Saturday, June 14, 2008

Synonyms are trouble.

I went to the Beijing Tourism Bureau website today and a most colorful flash banner urged me to do a rather strange thing: "Contact the Olympics".

I don't know how long this banner is online already and I wonder how long it will take them to realize they should take if offline pretty soon again. Why do so?

The problem is ti3yan4 体验 and gan3shou4 感受 mean basically the same thing: to feel or experience with (in my understanding!) 体验 having a stronger emphasis on physical experience. All in all it is definitely not about writing an email to Jacques Rogge.

Suggestion: Break it down - "Experience Beijing and the Olympics", maybe even: "Experience Beijing and feel the Olympics". Native speakers anyone?


At 11:21 PM, Blogger Fat Roland wrote ...

Or "Touch the Olympics". That would be a pretty typical inspirational slogan, and 'touch' is probably more likely to be mistranslated as 'contact' than 'feel' would be...?

At 4:31 AM, Blogger olr — 纪韶融 wrote ...

Thanks, Roland. I still wouldn't know, though, what to expect from "touching" an event. Have you seen this as a standard translation somewhere?

At 5:24 PM, Anonymous Angel wrote ...

I appreciate your blog so much as it is a special blog. Have you ever been to Hong Kong? There is nearly no Chinglish, well, at least not that obivous, but that's not the case for students +v+.
Guess what, Chinglish is always the major problem in my English writing. My teacher said, it's because students nowadays in HK is so lazy that even don't want to touch the dictionary, I mean the real one, e.g.Oxford. We tend to rely on online dictionary most probably, but the words may not be the correct one, or it's for alternative use. Will it be another main source when people need to translate signs in China?
  I hope you can understand what I said, as originally I think it won't be a good choice to express in English, but I know I do need practicing.^^


At 6:01 PM, Blogger olr — 纪韶融 wrote ...

Hi Angel,

many thanks for your comment. I am pretty sure free online dictionaries (especially the bad ones, but which one isn't?) are a major source for Chinglish production in mainland China.
Interesting development that you're reporting about, HK students aren't reading English literature any longer?



At 12:40 PM, Anonymous Angel wrote ...

Well, campare with English, Chinese sentence pattern and word's part of speech(詞性) is quiet different. Some sentence like "I very like her(我非常喜歡她)" should be corrected as "I love her very much". That's another type of Chinglish, or a kind of translating word by word, haha. If students do spend some time in checking it on dictionary, as there are extra information like sample sentences, I believe they won't have mistake like that.

By the way, I think the most popular online dictionary is yahoo. To be honest, yahoo is not bad, but may contain some uncommon words. I am using Cambridge dictation( now.

Angel =)

At 5:28 PM, Blogger olr — 纪韶融 wrote ...

Thanks for the dictionary info, Angel!


At 4:07 PM, Anonymous Anonymous wrote ...

What about "Experience Beijing, enjoy the Olympics"?


At 4:05 PM, Anonymous Anonymous wrote ...

多看 多记,习惯了就好了。

At 2:21 PM, Anonymous Anonymous wrote ...

They've changed it to "Embrace the Olympics". Looks better now.

At 3:04 AM, Anonymous Anonymous wrote ...

They've not changed it until now

At 2:19 PM, Anonymous Jack wrote ...

Is it better to say: Enjoy Beijing and Experience the Olympics ?

To my understanding, first TiYan (体验) should be a totally new shock to those who have never been to China, and this TiYan contains much more things than watching Olympic games. So the second GanShou (感受) is just a common feeling to foreigner (after all, Olympics is coming to China the first time), so the feeling of watching the games is not so shcking as 'enjoy Beijing', I am sure. Meaning, though TiYan and GanShou are almost the same thing, but we should choose a stronger and more emotional word for TiYan, the first one. And what is more, enjoying your being in China, and in Beijing or somewhere in China, is a thing which lasts much much longer than wtahcing Olympics games which only last for less than a month.



At 4:42 AM, Blogger  wrote ...

"Enjoy the Olympic", maybe that is what they implied.

At 5:09 AM, Blogger 叶某某 wrote ...


At 5:37 PM, Anonymous 笑话 wrote ...

Come to Beijing and Enjoy the Olympic Game

At 6:28 AM, Blogger Martin Oei wrote ...

Dear Olr,

In most of Hong Kong secondary school, English literature is not a part of their syllabus. Hong Kong students have not known British writers like Jane Austen, George Orwell, etc.

On the other hand, so many Hong Kong students do not stay at RTHK Radio 6, a BBC World Service local relay. I do not think next generation Hong Konger can write fluent English as colonial era.

Martin Oei 黃世澤

(Oei is my Indonesian and Dutch surname. )

At 4:33 PM, Anonymous Coco wrote ...

5年前在北京的时候,我的加拿大朋友说我chinglish非常棒! 所以我看了你的博客后,真的很感谢.也很感慨!

At 4:48 PM, Anonymous Anonymous wrote ...

To Angel: Some sentence like "I very like her(我非常喜歡她)" should be corrected as "I love her very much".

Actually you can use "I really like her" to keep the same sentence structure. It depends on the words you use. =)

And my 2 cents on the sign:
Taste of Beijing's grandeur; Feel the Olympic splendor

Sure, it's not as "compact". But I feel that English cannot match Chinese in compactness. If you look up ancient Chinese prose, one sentence can be expanded out into a whole paragraph.

I think that is the true loss though. Because assuming you read a constant number of words per minute ... you can cover more information if you are reading wen yan wen. =P

At 6:56 AM, Blogger 云端曼吟 wrote ...

It is very interesting...
But Chinese do need more training.
actually,we don not realize it.

At 3:52 AM, Anonymous Anonymous wrote ...


At 2:11 PM, Anonymous Anonymous wrote ...

I get your website address from Phenix TV (凤凰卫视), a famous TV station in mainland China
Your blog is so interesting, and your kindly comments for each finding are apreciated.


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