Say What? The Best Chinglish from Two Years in China

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One of the simple pleasures I enjoyed during my time in China was coming across delightfully confusing or inappropriate English translations, or Chinglish. Written Chinese can be very poetic and the intricate characters often convey more meaning than a direct English translation will allow. The garbled results and cultural miscues are guaranteed to make you smile!

Here are some gems I came across while going about my daily activities. Believe it or not, much of this Chinglish was seen in cosmopolitan Shanghai, where many locals speak perfect English!

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Diarrhea Clinic

So thankful I didn’t need to visit this clinic during my two years in Shanghai.

Such a naughty door!

Such a naughty door!

Impressive use of the word "herein!"

Impressive use of the word “herein!”

I finally found the solution to my pesky scurf problem!

I finally found the solution to my pesky scurf problem!

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Density + sensitivity = densitivity

Density + sensitivity = densitivity

This might be the politest sign I've ever seen!

This might be the politest sign I’ve ever seen!

Please rent with us if you want to marry somebody at the airport.

Please rent with us if you want to marry somebody at the airport.

It's nice to see a company so excited about the future!

It’s nice to see a company so excited about the future!

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Just what I want for lunch - delicious gruel!

Just what I want for lunch – delicious gruel!

What is our common aim? I feel like the secret to world peace is just out of reach!

What is our common aim? I feel like the secret to world peace is just out of reach!

This is a bus stop. Obviously.

This is a bus stop. Obviously.

Some of the most humorous Chinglish was on signs I came across in the country’s many national parks.Β From the pandas in Chengdu to the grass in Shanghai, China seems keen to protect its natural resources.

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What, exactly, is the warning here?

Poetic sign

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That sounds ... exotic. Best not take the children to that section of the park.

That sounds … exotic. Best not take the children to that section of the park.

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Smiling grass

Wildlife is not food

This is how I feel most days.

This is how I feel most days.

My favorite sign, found at the Chengdu Giant Panda park.

My favorite sign, found at the Chengdu Giant Panda park.

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Chinese menus are often ripe with mistranslations, though these are sadly disappearing as the nation becomes more accustomed to English. About half of these were found in Shanghai restaurants, while the rest come from Xi’an and Chengdu.

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For all the cannibals out there.

For all the cannibals out there.

Could a dish possibly sound less appetizing?

Could a dish possibly sound less appetizing?

Folks with shellfish allergies might want to avoid ordering chicken.

Folks with shellfish allergies might want to avoid ordering chicken.

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Awww, how sweet!

Awww, how sweet!

I don't know what this means but the noodles were delicious!

I don’t know what this means but the noodles were delicious!

Mmmm old pickles and soil.

Mmmm old pickles and soil.

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Number 65 sounds especially interesting. (Seen in Cambodia but too funny not to share!)

Number 65 sounds especially interesting. (Seen in Cambodia but too funny not to share!)

Which bit of Chinglish do you like best? What’s the funniest English translation you’ve ever seen?

 

Heather Hall

Heather Hall

Passionate about travel, food, history and animals, Heather brings a curiosity and fun-loving attitude to most any experience that comes along. The Virginia native has lived abroad since 2011, and has visited more than 40 countries. Follow along as she explores the cultures and cuisines of the world on her blog, Ferreting Out the Fun!

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24 thoughts on “Say What? The Best Chinglish from Two Years in China

  1. This gave me a great laugh after a long week. Thanks!

    Looks like they put the Chinese characters straight into the electronic dictionary and took the first phrases the came out.

    Diarrhea clinic! Loved that one, straight and to the point!

    • We loved the “Yu” one because the person who created it probably didn’t even realize how funny it was! I’m going to miss finding these little gems πŸ™‚

    • I forgot about the wheel covers! Many of the motorbikes in Shanghai had them as well, though usually they just featured a big yellow phone number. Of more interest to me in Japan were the vending machines πŸ™‚

  2. Oh I love these! Exotic Romance Zone, that sounds perfect for me. I was amazed at the amount of Engrish…Chinglish…whatever you call it is in China. Even standard phrases like “Don’t walk on the grass” change from park to park. Why not just use the same one?

    In a restaurant in Xian one of the dishes was called “Three Treasure Pickles”, but we opted for the “Eight Treasure Pickles”. More is always better.
    Natalia | Always Trekking recently posted…The Pollution Situation – Made in ChinaMy Profile

    • Agreed! We tried a few “Eight Treasure” dishes across China with good results. I always loved the menus that used the complicated scientific names for things when “mushrooms” would have been so much easier for them to write! Good old Google Translate πŸ™‚

    • I was disappointed not to find more funny t-shirts in China. They were more into brand knock-offs than anything. Japan had some hilarious ones, though! I’m looking forward to your future collection from Korea πŸ™‚

  3. These are just great. I remember when we found the Diarrhea
    Clinic and the Hepatitis one right beside it. Gave us a good laugh.
    Can’t pick a favorite – they are all so funny.

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