The commission has expert translators and English speakers on staff but also relies on hundreds of volunteers. It has corrected more than 10,000 signs over the past two years. The article by Andrew Jacobs gives some wonderful examples of mangled syntax and vocabulary.
But just like the efforts to stamp out regional variations of English, this effort can lead to homogenization. One English translator and teacher, Jeffery Yao, quoted in the story, points out how the Chinglish signs can be poetic.
“Some of it tends to be expressive, even elegant,” he said, shuffling through an online catalog of signs that were submitted by the volunteers who prowled Shanghai with digital cameras. “They provide a window into how we Chinese think about language.”
A "Keep off the Grass" sign might be translated, he says, as “The Little Grass Is Sleeping. Please Don’t Disturb It” or “Don’t Hurt Me. I Am Afraid of Pain.” That is a fascinating image.
The main objective of the Shanghai effort is to head off confusion and derisive laughter, the article says, but it may also have the effect of making the signs less interesting, too.
The article is accompanied by a slide show of signs.