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16 Mar What is ‘Chinglish’?

When you come across a sign somewhere in the streets of Macau that says, “Don’t climbing, lightning-prone are”, then be prepared to learn a new language: ‘Chinglish’. ‘Chinglish’ is a both written and spoken English that borrows from native Chinese. For instance, Guangdong and Hongkong have their own version of ‘Chinglish’ called Cantonese that has grammatical reference to English.

An informal English learner will refer to ‘Chinglish’ as a non-sensical version of English that is full of Chinese contexts. Actually, its ungrammatical nature has influenced its reference to Chinese and Sinicized English.

To understand this language, you have to know its roots. In a nutshell, ‘Chinglish’ originated from the native Chinese lands where inhabitants had a little knowledge in English. So when such a person attempts to speak English, more often he or she will have a halfway communication due to the poor English grammatical command. Below are some common examples:

Manual biscuits in place of handbaked biscuits
Carved fruits in place of cut fruits
Stop entry in place of no entry

Differences between Chinese English and ‘Chinglish’

While a number of language professors have tried to distinguish the two, they have however not found a clear boundary to differentiate them since the two are on a continuum. This has led to an understanding that ‘Chinglish’ is only incomprehensive to native English speakers but can be understood by native Chinese speakers.

Moreover, ‘Chinglish’ is a word-for-word translation of Chinese sentences and phrases. For instance, haoxue xi tianxiangshang can be translated to “learn hard and have a continuous spirit daily”. Such a sentence is incomprehensive to an English learner but a native Chinese speaker will get the meaning.

Lastly, ‘Chinglish’ is believed to transmit cultural references that are common. For instance, “wedding cars for hire” can be written as “rent cars for meeting somebody for marrying” with an incomprehensible sentence structure. Such a sentence is then relying a message best understood by natives.

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