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Chinglish Slang

Chinglish Slang

Chinglish, a portmanteau of the words Chinese and English, is an English pseudo-dialect heavily affected by Chinese grammar and accent.

The term "Chinglish", though generally implying poor translation, can also refer specifically to an English-Chinese creole language. This is particularly true in areas that have both English and Chinese as official languages, such as Singapore and Hong Kong. (When specifically discussing the English dialect of Singapore, Singlish may be more appropriate.)

For Chinese speakers learning English, Chinglish may also be viewed as a pidgin, referring to the type of English that they use while learning which falls somewhere between their native Chinese and fluent English, and therefore undesirable. Though the use of the phrase "Chinglish" can be viewed by learners as either an insult or a joke. Some foreign teachers also refer to a school's inadequate language department as the "Chinglish Dept."

"Chinglish" is also used to describe the broken Chinese interspersed with English used by westernized Chinese (e.g. American born Chinese) who are no longer fluent in their parents' language and must use English words to supplement their limited Chinese vocabulary.

Chinglish spoken by Chinese learners of English


Inaccurate pronunciation or misspellings through typos or poor pronunciation may result in Chinglish.

For example, the word "temple" and "temper" may be confused, as both would be pronounced similarly to "Tem-po" or "Tem-pah". Note that the two English words, when poorly pronounced, may resemble each other to the extent that the two are indistinguishable; this further creates confusion. Sometimes, the poor pronunciation of a single English word can create a Chinglish pronunciation that is almost nothing like the original English word. For example, the company named "Zellers" (part of the Hudson's Bay Company) is often incorrectly pronounced as "Se La".

Also confusion with English names is common. For many Chinese it's difficult to pronounce Allen, Ellen and Aileen differently, same with Shirley, Shelly and Cherry.

In Cantonese pronunciation, some consonants are considered equivalent and interchangeable, such as L and N. The cartoon dog "Snoopy" may become "Sloopy", and the girl's name "Emily" may become "Eminy". Some sounds are missing entirely, leaving words like "very" to be pronounced "wewy" in true Elmer Fudd style. In speech, there is also a tendency to add the sound "see" or "chi" at the end of certain singular letters, such as the letters "S" and "H" ('es-see' and 'ay-chi' respectively).


Chinglish may result from grammatically erroneous usage of English, often resulting from the writer "thinking in Chinese while writing in English" (eg. verbatim word-for-word translation), such as "wipe out six injurious insect" (to wipe out six types of insects, including cockroaches and mosquitoes) and "enjoy stand" (a scenic viewpoint).

Chinglish can result from common patterns of grammatical errors. Examples include:

  »  excessive use of "the" when not needed (such as "The China is bigger than the France")
  » excessive use of verbs with the "-ing" ending.
  » excessive use of "to", the use of "to" with modals (e.g. "I must to go")
  » confusion of -ed and -ing adjectives (e.g. "I am very boring" vs. "I am very bored"; "I was surprised" vs. "I was surprising")
  » the overuse of "very" between "be" and an adjective (reflecting the use of "?" in Chinese)
  » the use of "very" to modify verbs (e.g. "I very like it")
  » the use of the passive when the active is more appropriate
  » wrong usage of verb tenses

Often a Chinese grammatical pattern will be incorporated into English grammar, such as "I tomorrow go to Shanghai" or "I this morning eat breakfast".

Also, there is much confusion regarding countable and non-countable nouns, use of plurals, and the use of "how much", "how many", "a lot of", "much" and "many". This leads to phrases such as "He has much money," "I want a soup" and "There are a lot of shoe."

Another common confusion is with prepositions, such as "on", "in", "at", which in many contexts have the same Chinese translation (zai, meaning "existing at this position"). To an extent, this reflects the idiomatic, rather than logical, way these words are used in English. An example is the often used expression "on Taiwan", as in "Republic of China on Taiwan", whereas native speakers of English are more likely to say "in Taiwan". Similarly, many Chinese students of English are confused by the difference between "at home" and "in the house".

"Welcome to"

One of the more noticeable cases of Chinglish, especially on mainland China, is the phrase welcome to. This is used as a direct translation in Chinese. It actually means "we invite you to" or "you are welcome to", and is used more as an incentive to the activity introduced; or is used as a form of "thank you". Its use is almost always cordial, inviting, or otherwise positive. A more confusing matter arises with the usage of the phrase welcome again. This is used more at the end of, for example, a bus ride, or a visit to a bookstore, and would be translated as a message of thanks, and that the visitor is welcome back at any time. An equivalent phrase in English-speaking countries might be "Please come again."

  »  Welcome to ride Line 52 Bus = Thank you for riding Bus Line 52.
  »  Welcome to ride Line 13 again = Thank you for riding Line 13, and we would be pleased to welcome you back aboard at any time.
  »  Welcome to take my taxi = Thanks for taking my taxi.
  »  Welcome to listen to my news = Thanks for tuning in!
  »  Welcome to use ATM service = found very often on ATMs, means thanks for using this ATM.

Examples of Chinglish expressions

The following are some instances of Chinglish, along with a description of where they may be found and what they mean when correctly translated into English:

To take notice of safe: The slippery are very crafty. (Beijing)
= Be careful, slippery slopes.
To put out Xuanda Expressway. To put in Jingzhang Expressway. (Xuanda Expressway)
= Now leaving Xuanda Expressway, now entering Jingzhang Expressway.
Declimbing path. (Jingzhang Expressway)
= Descent
Rain or snow day. Bridge, slow-driving. (All expressways in Hebei)
= Slow on bridge in case of rain or snow.
Oil gate. / Into. (4th Ring Road (Beijing)
= Filling station. / Entrance.
Smoking is prohibited if you will be fined 50 yuan.
= Smoking is prohibited, penalty for violators is 50 yuan.
Please come down from your bicycle.
= Please dismount from your bicycle.
If you have trouble ask for the policeman. or If in trouble find police
= In case of trouble, dial the police.
Being urgent call 110 quickly. (Beijing)
= In cases of emergency, please call 110. (110 = police phone line in China, equivalent to 911 in the USA, 999 in the UK and 112 in the EU.)
Complaining tel.
= Customer service telephone.
When you leave car, please turn off door and window, take your valuable object
= Be sure to lock your doors and windows and take all valuables with you.
Engine room is serious place.
= Engine room - Caution.
Don't forget to take your thing.
= Don't forget your personal belongings.
Visit in civilisation, pay attention to hygiene!
This is a message mainly aimed at locals and other people who would otherwise visit somewhere in a sloppy manner.
Deformed man toilet.
= Public toilet for the disabled.
Crippled restroom.
= Public toilet for the disabled.
When you across hard you can ring TEL (number).
= In case of emergency, please call (number).
Danger! Inhibition astraddle transgress.
= Danger! No entry.
X Bank Shaoguan Cent Company
= X Bank Shaoguan Subsidiary
To run business ([lit. "operating"] - commonly seen sign in Mainland China and Taiwan)
= Open.
Drink tea ([lit. "resting"] - commonly seen sign in Taiwan)
= Closed.
Many Function Hall (Shanghai)
Multifunctional Hall
We can't stand the sight of mattress fragrant grass
= Don't step on the grass
Fragrant fragile walnut meat biscuits
= type of walnut cookie, made by Dali Group
Burnt meat biscuit
= type of meat flavoured biscuit
Please Drive Correctly
= traffic sign reminding people to obey the traffic rules
New Shipu Hotel
= not a hotel but a restaurant. The confusion probably results from the similarity between the Chinese word for restaurant - fan guan, and the word for hotel - fan dian, both literally meaning "Meal Shop".
Welcome to our fine restaurant
= sign in a hotel room (Note: see note above)
No gambling promote leagal entertainment
= anti-gambling propaganda poster by the Beijing police.
= instant noodles, the Chinese name literally meaning "convenient noodles".
Haw a thick soup
= Hawthorn (made by a Chengde company)
Small two pots of heads
= Erguotou, a local spirit, appearing on a menu inside Oriental Plaza, Beijing
China smoke wine & A Smoke a Wine
= Cigarette and wine shops, Beijing
Japanesque Milk Cracker
= Japanese was spelt incorrectly as Japanesque.
The luxuring nothing rail remote controlling stretches out and draws back the door
"De luxe Wireless Remote Controlled Retractable Door"; Label found on an electronic retractable security gate in Beijing.
Shopping's center
= Shopping centre entrance in Beijing.
Do not be occupying while stabilizing
= Do not use the toilet while the train is stopping at a station. (Train toilets)
Deep fried ghost and its variant, deep fried devil and oil fried ghost
: commonly known in 'proper English' as a 'Chinese donut.' It is not a donut (i.e not round, more like a submarine sandwich); basically a savoury flavoured "deep-fried foot-long piece of dough." It is a popular Chinese breakfast item. Usually served with congee (rice porridge) or soy milk. You will encounter this term only in Cantonese speaking parts. The Mandarin terminology does not translate the same.
Disabled Elevators
= Elevator for handicapped people. (CKS International Airport, Taipei)
Speaking cellphone strictly prohibited when thunderstorm - (Beijing)
= talking on cellphones not allowed during thunderstorms
No entry in peacetime
= Emergency exit (Beijing Capital International Airport)
No noising and No speak aloud
= No yelling (Beijing)
The too longer, too higher, overweight and the dangerous things are not allowed to be carried
= Escalator, Xidan, Beijing
The older, the children, the deformities, the patients and the pregnant women should take the escalator with his guardian together.
= Escalator, Xidan, Beijing
Xin Zhong Guo Kids Stuff
= shop selling commodities for children, Wangfujing, Beijing
Question Authority
= If you have questions, please ask the official in charge.
Extraordinary Door
= Emergency Exit.
= found on refuse containers that are for trash not able to be recycled.