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Qin's English

When the Chinese decide to put their minds to something, they usually end up doing a pretty good job of it.

india Updated: Aug 07, 2006 01:44 IST

When the Chinese decide to put their minds to something, they usually end up doing a pretty good job of it. In a campaign that can only be termed as ‘Let Not A Thousand Englishes Bloom’, Beijing is on its way to eradicating ‘Chinglish’, the colourful but erroneous use of the English language Chinese-style. The 2008 Beijing Olympics has given the authorities the Big Hurry-Up. No self-respecting Chinese with even a passing knowledge of the third most widely spoken language in the world (Mandarin Chinese leads the way) wants foreign tourists to find their way inside, say, Beijing’s ‘Racist Park’ — which is what the sign says at the entry of the Park of Ethnic Minorities.

But apart from summer tourists in Beijing posing in front of ‘funny’ signposts, there is the matter of learning English to do business with the rest of the world. Whether one likes it or not, English is the global link language. The French have pretty much given up their battle against Anglais. Closer home, apart from grand gestures of changing ‘British-time’ city and street names to something more desi, we too now know that learning to speak, read and understand a standardised English is more about global — as well as national — connectivity than playing Brown Saheb.

The Chinese, lagging behind in the English department, have finally got their Henry Higgins act started. Which doesn’t mean we have to dismantle that roadside eatery sign which states: “Snakes available.”