Beijing corrects mistranslations before 2022 Winter Olympics

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Beijing corrects mistranslations

“Translations of public signs not only help foreigners, but their quality also shapes the image of a city” (Chen Mingming, executive vice-president of the Translators Association of China)… And not just the image of a city – any translations in the public eye can affect the image of your company, your restaurant, your hotel or your growing business.

A hasty machine translation that goes viral as a ‘Chinglish’ blooper can often have totally unforeseen consequences and is a hard-learned lesson about the pitfalls of trusting AI over professional Chinese to English translators.

roasted husband

This is why in the run-up to the Winter Olympics and Paralympics, Beijing is making a concerted effort to review and correct hundreds of signs and notices in English.

Legislation introduced in December 2017 has already led to the vetting of over two million Chinese characters on signs and notices. Beijing’s foreign affairs office has been scouring the city for embarrassing mistakes in signage, helped by the general public, who report mistranslations on a website that offers rewards for spotting them.

slip down

And while many of the signs are hilarious, the government is particularly concerned about the ones that could cause offense, such as the Park of Ethnic Minorities translated as ‘Racist Park’, or ‘Rape when greenstuffs’ on a restaurant menu. Standardised translations have also been provided for over 3,000 commonly used phrases, as well as for famous food dishes, such as bean curd and noodles.

tiny grass is dreaming

So if you happen to be in China for the Olympics this year, it’s going to be tricky to find those magnificent bloopers just waiting to be posted online … but don’t despair – if you look hard enough, you’re sure to spot one somewhere!

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