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Chinglish busters ink new sign standards

SHANGHAI has developed a new series of guidelines that seek to eradicate Chinglish in signs, menus and other public postings before millions of foreign visitors descend on the city for the 2010 World Expo.

Signs like "deformed man toilet" will be replaced with a more appropriate translation for a restroom with wheelchair access.

The English-language usage standards, a set of 10 industry-specific volumes, will be issued next month to improve translations of Chinese into English, the local government's Shanghai Language Work Committee said yesterday.

The standards will provide an introduction to basic translation rules and list examples of the common English words pertaining to public transport, hospitals, tourist spots, restaurants and other enterprises.

Language researchers from local universities and other experts including native speakers have compiled the standards and are now making final revisions. The guidelines will be issued to all local industries next month, and a free online version will be available to the public by the end of this year.

Inspections to gauge compliance with the standards will be launched at public venues later this year, officials said.

Last year, researchers found that 10.5 percent of local translations for signboards and other written materials were improper, though that was an improvement of about 5 percent from the previous year.

"The improper translation of signs in public venues destroys the image of Shanghai as an international metropolis," said Deputy Mayor Shen Xiaoming, who is also the director of Shanghai Language Work Committee.

The World Expo creates the need for even higher-level language services, said Huang Jianzhi, deputy director-general of the Bureau of Shanghai World Expo Coordination.

"It is a stage for global science and technology and will last for a long time in a huge space, with a rich audience of different languages and cultural backgrounds," he said.

All signs in the Expo area will be in standard Chinese and English, Huang said.

Most volunteers will have a good command of English, and many will be able to speak Japanese, Korean, French and even sign language.

Meanwhile, English language training courses covering basic phrases for daily necessities will be further promoted among city residents this year.


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