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21 - (Supplemental): Mistranslated Signs

from Part III - Other Signs

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  29 February 2024

Zheng-sheng Zhang
Affiliation:
San Diego State University
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Summary

Many signs in urban areas are bilingual in Chinese and English. It cannot escape the notice of even the most casual bilingual observer that many such signs are woefully (and sometimes hilariously) mistranslated. Mistakes can result from wrong segmentation, wrong word choice, wrong grammar, or inappropriate style, which is particularly important in Chinese. Mistakes can also result from missing crucial information or lack of understanding of English. There are also the ‘innovative analogies’, which give rise to non-existent English words. Also frequently observed are inconsistencies, wavering between the two strategies of pinyin transliteration and meaning translation. The inclusion of mistranslated signs can be pedagogically useful in more than one way. Studying mistranslated signs is an exercise in contrastive analysis. Through detailed analysis of the causes of the mistakes, such signs can be used as negative examples in the teaching of both Chinese and English. They can also be useful to the study and practice of translation.

Type
Chapter
Information
Chinese Signs
An Introduction to China's Linguistic Landscape
, pp. 201 - 208
Publisher: Cambridge University Press
Print publication year: 2024

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