The Chinglish Beat

Over the last few weeks, I’ve been gathering written examples of Chinglish. And good thing, too, as Beijing is trying to eliminate the fun from its streets—here we go again with this phrase—in anticipation of the 2008 Olympics.

That’s a shame, because Chinglish is excellent. Like any number of mating languages that over time may result in a widely used patois and over a longer period of time an official language, Chlnglish reveals possibilities in my native tongue that have never occurred to me. Familiar words refracted by a different linguistic prism emerge tilted, angled, showing an unfamiliar face. It’s like learning the key to the psyche of someone you thought you knew intimately. It makes you reconsider your assumptions. It’s revelatory. It’s delightful. And sometimes, of course, it’s just hilarious.

Here’s a poem I wrote from Chinglish that I’ve found resonant for one reason or another. Aside from a few articles and one “you,” I haven’t added anything. I’ve just—assembled.

Conveniently, it’s free verse, so spare me any lectures about meter. But do let me know what you think. Title suggestions welcome!


Take attention
the tasty is coming!

Are you sniveling?
No smorking!

Beautiful white
beautiful armor
protects skin
sends the technical inspector
for general cuts
and high-level cuts
assuredly mixed.

“Overthrow the wealth!”
—the pamphlet start of our undertaking
the vicissitudes of dynasties.

The restroom is now suspended.

don’t stay!

be ready for it

constant hot showers
in the everbright fun land
in the swingbar leisure zone

be for time.

—a person so reside—
—a stopcock—
—a beast face—
are my top-grade nutlet.

8 Replies to “The Chinglish Beat”

  1. Nice entry. I like the idea of Chinglish poems and fully agree with what you wrote about chinglish and the possibilities it offers as a new language over time…

  2. Oh, if only I could be in Everbright Fun Land! Or maybe Swingbar Leisure Zone, if I were feeling a bit naughty.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.