Standards to improve English signage

Updated 2017-06-21 11:09:32 China Daily

China released its first national standards on the use of English in public service areas on Tuesday in an effort to eradicate errors and provide better services to English speakers.

The standards include principles on the use of English - including translations from Chinese - in 13 public sectors, including transportation, tourism, entertainment, sports and education.

They include avoiding word-for-word translations, rarely used vocabulary and expressions that damage the image or interests of China or other nations.

The standards, jointly released by China's Standardization Administration, the Ministry of Education and the State Language Commission, will be adopted on December 1.

They also include more than 3,700 recommended English translations for Chinese commonly used in public service sectors.

"With deepening reform and opening-up, and intensified international exchanges in China, foreign language services for public sectors are still inadequate, and misuse and mistranslation happen frequently," said Tian Shihong, head of the Standardization Administration.

"Improving standardization in languages is necessary for us to promote opening-up at a higher level and improve China's international image."

Du Zhanyuan, vice-minister of education, said the standards are expected to improve foreign language services and regulation of Chinese-English translation in public service areas.

Tian Lixin, an official helping supervise language use at the Ministry of Education, said formulation of the standards started in 2011, with the participation of prominent foreign language experts from China and native English-speaking countries.

"We hope the standards will improve the use of English in public service sectors for better communication," said Chai Mingjiong, chief expert for formulation of the standards and former president of the Graduate Institute of Interpretation and Translation at Shanghai International Studies University.

"With more and more foreigners in China, the English used for public services is not satisfactory. There are excessive mistranslations and sometimes they are a laughingstock or even result in the opposite meaning," Chai said.

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