CHINGLISH...Wisdom to Those in Need of Instruction.
I come from a country...where there are signs everywhere..."Stop"..."Walk"..."Do Not Walk"..."No Smoking"..."Speed Limits"...
Arrows bent & straight..."Wrong Way, Turn Back"..."Hospital"..."Police"..."Road under Repair"..."Bushfire Warning"..."One Way"..."Give Way"..."Children Crossing".
Then there are street signs...names of shops...names for everything.
But it was not until I reached Dali in Yunnan Provence...on my first trip to China...that I saw the sign that said it all...made me stop and think...to reflect on its wisdom...yet still makes me wonder..."What does it mean?"
Couldn't say it better myself:
Dear Guestes: Don' t Garn Animals.
Couldn't help but think "OK...I won't"...
yet there were no animals within coo-ee to explain it to me..!
When China emerged from the Cultural Revolution...opening to the West...to trade and invite...there was a need to adjust the myriad of signs in Chinese characters...to add an interpretation in the languages of visitors...for their guidance and assistance.
Being an immensely wise culture...enduring for 5,000 years...they chose English as the language of visitors...necessary for those signs.
Millions of signs...zillions of words...and millions of Chinese willing to make a buck...making the signs.
And thus was born...CHINGLISH...Wisdom of the Chinese...for us English speakers...in need of instruction. "Do you speak English?"...
YOU ARE WARNEDyou write English?"
would have been the job interview...each saying "Yes"...
nod of approval.
One of the first things I saw when arriving at Beijing airport on my first trip was a large metal engraved sign with hyphens at the end of most lines...the end letters of words cut off...the missing letters starting the next line...no big deal...but if I was paying for the sign I would not be happy...I'd refuse to pay for it...maybe that's what happened.
But then I started to see them all over the place...the mercurial hypen..
Then I noticed the mis-spellings...the letters jumbled around...messages of instruction...flowery...or not interpreted quite right...some funny...some confusing...requiring thought.
But the more I travelled China...the more I learnt of its incredible culture...of art...learning...construction...cuisine...I realised the Chinese do not do anything...for no reason.
Let's face it...a culture that would build a brick wall as long as the Great Wall of China...must have had a really good reason to do so!
A garden in the Forbidden City had a tree that in its season had crimson flowers...that when falling in a breeze...reminded Emperor Qianlong of falling snow...named thereafter "The Pavilion of Crimson Snowflakes"...
why didn't I think of that?...maybe
I should be naming areas at home..."my backyard"
doesn't adequately evoke such memories...or the spirituality of my place.
So I got to thinking...which got me absolutely nowhere...now what?
I travelled China...absorbing the wisdom in those signs...learning which cliffs you don't jump off...where not to light fires...how to urinate appropriately.
I even learnt how to be suspicious of my children.
He was Mr Chen...driving us to Jinshanling Great Wall...more stories of the anguish in the Cultural Revolution...and Ancient Chinese wisdom.
Three of his pearls I noted at the time:
1. "Children biting or eating the old generation"...
children who won't move out of home.
2. "Children saying "If we don't eat you...who can we eat?"...
children who argue the point.
3. "There is no such thing as a free dinner"...
everyone has an agenda.
Would have been fine...if our kids hadn't been in the back!
And travelling in China...heaps of hotels...suggest you don't try the ones with signs "NO ALIENS."
Maybe one with an invitation like this...in Leshan, Sichuan: "Welcome to Juiding Hotel! Our hotel is an excellent choice for you which will actually bring us together, make us know each other, and commence our everlasting friendship. And we will serve you heart and soul! The Hotel is the amalgamation
DO NOT JUMP of warm care, extraordinary comforts, and absolute devotion, embodying the essence of modern classical life. It satisfies your pursuit of a high-quality life and matches your wit and taste. With the pain of yesterday and the gain of today, we will begin anew tomorrow. Behind is the honour of flowers and acclaims, and before is a future full of dreams and glories. More surprises will arise along with our constant advance and creation. Let's meet at the new Juiding - where is the expectation of your dream, the destination of your love! Let's share a new feeling - which knots us hand in hand, and stirs the hope of a nice future! We're in a continual pursuit of a star-standard hotel with star-standard service. We're in an earnest prospect of your arrival with the fresh wind around the world."
That's my kindda hotel.
Relax & Enjoy,
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