Oliver Radtke knows several languages. But he is a polyglot with a difference. Radtke is an expert in a portmanteau language: Chinglish. Radtke
discovered the odd world of 'Chinglish' in 2000 in a Shanghai cab, where he saw a curious sign reading: "Don't forget to carry your thing." Nine
years later, the German multimedia producer has written two popular books on the subject.
"There is a lot in Chinglish that is so much more than just incompetent English," said the 32-year-old Radtke, who focuses on written examples of the lingo on signboards, menu cards and shop fronts."Chinglish signs carry a certain Chinese notion which sensitizes us to the Chinese way of thinking." The view held by many--not least by the Chinese authorities--is that Chinglish is an embarrassment that must be wiped out, but Radtke disagreed. The Beijing resident's favourite Chinglish sign is outside a public lavatory: "You can enjoy the fresh air after finishing a civilized urinating."
We are a voice to you; you have been a support to us. Together we build journalism that is independent, credible and fearless. You can further help us by making a donation. This will mean a lot for our ability to bring you news, perspectives and analysis from the ground so that we can make change together.
Comments are moderated and will be published only after the site moderator’s approval. Please use a genuine email ID and provide your name. Selected comments may also be used in the ‘Letters’ section of the Down To Earth print edition.