Another risk from Ramada Hotel Hangzhou…

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Once again, our man in Hangzhou, Ian Mair (no relation), has spotted a splendid Chinglish sign:

At first I was puzzled by why the Ramada Hotel Hangzhou would want to put its customers at risk, but it only took a few seconds before I realized what must have happened.  Where the sign has yòu yī jù xiàn 又一巨献 ("another great offering"), the person who was tasked with rendering the sign into English must have entered you yi ju xian, not paying attention to the tones, and what came out was yòu yī jù xiǎn 又一巨险 ("another great danger / risk").  Admittedly, if you drink too much at Oktoberfest, you might put yourself at risk, but I don't think that's what the Ramada management had in mind.

Here's the whole sign (click on the image for a larger version):

The explanatory paragraph in English beneath the three photographs on the sign does not have a corresponding text in Chinese against which to check it, but most of the wording can be figured out without too much effort, at least for those who are used to reading Chinglish.  It's not immediately evident, however, what was intended in this sentence:  "Each year from late September to early October, people squeeze their friends and family companions, lovers…."  Never having been to Munich to participate personally in Oktoberfest, I cannot say for certain whether or not a great deal of squeezing of friends and family companions goes on there in the big beer halls, but I suspect that what the author of the text was trying to tell us is that people jǐ jìnqù 挤进去("squeeze into") the beer halls with their family and friends.


  1. Twitter Trackbacks for Language Log » Another risk from Ramada Hotel Hangzhou… [] on said,

    September 20, 2010 @ 10:11 pm

    […] Language Log » Another risk from Ramada Hotel Hangzhou… – view page – cached Once again, our man in Hangzhou, Ian Mair (no relation), has spotted a splendid Chinglish sign: Tweets about this link […]

  2. Chris said,

    September 20, 2010 @ 10:19 pm

    I see there the origin of the old saw "danger = opportunity in Chinese". People see the correspondence between xiàn "opportunity" and xiǎn "risk", but ignore the importance of tone in Chinese words. I'd seen a number of people say that there was no truth to that cliche (that is, that there was no way that "danger" and "opportunity" are equated in Chinese), but it seems that there is after all, albeit a garbled truth.

  3. Elizabeth Manus said,

    September 21, 2010 @ 12:00 am

    While visiting Shanghai a few months ago, I was surprised by how amusing "Chinglish" is for some people. For people who are non linguists, especially, what is so appealing?

  4. D.O. said,

    September 21, 2010 @ 1:14 am

    Without being able to read Chinese at all, I thought "risk"="adventure".

  5. groki said,

    September 21, 2010 @ 3:41 am

    @Victor Mair: for squeeze, maybe "grab", or "hug"?

    @Elizabeth Manus:

    non linguist here. the appeal of Chinglish for me is a polymorphous combination of:
    a) my inner problem solver getting a riddle or a punch line ("what's that mean? oh!"),
    b) my inner sadist watching a pratfall ("poor bastard: ha ha!"),
    c) my inner scold correcting an error ("ur doin it rong!"), and
    d) my inner connoisseur enjoying unexpected quirky innovative phrasing ("mmm: provocative!").

    it needn't be just Chinese/English snafus, either. but the gaps and overlaps between two such strong cultures, as well as the needs/opportunities of two world powers to communicate in myriad ways, make Chinglish rich pickins–for my inner crowd anyway.

  6. outeast said,

    September 21, 2010 @ 4:16 am

    @ Chris,

    That particular meme (which is 'crisis = danger + opportunity' rather than 'danger = opportunity') has an entirely different origin, as our host explains here.

    However, with appropriate dedication to the cause of misinformation I am sure we can create a new and equally exciting meme from 'xian'.

  7. John Swindle said,

    September 21, 2010 @ 6:51 am

    They're advertising another great offering/venture/risk. No?

  8. a George said,

    September 21, 2010 @ 6:54 am

    what is actually the difference between "risk" and "chance"? Does it not only depend on the viewpoint? And that is merely English.

  9. Mr Punch said,

    September 21, 2010 @ 10:09 am

    "Squeeze": I have no Chinese, but it occurs to me that the sentence fragment quoted makes some sense in English if we substitute "embrace" for "squeeze."

  10. Mark F. said,

    September 21, 2010 @ 1:22 pm

    I've brought this idea up before, but why don't the translation software companies offer back-translation with menu-based correction? That is, if a word in the back-translated text were wrong, you could right-click on it and get a list of other options. It would then regenerate the whole translation based on the new information.

    I realize that's hard, but even just back-translation alone would help, since you could keep rephrasing your input until the round-trip said more or less the right thing.

  11. Elizabeth said,

    September 21, 2010 @ 8:15 pm


    The idea of what gets lost in translation between two world powers is a compelling one. I wonder if there's a Chinglish (audio?) book or two that demonstrates how English speakers mangle Chinese.

    [(myl) See Hanzi Smatter (which we first began commenting on back in 2004).]

  12. Manders said,

    September 21, 2010 @ 8:54 pm


    When I was an exchange student in Japan, studying Japanese, I delighted in finding, er "Janglish"(?), for a the following reasons:

    It was interesting to me that while Japanese katagana/hiragana/kanji appeared on most official signs, most pop culture items had English on them. I wanted to find a t-shirt with Japanese writing on it and was unable to do so.

    I then concluded that English must be the hip thing to use, regardless of the actual correctness of the translation.

    My absolute favorite item was a little tissue holder featuring a debonair cartoon penguin pronouncing, "Now, Baby! Tonight! I'm feeling cool and hard boiled!"

    Hilarious, right?

    I was just dying to know what Japanese word meant "hard boiled" AND something sexy/charming. Never did figure it out.

  13. J Greely said,

    September 21, 2010 @ 9:30 pm

    Manders, the penguin was feeling like a "hard-boiled action hero", and a search for ハードボイルド on will turn up all sorts of cool-tough-guy movies, including pretty much everything featuring Charles Bronson or Humphrey Bogart.


  14. H.B.B. Noizzz said,

    September 21, 2010 @ 11:18 pm

    @ Manders

    It's generally called 'Engrish', a la Possibly NSFW at times (bikinis girls, at most.)

  15. Henry said,

    September 22, 2010 @ 1:54 am


    There is a website,, which does exactly as you say.

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