Posted by Joel Martinsen on Monday, November 2, 2009 at 12:45 PM
The Beijing Subway system recently issued a bilingual safety manual for riders on the Airport Express line. Zhai Hua, a blogger who posts on cross-cultural issues, noted several types of problems with the booklet:
On October 30, the Beijing Youth Daily summarized Zhai's blog post and asked the subway company for an explanation:
"Experts" could conceivably argue over whether to use "metro" or "subway," if the city hadn't already decided on the latter, but many of the errors in the pamphlet are indefensible.
Zhai notes that few years ago, an "expert" was cited in defense of Shanghai's use of "model unit" as a translation of, an honor bestowed on organizations that meet certain standards of excellence. Zhai and other Internet commentators felt that the city's translation captured none of the meaning of the original and could be misinterpreted as referring to a promotional apartment unit in a new development.
The city's response to Xinmin Online:
Other parts of the country use "civilized unit," a translation that has its own problems. Yet when pressed, they would probably be able to justify the choice by appealing to the judgment of an expert.
Links and Sources
China Media Timeline
Major media events over the last three decades
Danwei Model Workers
The latest recommended blogs and new media
Front Page of the Day
A different newspaper every weekday
From the Vault
Classic Danwei posts
+ Culture and corporate propaganda in Soho Xiaobao (2007.11): Mid-2007 issues of Soho Xiaobao (SOHO小报), illustrating the complicated identity of in-house magazines run by real estate companies.
+ Internet executives complain about excessive Net censorship (2010.03): Internet executives complain about excessive Net censorship at an officially sanctioned meeting in Shenzhen.
+ Crowd-sourced cheating on the 2010 gaokao (2010.06): A student in Sichuan seeks help with the ancient Chinese section of this year's college entrance exam -- while the test is going on!