Campaign Spotlight

J. Walter Thompson Shanghai, ElaN show humorous dangers of bad translation

SHANGHAI – There are Chinese-English mistranslations everywhere in China – on tourist signs, menus, signs and printed on T-shirts. This can be amusing to native English speakers, but also confusing.

In this series of print ads for ElaN Languages, a business translation service, J. Walter Thompson Shanghai collected snapshots of some of the most mistranslated “Chinglish” from across China, to hilarious effect.

The tortured translations came from menus – “’Sixi roasted husband,’ anyone?”, – road signs – “Racist park,” “Kiss and Ride” – and finally, supermarkets – “F**ck the fruit area.”


The message: Get it right.

“This is a real, tongue-in-cheek look into life in China. Many foreigners who have lived or travelled to China will be able to recount the irony and hilarity of ‘Chinglish,” said Carlos Camacho, executive creative director at J. Walter Thompson Shanghai. “It’s a unique cultural happening but also a brilliant interceptive opportunity.”

ElaN, which is both a language translation service and school, is based in Belgium with offices in the Netherlands and Russia. With an eye to the fast-growing English-training market in China, J. Walter Thompson Shanghai and J. Walter Thompson Amsterdam collaborated to come up with an insightful idea for ElaN to promote its services in Asia.

Partner with adobo Magazine

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