Friday, May 07, 2010

Let's laugh at the funny non-native speakers 2 NYT

A Sampling of Chinglish (Foreigners Speak Funny English! NYT post below) reached #1 on the NYT most popular e-mailed list earlier today. At one time some thought the NYT to be a newspaper with some standards. NYT readers might even had assumed themselves to be better informed, more educated, and of higher class than some gal who reads the local rag. This e-mail list certainly brings that into question, but then again maybe folks were e-mailing it to show the effects of a newspaper desperate for readership.

Imagine if a US politician, especially a Republican or someone from the Tea Party, had made fun of the language of non-native speakers or some other group. Imagine the holier-than-thou, snobbish editorial we'd have read in the NYT.

Here's a link that shows funny non-native speakers mangling the written language from a different perspective. (Thanks to Dave and another commenter)

4:45pm Edited to add: And here's a hint of how it feels to be on the receiving end.


  1. Anonymous9:55 PM

    Though I couldn't fine the original article, the caption on the photo page said

    "For the last two years, the Shanghai Commission for the Management of Language Use has been trying to clean up English-language signs and menus to rid them of their malapropisms, like these examples."

    This indicates that it is a real story about a government initiative to make sure that China was not embarrassed by bad English. This is from pre-olympic days, and was news. (now not so much), but still not just a story about how CHinese have messed up english menus,

  2. Anonymous9:58 PM

    Not sure if my previous comments made it to you. I think your blog comment section is broken, or at least needs a message to say "Received Comment, will post after review". I tried twice but no response.

  3. Yes, I know the original article was about that. The one I linked to (with photos) supplemented it. Perhaps I am being overly sensitive, but I have been seeing the same stuff almost always about Asian countries for years. I suppose a reasonable argument could be made that the photos---which looked like somebody made a quick run around town with a cell phone camera to take---were needed to reinforce what some of the mistakes in English were. Being cynical and knowing how many people react to that makes me a bit suspicious. Or perhaps it became the top e-mailed link at the NYT for purely educational purposes.

    Don't know what the problem with the comment section is---blogger often does strange things.

  4. "...the enemies of Chinglish say the laughter it elicits is humiliating. Wang Xiaoming, an English scholar at the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences, painfully recalls the guffaws that erupted among her foreign-born colleagues as they flipped through a photographic collection of poorly written signs. “They didn’t mean to insult me but I couldn’t help but feel uncomfortable,” said Ms. Wang, who has since become one of Beijing’s leading Chinglish slayers..."

    Isn't that exactly what the Times did?

    From the original article which is no longer a top e-mailed post. Could it be because it provides a needed context instead of an opportunity for "guffaws."