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September 24, 2004

Shanghai to Clean Up its English

Shanghai, which prides itself as China's most cosmopolitan city, has announced a plan to organize its somewhat chaotic English signs over the next three years, according to an AP story in the Taiwan News. A 26-member committee that includes some non-Chinese has been established to draw up a set of rules about correct English usage. A priority is street signs, written in Chinese and English (and sometimes Japanese) but very inconsistently. For example, signs indicating Xizang Rd., Tibet Lu and Xizang Lu all refer to the same major downtown thoroughfare. Other examples of bizarre translations or idiosyncratic English can be found almost everywhere. "Please make well use of this facility in lieu of using tissue for hand dry," says a sign atop a lavatory hand drier.

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