Chinglish cornucopia

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Photos taken and curated (also here) by Ruan Qi:

1. "Chī duōshǎo ná duōshǎo 吃多少拿多少" – "Take as much AS YOU CAN" –> "Take as much as you eat".

This is from a hotel in Shaoxing, Zhejiang, serving buffet.

2. "Xiǎoxīn dì huá 小心地滑" – "Carefully slide" –> "Caution:  slippery floor".

This error actually happens a lot. The three structural auxiliary words "de 的" “de / di 地” “de 得” are everywhere in Mandarin. "小心 地滑" and "小心地 滑" make a huge difference in meaning.

3. "Kāishuǐ jiān 开水间" – "open water rooms" –> "Room for boiled water".

“Kāishuǐ 开水”, boiled water plays an indispensable role in Chinese lifestyle. It must be magic to have water boiled simply by opening it.

4. "Qiāndào chù 签到处" – "SIGN EVERYWHERE" –> "Place for signing in".

"签到 处" and "签 到处". Sentence segmentation is very important!


"一米 线" and "一 米线". Again, segmentation. But I really like the noodle idea.

6. "Mièyān tái 灭烟台" – "Destroy Yantai" –> "ashtray; place for putting out cigarettes"

 "灭烟 台" and  "灭 烟台". Every time you smoke, please consider the feelings of Yantai people!

VHM:  Completely new errors crop up as often as old ones reoccur.

Selected readings

Countless posts under the rubrics of "Lost in translation" and "Found in translation".  Here are two of the latest and some older ones as well):


  1. Philip Taylor said,

    January 3, 2021 @ 3:43 pm

    1. "Chī duōshǎo ná duōshǎo 吃多少拿多少" – "Take as much AS YOU CAN" –> "Take as much as you eat".

    I would have cast the latter as "Take as much as you can eat", but in some British establishments it is rendered as "Please take no more than you can eat", often with the sub-text "otherwise a supplement may be charged".

  2. DaveK said,

    January 3, 2021 @ 6:23 pm

    @Phillip Taylor. I thought it was trying to advertise an all-you-can-eat buffet, but your explanation makes it clear.
    I’m reminded of the old mess hall sign “Take all you want but early all you take”

  3. DaveK said,

    January 3, 2021 @ 6:35 pm

    Eat, of course, not early. Auto-complete strikes again.

  4. David J Moser said,

    January 4, 2021 @ 1:07 am

    Ah, the joys of Chinglish. I'm so glad this delightful linguistic domain still thrives. There is a large achive of Chinglish at, and in a series of books by Oliver Lutz Radtke. Some of these might be machine translation errors, but I suspect most are the results of word-for-word dictionary lookup by employees who couldn't speak English.

  5. Erika said,

    January 5, 2021 @ 7:54 pm

    The Empress one goes back even more…

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