Friday, August 31, 2007

Beijing Olympics: "No Engrish Spoken Here"

A lot of preparation is underway for next year's Olympic Games in Beijing. Among the projects being undertaken by the Chinese authorities is an effort to rid restaurant menus of mangled English translations:
Hungry visitors to next summer's Beijing Olympics won't have to choose between "steamed crap" and "virgin chicken" if Chinese authorities succeed in ridding restaurant menus of mangled English translations.

The Beijing Tourism Bureau has released a list with 2,753 proposed names for dishes and drinks, designed to replace bizarre and sometimes ridiculous translations on menus, the official Xinhua News Agency reported Friday.

Foreigners are often stumped by dish names such as "virgin chicken" (a young chicken dish) or "burnt lion's head" (Chinese-style pork meatballs). Other garbled names include "The temple explodes the chicken cube" (kung pao chicken) or "steamed crap" (steamed carp).

"These translations either scare or embarrass foreign customers and may cause misunderstanding on China's diet habits," Xinhua said.

It's the latest effort by Beijing Olympics organizers to clean up the city and ensure that the best image is presented to the hundreds of thousands of visitors expected next summer.

Etiquette campaigns are afoot to stamp out bad manners such as jumping ahead in line, spitting, littering and reckless driving. The revised menu names are part of an effort to ban unintelligible English, known as "Chinglish," that abounds on signs everywhere.
Part of me is disappointed to hear that news, because this phenomenon, also known as Engrish, has provided hours of entertainment for me and my friends. Sure, not everyone is brave enough to try a dish named "Salty egg king steams the vegetable sponge," but others might be intrigued enough to at least inquire about it. (That dish, mentioned at the bottom of this post, came from a menu posted here; also included are such delicacies as "Cowboy leg beautiful pole," " The carbon roasts the sheep sparerib" and "Big bowl flower immerses pork kidney." Read it and be prepared to laugh.)

Another Made in China story: A Japanese man claimed on an Internet posting that China's famed Shaolin monks were beaten in combat by an unarmed ninja. The monks are demanding a retraction.

The compasionate criminal: A guy in New York state robbed another man at knifepoint, but he only needed four dollars, so he waited patiently as his victim got change for a ten before taking the money.

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