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Interview: ICS's Chinglish Guru

**James Lee** is the producer of the television show Expo Connection on ICS, which has launched the **Write It Right** campaign to rid Shanghai’s streets of Chinglish. **City Weekend: What is the Write It Right campaign and who is involved?** James Lee: It’s a city-wide initiative to hunt for improperly translated English sign boards around Shanghai, including road signs and shop signs, and help correct those mistakes in a bid to prepare Shanghai for the Expo. **CW: Who are these brave souls deployed to hunt down Chinglish in Shanghai?** JL: Anyone can join the campaign. People can upload pictures of Chinglish signs on to the website www.kaixin001.com. At the same time, volunteers from major universities across Shanghai will form so called “Woodpecker” teams to hunt for Chinglish signs together with foreign hosts from ICS. **CW: Are they native English speakers?** JL: Hosts from ICS are native English speakers. The Woodpecker teams are Chinese. But Chinese students looking for Chinglish sign boards is even more interesting, isn’t it? **CW: You might have some problems there. What is the most funny piece of Chinglish you’ve ever seen?** JL: It was on the menu of a local restaurant. They translated kiwi juice into “strange fruit juice.” **CW: That sounds pretty sensible. Who drinks kiwi juice, anyway? The fact is, laowai in Shanghai love to see Chinglish. It’s the only time we feel slightly less sheepish about our rubbish putonghua skills. Are you tempted to save the best Chinglish signs? Maybe exhibit them in the future?** JL: After we collect sufficient amount of Chinglish sign boards, we may compile a book and report that to the Expo Bureau. For some of the translations that may have already been accepted by people, we might help save them and for exhibitions. So far we haven’t had a plan yet. **CW: That’s more like it! If you got rid of all the Chinglish in town, some of Shanghai’s character would be gone.** JL: Do you think you can get rid of all the Chinglish in Shanghai in just several months? I think it will take some time. How long exactly, am not sure. **Write it Right is a regular segment of Expo Connection, which is on ICS every Wednesday evening at 8:30pm.**


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This sounds nice, some of the charm of Shanghai will no doubt be lost with the eradication of its more amusing signs, but that's progress. On the subject of signs, do you think you could pass on the message to your handlers, James, that there need to be MORE signs throughout the city letting people know about the Expo? I had the shock of my life yesterday when I read this article and learned that next year in Shanghai there would be an Expo! I quite literally had NO IDEA that in 2010 Shanghai would be hosting the World Expo! When was the announcement made? Don't you think the marketing campaigns are awfully low-key? Here are my suggestions: *Increase Expo-related programming on ICS to about 8 hours a day, making sure to mention the Expo in every commercial break in some way. *On news channels and radio, ensure that the first announcement is about the Expo. *Immediately start a countdown to the opening of the Expo - it may be too late to begin this, I would have suggested that this begin two or three years ago, but there's no use crying over spilt milk and lost time needs to be regained. Ensure that the countdown is marked at regular intervals throughout the day on the television and radio. *A marketing blitz across newspapers and magazines, children's information networks and internet. Ensure that the word "Expo" is featured on front pages, inside-front and outside covers to ensure maximum exposure. *Link with schools, colleges and universities, use their curricula as a marketing tool be infusing all aspects of learning with Expo-related themes. *Cover walls, street signs, taxis and buses with Expo-related materials. You honestly can't miss an opportunity to get the common citizen talking about this. This needs to be big guys, don't worry about oversaturating! :)
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