Everiday Shanghai Engrish

A correction collection of Engrish spotted during my last trip to Shanghai.
Outside Xiang Yang Market:

Golf equipment specialty store

At the Maglev train station:

Entrance To Train Rides

They obviously don’t like you here. Good riddance!

I’m supposed to walk through the wall?
Who do you think I am? The Incredible Hulk?

Shanghai train stations are not like Singapore MRT stations. You are allowed to take photos here, as long as you are shot in good manner.

Outside a restaurant serving western food:

Tan Ah Beng went to Shanghai and opened a Westerngstyle restaurant


They also serve special food for special people like you and me!

Carrefour Shanghai’s Price Guarantee:

Let’s go Carrefour buy some bang products!
(The word ‘bang’ in this case is the direct translation of the Chinese word °ô (bang4), which means ‘good quality’)

This Mr Brown dunno how to zhng his car, so he became a coffee milk mascot instead.

Mobile phone charging station:

Shanghai people don’t charge their phones. They electrify it.

And my personal favourite:

Third Annual Liang Yang Community Friendly Soccer Match.

Dunno why suddenly got antithetical couplet ocean coming up.

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102 Replies to “Everiday Shanghai Engrish”

  1. Dear Kenny,
    I have been reading our posts for the past few days and I just wanna tell you that I really like the way you write. I envy your writing flair and I really hope that I can have that as well. Anyways, just wanna say I hope that you will blog more often say maybe about twice a day so I will have something to do…by the way, I read through your posts from day 1 til now….anyways do post more often…

  2. Oh god,I think the Shanghainese people have to go for English lessons.
    The train one is funny.
    Kenny,in Singapore MRT stations they do put a sign saying ‘no cameras’

  3. Awesome post. I remember flying China Eastern a few years ago, they printed “please do not steal the airplane” on the wrapping of their plastic eating utensils.
    In case anyone is wondering what “lines of cantion” is:
    \Can”tion\, n. [L. cantio, from canere to sing.] A song or verses. [Obs.] –Spenser.
    Fooyoh…almost as ‘power’ as the “antithetical couplet ocean”

  4. This is nothing, go to the provinces of China, like Hainan, you will find engrish that is totally incomprehensible, beyond anything that you have seen before.

  5. The Chinese’ll get there. At least they’re still better than the Koreans. Gosh, even my phone menu goes by Engrish…. or Konglish ~ whatever you wanna callit!

  6. Simply Bantai Syndrome strikes again!
    When once I said, ‘Give them a chance, these people are trying,’ the reply came back, ‘Yes, very trying.’ What to do?

  7. Obviously, most of the hilarious Engrish we see in China (or any other places, like our Motherland Malaysia) are results of direct translation from other languages.
    Chinese (and other languages) has its own little special twists that convey exaggerated meanings, like how English has puns. My point is, Chinese people usually think of a great “tagline” or something for their signboards, and they refer to the dictionary for a direct translation. That is also the problem with us, people who are trying to learn English as a second/third language.
    We should all understand the language to learn it, instead of learning it through another language as a medium. After all, “zhuan mai” is not necessarily done by monopolying the market.

  8. Oui shit. What the hell was all that? They should at least refer to a dictionary or something before printing all those. They didnt realise that it’s humiliating their own country with all those. But it’s one good thing to laugh at though..

  9. Good one Kenny… Of course I’ve been hearing and reading broken English so often, this post doesnt seem as funny to me as it should be. Damnit!!!

  10. Walao… all this in a big city like SHANGHAI???
    Hmmm…. Not only do they need to clean up their famous toilets for Beinjing 2008, but erm…their english signage etc too….
    That said though…. it’s damn funny! Hehe 😛

  11. i pity them… they want to prove that their English is as good as everyone else’s, and end up using words even people don’t know, and end up kena laughed at. aiyah, use basic English lah! so simple!

  12. Hi, Kenny, enjoy your post…discovered something in the sign for hp charging…the word “destoried”…the people basically created their own version, maybe shanghailish (as in singlish?)..thanks for the laughs..

  13. hey kenny. i went there last month. i took hell lot of picture just like you did. but my all time favourite was this signboard directing us to the “PUBIC PHONE”. there’s another one i found in the hotel’s bathroom beside the bathtub. they wrote “BEWARE OF LANDSLIDE”. my fcking god. i seriously laughed my ass off. the whole bloody night.

  14. one of the funniest chinese to english translation we were shown in our translation class was the translation of dried food (gan huo or something) the translation came out “fuck goods” and it’s used in an actual supermarket.


  16. no. u can’t walk across the wall if you’re incredible hulk. only Harry Potter can do so!…..well.. at Platform 3/4

  17. haha…
    In my 3 mths in SHanghai, I saw this brand of mineral water called “WHAHA Mineral Water”. WHAHAHA.
    I actually saw a sign board of a sex condom kinda shop near Shanghai’s Raffles Place…
    It says “Good Good Sex in Shanghai Healthcare thing.”

  18. These Chinese mainlanders really make us laugh out loud with their broken English 😀 If it’s not for their terrible English, we wouldn’t have gotten such free entertainment from by reading their signs ;p

  19. Micheal Chua> u bet! its really difficult to understand what they say…. but conversely if u attempt to speak their PU TONG HUA, I guess it’s their turn to laugh at us.

  20. Magnetic Levitation is the technology used by Siemens etc to float the train, I think the Shanghai MagLev train line is the 1st one built outside of Germany, you can laugh and chide at the mainland chinese command of english but you will have to look up to them in these high tech infrastructure they are racing to install in their country.

  21. hmm… ya ya, the English is bad, but bearing in mind that it was directly translated from mandarin, doesn’t it also highlight what a sophisticated and poetic people the chinese are…
    “Antithetical couplet”
    “lines of cantion”
    … fantastic, man!
    If only we in the English-speaking world used such language:
    “Buy Proton: The staccato of the campro engine, like iambic pentameter, will reverbrate throughout your soul”

  22. lolx… i believe the first pic about the restaurant… shows the sign saying actually “Chinese-Western Fusion Cuisine”
    there is room for improvement back in china i guess…

  23. I took a few pix of signboards too when i visited China for 12 days end of last year. Their awful engreesh really cracked me up and its the only thing i look forward to snap on the digicam thru out the tour.

  24. I was amazed at their english, thus make me believe that the email of their english menu is true!! maybe you would like to take a look.
    hey, how can i add it as a trackback to this entry like in tomorrow.sg?

  25. I was amazed at their english, thus make me believe that the email of their english menu is true!! maybe you would like to take a look.
    hey, how can i add it as a trackback to this entry like in tomorrow.sg?

  26. I juz got back from Shanghai. Yupz..lotsa of interesting stuff esp at Xiang Yang. Their LV bags even have dust covers !!!
    And their Frank Muller watches’ mechanisms are just like the real thingy. Took a few interesting photos too n was juz done with posting them up. 🙂

  27. omg. you know what’s even funnier? the fact that these people who mock and laugh at the awful english actually USE awful english when they comment! so chao ah lian/beng!
    so eww, my milk wanted to curdle up and die.

  28. u have really, really funny stuff here. seriously made me lmao. this just proves how bad their english is. china standard. LOL

  29. uh hello? dude i think you got to brush up on your own language skills before you go lampoon people like that. i mean you can’t actually blame them. english is just not their thing ok? plus all your digs? despite you trying to be all cutting edge and stuff? its so bad it actually falls one short of being lame. so like? go screw yourself, pal.
    you want cutting edge? visit http://www.bryanboy.com. HE’S the real cutting edge mod cool shiznit.

  30. To be honest, I think they are doing a good job to entertain everyone of us but we should not have laugh at them as they have 99.99% population who learn one language “Mandarin”. They are doing these signboard so that you jerks (whoever that is laughing yet could not read Mandarin words and having difficulty understanding it) could visit China without problem looking for “Toilot”. I bet Malaysian will be a laughing stock if the whole country is going to convert all signboard to “German” or “French”. Guess you need to learn “Be Considerate”

  31. sebastian..so angry meh?we’re not laughin at them la but we juz cant help but 2 feel amused bah.ok la,next time we all NEED TO LEARN BE CONSIDERATE.wateva that means.LOL..
    ive a hsemate from china & i find her engrish 2 b somewhat funny also.but i respect these kinda ppl cuz at least they’re tryin,rite or not? so yeah..we shud give ’em sum credit la kan?

  32. Take it easy, pal. i believe kenny doesn’t mean to humuliate anybody. you got to agree that most of our daily laughters come from teasing our friends or family members.
    this funny translation happen when we do word by word direct translation from one language to another one. but what puzzle me is their courage of publicize the translation which they don’t even know what it means. probably because people who knows english (including the china citizens themselves) not bother to help to correct the mistake.

  33. Well, you can’t really expect every nook and cranny of Shanghai to hire a translator and publisher that revises their signs. Half that people can’t even tell anyways.
    That was a good laugh though.

  34. Hey guys, if you are wondering how these “Excellent” Engilishi came from, try it out by traslating a phase from english to chinese using a online translation program. You will get the same result!!!!

  35. I just dont understand how you can make fun with those Mainland Chinese’s English. You should understand what’s their culture and how they were all brought up using Mandarin. Shame on those who make fun out of this.

  36. i couldn’t believe that those ppl who make fun of chinese english, do you think u ppl speak good english,i ve been to malaysia 3 times and what my impression is ppl speak creappy english with a crappy funny accent. English is a pretty much new thing for china and the mainly language there which is Mandarin…so how can u expect that ppl has a high leavel of enlgish? and i am sure those native speakers would laugh at malaysia english as well

  37. I think we cannot blame the China pple…coz they do not grow up learning English..As with the taiwanese too but some of them can really speak pretty good english though. Dun be surprised. ^_^

  38. I’ve seen this in Shanghai on the menu: “the crab fries the noodles”. I thought, “I got to see that.”

  39. Ive seen a sign at carrefour gubei in Shanghai which says ‘No Playing On The Stars’ which was refering to the walkalator

  40. “Mr Brown coffee has been around for at least decade. It’s from Taiwan, btw.”
    Actually, it is quite popular here in Europe.

  41. OMGoooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooood
    That is freakin hilarious
    Lordie lordie lordie
    God bless Shanghai english signs!!!!!

  42. suertes:
    “the french are just as bad as the chinese – they eat frogs too. ”
    I resent that. I really do. Maybe that’s because I am French; and I do eat frogs: my Chinese wife cooks them, it’s a Chinese dish.
    Some people around the world believe that native English speakers are terribly self-centered in thinking that every other country should speak to them, and ‘sign’ to them, in English. Talk to me in broken French and I will answer in broken English, and no superior feelings on both sides. Also, if you think that all foreign food is disgusting and foul, you’re welcome to stay at home with your hamburger as a company.
    I speak fluent Mandarin; and some English, I guess. Also basic German, Spanish, Romanian; some Japanese, a smattering of Cantonese, Taiwanese… That would give *me* the right to laugh at others’ ineptness at languages — how’s your French? But in fact when someone speaks even only a few words of my native tongue, I take it as a sign of goodwill.
    Thank God, in a few decades, *you* will have to learn Mandarin; I can’t wait, I am always tickled to death by the mistakes of foreigners who think they speak Chinese. Not an easy language, my friend…

  43. not the case. The joke is on you. Shows you were unable to read the Chinese sign, and to understand that the English was truncated by the picture edge.
    whahaha, man, u luk so silly. That’s hilarious. Ill-washed, fat foreigners unable to read 4 basic characters, even 10-year olds can read that… OMG… (etc etc)

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