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Are you fluent in Chinglish?

TIME : 2016/3/19 16:52:04
Wherever you glance in China, you enter the through-the-mirror world of Chinglish. You may at first be confused by a sign that says 'Be Seated Defecate', but it's just a way of saying that the loo you're about to use isn't a squat version. 'Deformed Man Toilet' may sound like something from the David Lynch cutting- room floor, but it's merely a toilet for the disabled.

'The green grass is afraid of your foot' is simply a cryptic way of saying 'Keep off the Grass'. Upstanding Shànghǎi speakers of Chinglish are regularly reminded: 'Don't expectoration everywhere. Don't attaint public property. Don't destroy virescence. Don't random through street. Don't say four-letter word.' Welcome to the compelling world of Chinglish.

A shop sign advertises itself as 'OC SLOOT YTUAEB & GNISSERDRIAH', which at first glance resembles some kind of outlandish code. Reading from right to left exposes the true gist, although the lettering is not mirror-writing; each letter faces the right way, but in a reverse sequence.

It's all part of a growing linguistic empire, and with a potential 1.3 billion speakers, it's a force to be reckoned with. It won't be long before you have a small armoury of Chinglish phrases of your own. Before you know it, you'll know without thinking that 'Be Careful not to Be Stolen' is a warning against thieves; that 'Shoplifters Will Be Fined 10 Times' means shoplifting is not a good idea in China; that 'Don't Stroke the Works' (generally found in museums) means 'No Touching', and that 'Slip Carefully' means the floor could be wet.