China’s New Battle Against Engrish

China’s New Battle Against Engrish

While the botched “Engrish” translations in video games like Zero Wing, the Ninja Warriors and Metal Gear have provided us with years of amusement and long-running memes, officials in China are trying to stamp out mangled English.

The New York Times reports on the Shanghai Commission for the Management of Language Use’s efforts to scrub out delightfully flubbed translations like listings of “fried enema” from Chinese restaurant menus and “urine district” bathroom signs. With some 600 volunteers, Engrish exterminators in Shanghai have updated some 10,000 public signs and helped hundreds of restaurants update their menus.

Officials in Beijing went far beyond that in preparation for the 2008 summer Olympics, addressing “Chinglish” gems like the Dongda Anus Hospital.

It’s rare to see such laugh out loud translations in video games anymore, save for the odd indie project. Part of that may be in thanks to the addition of native English speakers on staff at Japanese game developers, part due to quality localisation groups like Nintendo’s Treehouse group and the independent 8-4 in Tokyo.

Engrish in games may be all but extinct and efforts in the real world may wipe it out altogether. Are we worse off for it?

Shanghai Is Trying to Untangle the Mangled English of Chinglish [NY Times]


  • They will never stamp it out..

    My fav is from a rubber door mat a store I worked in used to sell.. “Not much flamable for the safe”.. and on the same label; “Water resistant and water absorbent while raining”.

    There will always be stupid people who think they know what they are doing..

  • Ah they need to lighten up about it, bad translations are charming and at least they have a go. Maybe its a good thing to clarify things like tourist amenities, but the beauty of chinese cuisine is the lucky dip nature of it.

  • It as if looks like one? The good idea makes this…, but truly, whether is necessary? ?? , Turns? UK? Increases??? Outside?? To ratio? , and? I? memes. Oh sum? Passes? Babelfish ran again? UK? ???? To???? Japan? With returns to UK?? Bright I? .

    That was me trying to say that it’s a good idea… but really, is it necessary? Bad English increases the hilarity in games and gives us means.

    Also, I ran this through Babelfish from Chinese Simple to Chinese Traditional and back to English. I was going to do Japanese, but forgot. 😛

  • I recently bought a watch from Hong Kong that came with a Q/A certificate to reassure me that the product was “Fist Class”. I wasn’t entirely convinced, though.

Log in to comment on this story!