Paradigm Shift: Rich US Parents Seek Chinese Nannies to Teach Kids Mandarin

by Jing Liu ~ November 8th, 2006. Filed under: Readings.

‘Chinglish’ website targets Asians lost in mistranslation

by Clifford Coonan in Beijing

CHINA: Rich parents in the United States are desperately seeking
Chinese nannies to tutor their charges in Mandarin, the language of the
future for westerners keen to make inroads in China. Meanwhile, in
China, 300 million people are learning English, the language of their

Both tongues are de rigueur among the aspiring middle classes in their
respective linguistic catchment areas, but both languages are also
notoriously difficult to learn.

Betwixt these two heavy burdens of linguistic expectations steps – – an online service that translates
from Chinese into English and back again.

“ sees its mission in facilitating communication between
speakers of Chinese and English. As far as we are concerned,
international organisations will only have two official languages of
work in the future: Chinese and English. Our portal can save billions of
dollars in translation and interpretation costs,” said Marius van
Bergen, chief executive of the Chinglish website, which launched this

“Chinglish’s mission is to promote linguistic and cultural exchange
between China and the West by creating a virtual internet community in
which Chinese and English coexist and enrich each other,” Mr van Bergen
said in a statement.

Chinglish is a word that means a sort of Chinese-English pidgin. It is
so widespread in Asia that it effectively functions as a creole
language, but sometimes it does look funny on signposts.

A personal favourite is “F**k the certain price of goods” instead of
“Sale Now On”, while “Children is not recommended” also rings true.
“Enter the mouth”, a mistranslation of the Chinese characters for
“Entrance” is also very common on signposts, causing blushes.

The Chinese government is running a major drive to standardise the use
of English on public signs before the Beijing Olympics in 2008. A group
called the “Beijing Speaks to the World Committee” is scouring the
capital looking for signs lost in mistranslation. For instance,
Beijing’s Park of Ethnic Minorities was signposted, hilariously, as
“Racist Park”. But not for long. (Fulltext from The Irish Times – Nov 3, 2006)

2 Responses to Paradigm Shift: Rich US Parents Seek Chinese Nannies to Teach Kids Mandarin

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