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Chinglish is winning.

August 31, 2009 at 10:36 p.m.

Denger Road. No thoroughfare.

With the World Expo coming, Shanghai has joined the War on Chinglish. And so, as sure as there is smog in Beijing, there is a new round of stories touting China's official efforts to copy edit the worst linguistic offenders.

None of this is new.

But it gets me thinking about Chinglish again, and more broadly, Konglish, Singlish and all the other creoles, sublanguages and other linguistic concoctions people use when one language just isn't enough.

In 2007, the IHT noted the rise of English as the first truly global language:

As a new millennium begins, scholars say ...

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Magazines, and other things to love about living in America

July 16, 2008 at 2:36 a.m.

Perhaps you've seen the cover of the most recent New Yorker, drawn by Barry Blitt. Perhaps you, like Barack Obama's campaign, were offended by the image of the candidate dressed in Muslim garb, mimicking that of Osama bin Laden, who is pictured in a framed portrait over a fireplace, wherein an American flag is burning. Michelle Obama is a Black Panther in extreme, toting a Kalashnikov and giving her husband that famous fist-bump (or is it a terrorist fist-jab?). It's possible I have no taste or decency, which is why I laughed.

Satire is tough, and good ...

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China's top schools go beyond its top cities

June 12, 2008 at 8:23 a.m.

I'm finishing up a long project on second-tier Chinese cities for a real estate newsletter, and clearly, I now have second-tier cities on the brain.

CN Reviews posted a list of the Middle Kingdom's top 30 universities, according to the China Academy of Management Science (h/t China Law Blog), and I couldn't help count how many were in smaller cities. For purposes of consistency, I'm calling Beijing, Shanghai, Guangzhou and Shenzhen the first tier, and anything else is second-tier or lower. By that standard, two-thirds (20/30) of China's top 30 campuses are in ...

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Bush's Nepal Policy and the Olympics

April 17, 2008 at 2:02 a.m.

This should worry people on both sides of the Pacific:

(via Danwei)

Stephen Hadley is the National Security Adviser to President George W. Bush. He was Condoleeza Rice's number two in Bush's first term, before Rice moved to State.

Think what you want about China's policy out west, where dissidents have clashed with police over religious freedom and national identity, where history can be confusing and complicated and politics even more so.

Just make sure you know what country you're thinking about.

Hadley said two days later he favors "quiet diplomacy" with China. The Australian quotes ...

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Marines and Motherfuckers

March 13, 2008 at 11:04 p.m.

About three paragraphs into the story I was writing on a the homecoming party for a squad of local Marines, my editor popped her head around the cubicle with a suggestion:

"Do you think you could take out the drinking and the swearing?" she asked. We were, she reminded me, a family newspaper. (Note: It's been a couple years since I worked there.)

I've never figured out what that means, exactly, a "family newspaper." We printed some grisly stuff: car and train wrecks, blood stains on sidewalk, skeletons of houses gutted by fire.

And marines are vulgar. Take ...

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Mess of a language: It's London's fault.

April 10, 2007 at 11:23 a.m.

My friend Nik (better known as the Funky Mother on DalianXpat.com) posted a fascinating story on the expat forum that got me thinking. It seems the historically recent butchery of English, as it's spoken by those who still have a queen, is the fault of those living at the very heart of that once-upon-a-time empire.

Who put the R in bath? Surely this is a trick question, you may think, there is no R in bath. But if you search hard enough in certain parts of Britain the rogue consonant is there - squatting erroneously between the A and ...

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Three Language Daze

March 29, 2007 at 7:14 p.m.

Every time I see my friend Miguel, I know I'm going to wake up the next day with a headache.

It's not his fault. I just can't switch languages fast enough. Every time I see him, it means I'm speaking three languages in one day.

Miguel is a Spaniard and fluent in Italian, so I usually try to speak as much of la bella lingua with him as possible. Now that there's a group of Venetian girls studying in Dalian, I'm getting more practice, since some of them don't speak English.

I'm ...

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How do you get to the Apollo?

November 28, 2006 at 9:30 a.m.

My friend Derrick has a post up that I've been meaning to write for a while. It's something every foreign teacher seems to run across a few times a week.

A student (mine or not, doesn't matter) will ask how they can improve their oral English. Not their English, no one seems to want to practice reading or writing. Sometimes they ask about listening. I used to give a fairly detailed response, based on my experience learning Italian and trying to learn Chinese. It involved immersing oneself in the language, watching TV and listening to the radio ...

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Ni parli Chitaliano?

November 22, 2006 at 4:40 a.m.

"How is education supposed to make me feel smarter? Besides, every time I learn something new, it pushes some old stuff out of my brain. Remember when I took that home winemaking course, and I forgot how to drive?" -- Homer J. Simpson
My Chinese is awful. After three months of rather casual study, mostly focusing on saying things that get me to and from work and a meal somewhere between, I'm up to the point of saying simple sentences and butchering most of the language. My Italian, on the other hand, is getting steadily worse. Now, I was never ...

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Everything's in German!

November 21, 2006 at 4:39 a.m.

This is what happens when your internet connection is routed through a handful of other servers in other parts of the world. Sometimes the Internet thinks you're in Germany.

That's fine, really. So long as it doesn't know I'm in China, I'm OK and I can update this blog and do all the other fine upstanding things I like to do online (like freeing Tibet, declaring Taiwan's independence and talking about Tiananmen, or just downloading American TV shows). I just have to figure out how to say "Publish" in German.

But today, this site ...

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I solemnly swear I am not Canadian. Also, a bit about aliens.

September 30, 2006 at 9:51 a.m.

I interviewed for a side job last night as a native proofreader helping a local translator make his work sound like an American wrote it. We met at a coffee shop, where he was looking through recent projects. We'd spoken online and emailed a few times; this was the first face-to-face.

First question: "What's the difference between American and Canadian English?"

I'd never actually thought about this. I don't really think about the English we speak in the States and that of our northern neighbors as being any different at all, except a slight accent we ...

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"Non parlo cinese," and useful Italian phrases in Beijing

August 24, 2006 at 6:12 a.m.

I've spoken more Italian since I came to Beijing than at almost any time since I left Europe three years ago. Why? Because I'm white, and I don't speak Chinese.

My hosts this week, Lindsey and Alex, warned me my first night here about two common scams used to separate foreigners from their money. One involves inviting the unsuspecting laowai to tea, where everyone orders and the new guy is stuck with an exorbitant bill. I haven't run across this one, yet, but give it time.

The second trick, and the one I ran into at ...

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Doing the Bathtub Backstroke to Beijing

July 11, 2006 at 6:29 a.m.

A few days ago, my martial arts instructor said to me: "Nihao ma?"

I knew what she meant--"Hello, how are you?"--but I stared at her with a puzzled look and squinted at her in the dark parking lot. I scratched my head and finally admitted that I had no idea how to properly respond. Countdown to China: Six weeks, give or take.

A friend of mine once said: "Learning a language in the United States is like learning to swim in a bathtub."

So far, I've learned three whole words in Mandarin. I can say hello (nihao ...

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