Thursday, October 31, 2013

Chuck Allanson's Chinglish Handbook

A popular English learning guide on Chinese Internet community was attributed to Chuck Allanson, who claimed to be on faculty of Zhejiang University. The article was supposed to clarify some misuses or casual wordings that were frequently found in translating Chinese into English. However, some obvious misinformation were mixed in.

At the beginning, when explaining the motive of writing the article, Mr. Allanson said he found many Chinese didn't know the native way of referring dumpling was ravioli. I hope he can't be too serious on this, unless he just descended in a tardis traveling from civil war time America. Later he said the correct way for calling noodles were pasta, with a annotate of using noodles being childish.

Among the 20 some 'Chinglish' mistakes which were listed side-by-side with presumed correct way of saying them as natives, about half of them were false or misleading.

ChineseChinglishEnglishSeagull Comments
欢迎你到... welcome you to ... welcome to ...
永远记住你remember you forever always remember you(nobody can live forever)While you do hear 'always' more often, people do use forever. It's just stronger feeling, so that we often say we will love you forever.
祝你有个... wish you have a ... I wish you a ... Mr. Allanson must have been listening too many Christmas songs, but I digressed. I hope you have a good day.
给你 give you here you are Among a thousand ways to convey the same message, 'here you are' actually is somehow a creepier one.;-)
很喜欢... very like ... like ... very much
黄头发 yellow hair blond/blonde(there is no saying of “yellow hair” in Western Countries)
厕所WC men's room/women's room/restroom
真遗憾 it's a pity that's too bad/it's a shame(it's a pity is an old way)
裤子 trousers pants/slacks/jeans
修理 mend fix/repair How about mending your fences with fellow expat English teachers?
入口 way in entrance
出口 way out exit(way out means crazy in oral English)
勤奋 diligent hardworking/studious/conscientiousNothing wrong with saying 'diligent'
应该 should must/shall nothing wrong with 'should'
火锅 chafing dish hot pot
大厦 mansion center/plaza This will be determined by the context
马马虎虎 so-so average/fair/all right/not too bad/OK(so-so is seldom used by Western people)
好吃 delicious good/nice/tasty/appetizing(“delicious” is used to much in China)It's crazy to suggest a perfect word be given up because it is used in China
尽我最大努力 try my best try/strive(“try” means “try my best”)'Try my best' is good.
有名 famous well-known/renowned/legendary/popular(“famous” is used too much in China)These words have different meanings than 'famous'.
滑稽 humorous funny/witty/amusing/entertainingAgain, the suggested words are of different meanings.
欺骗 to cheat to trick/to play a joke on/to con/to deceive/to rip offIs this a Chinglish lesson or a thesaurus exercise?
车门 the door of the car the car's door Car doesn't own doors, thus 'car door' would be enough. Or if you want to precise, use 'driver side door' or 'passenger side door'.
怎么拼? how to spell? how do you spell?
再见 bye-bye bye/see you/see you later/later(“bye-bye” is a little bit childish)
play go to/do(“play” is used too much in China)
面条 noodles pasta(“noodles” is a little bit childish)The seagull is horrified by this one. The facial expression will be priceless when you find pasta in the plate, expecting noodles with an empty stomach.
据说 it is said I heard/I read/I was toldSuggested sayings are of different meanings, and there is nothing wrong with 'It is said'.
等等 and so on etc.You 'speak' English like that?
直到现在till now recently/lately/thus farNothing wrong with 'till now'
农民 peasant farmer This can be a tough call, and Mr. Allanson must be very brave to pick them. However, he should not have.
宣传 propaganda information Propaganda is not information. In Chinese context, 宣传 really means propaganda. Until recently, the top ministry within CCP named themselves the Propaganda Department for official English name. They have since changed the English translation to Publicity.

The 'handbook' had gone viral through Weibo/WeChat among other mobile platforms. Some could be found on the Internet. It is even listed by the Baidu Collection. It is also re-imported to Canada and the US by Chinese who are learning English.

A little investigation suggested Mr. Allanson was an American, and that he knew how to write English, as demonstrated in his letter to PBS and his self description on promotional materials. The Seagull suspect the aforementioned article was not penned by Mr. Allanson himself. It is probably an excerpt of notes from classroom, with essential context left out, by one of his students--perhaps a student who really hates him.;-)

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