Just like mushrooms popping up after spring rainfall (at least as they do here in Northern European climes) comes a new journalistic phenomenon: some pre-planned world-scale event occurs in China (e.g. the 2008 Olympics, the recent opening of the Shanghai World Expo) and is immediately followed by articles in the American press taking a bemused look at the stumbles of the Chinese as they try to come to grips with the English language, efforts that produce something usually termed “Chinglish.” The latest instance of this is a recent article in the NYT together with the almost-indispensable accompanying slide-show displaying some prime Chinglish examples (e.g. “Slip and fall down carefully”).
It’s often pretty funny stuff. Then again, another thought may come to anyone inclined to think about such things a bit more deeply. (And/or to those quick to take offense – or are these two cohorts actually one-and-the-same?) Could it be that the “paper of record” of one great civilization is, in effect, mocking the citizens of yet another for their well-intentioned struggles in navigating the former’s language? When, in fact, relations between these two great civilizations are of possibly the most crucial importance to world peace as well as progress on most other global-scale problems (e.g. environment, trade, financial regulation)? (more…)