"Don't forget to carry your thing"

Posted by Audrey Dubois-Boutet on May 5, 2009 May 5, 2009

The header represents an actual caution sign displayed in a Shanghai cab found by German author Oliver Radtke. China's specific translation of English, or “Chinglish”, as referred by Radtke, has created quite a skeptic controversy in language translation.

In Radtke’s book, Chinglish: Found in Translation, he explains that “[a] lot of the Chinglish signs carry a certain Chinese notion in them which enriches the English language and makes English more Chinese in the sense that there is a certain Chinese flavor, a certain Chinese way of thinking.” Although, from a cultural adaption of translation, this might be true, but in reality, the translation is still wrong. The faulty syntax and wrong use of idioms brings up the real problem in today’s language translation: wrong translation leads to wrong information. Excusing the errors in incorrect translations interrupts the initial purpose of translation itself. Translation means to provide correct information and communication in an alternative language.

So, is Radtke’s “Chinglish” theory a cultural perk needed to be embraced or an excuse for faulty translation?

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Topics: Translation, China