Lost in translation
Wednesday 28 June 2017
Recent reports that the Chinese authorities are trying to stamp out comically bad translations into English, otherwise known as Chinglish, of signs in public places bring back memories of my years in the early 1960s as correspondent in Peking (now Beijing). I was provided by the authorities with two "translators", whose job was to read the newspapers and give me summaries or headlines of stories they thought would interest me. Both Mr Tsiang and Mr Woo were charming old men whose English left a lot to be desired. Three examples, I think from Mr Tsiang, have stayed with me for the more than 50 years since I first saw them:
A new stadium has opened in Peking where sporting lovers can practise their techniques all the years round.
It has snowed but little in North China this year and where they have dropped they have smelt.
Woman killed in collision with hairblower.
(Luckily I could not even try to write Chinese!) ■