Poster language

Published: Monday 30 November -0001

-- 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."

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