Sino-English grammatical hyper-redundancy

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Adrian S. Thieret found this sign inside his brand new apartment complex in Shanghai a few days ago:

It reads:

xǐyī fáng zhèngzài zhuāngshì zhōng -ing…… 洗衣房正在装饰中ing……
("the laundry room is being decorated")
jìngqǐng qídài 敬请期待
("coming soon", lit., "respectfully please wait expectantly")

The excess of markers of the present progressive / continuous aspect in the first line is almost mind-boggling.

In Mandarin, you can indicate the present continuous with zài 在, zhèng 正, or zhèngzài 正在 before the verb.  The zhōng 中 ("in [process / midst of]") after the verb is optional.  The final particle ne 呢 can also be used to show that the action of the verb is ongoing.  In certain situations (e.g., doing one thing while something else is being done), you can also tack on the suffix -zhe 着.

The sentence in the first line of the sign already has three indications of the present continuous, and other resources for emphasizing progressive action in Chinese are available, yet the person(s) who wrote this sign chose to add the English verbal ending "-ing" as well.

Melvin Lee comments on the fondness for the English verb ending -ing in current Chinese:

This usage is actually not uncommon among the young generation in China/Taiwan now. My friends and I tend to use qídàiing 期待ing when we want to say "looking forward to it," particularly in emails or text messages. In this picture, it is interesting because 正在…中 has already served the function of Verb-ing. Therefore, the "ing" here looks a little bit redundant. Still, this kind of mixture of Chinese and English has become so common now, which is surely very interesting.

A few relevant posts:

[Thanks to Maiheng Dietrich and Yixue Yang]


  1. Bathrobe said,

    October 20, 2017 @ 6:15 pm

    This reminds me of one of the translations of the Little Prince into Chinese, which used 11 characters to translate 'qui meurt' / 'dying':

    Je sentais battre son cœur comme celui d'un oiseau [qui meurt], quand on l'a tiré à la carabine.

    I felt his heart beating, like the heart of a [dying] bird, shot with someone's rifle……


    No '-ing', unfortunately.

  2. tangent said,

    October 20, 2017 @ 11:17 pm

    And a six-dot ellipsis!

  3. Akito said,

    October 21, 2017 @ 3:46 am

    Since the dots are not on the base line, I take it that the writer simply followed the Chinese typesetting convention. The ellipsis (省略号 shěnglüèhào) and the dash (破折号 pòzhéhào) are two characters long (as they are in Japanese typesetting).

  4. B.Ma said,

    October 22, 2017 @ 12:54 am

    I don't know, it just looks very unprofessional to me. I wouldn't mind if it was actually a better way of expressing the intention of the sign, but the -ing is not even necessary!

  5. Gordon Mathieson said,

    October 23, 2017 @ 10:11 am

    As a student of Mandarin many years ago at Yale, followed by living in Taiwan for 2 years I am interested in this site. As a fictional writer of Chinese and Chinese American stories, I am fascinated at how Mandarin usage has changed over the years.

  6. Jonathan Smith said,

    October 23, 2017 @ 8:46 pm

    Grammatical error; should be "正在装饰ing中"

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