Here I would like to recommend a book to our translators, editors, and QAs – The Translator’s Guide to Chinglish by Joan Pinkham with the collaboration of Jiang Guihua, which is published by the Foreign Language Teaching And Research Press.

This book is written primarily for Chinese translators, advanced students of English who are practicing translation, and people working in journalism, foreign affairs, business, tourism, advertising, and many other fields. Readers who open this book are expected to have basic knowledge of English grammar. Any readers who want a review of grammar can find the subject in other books.

The purpose of this book is rather to show translators – and, by extension, others who are writing directly in English – how to recognize elements of Chinglish in a first draft and how to revise it so as to eliminate those elements. In other words, this book is intended to help them turn their work into real English such as might have been written by an educated native speaker of the language.

This book is divided into three parts – Part One: Unnecessary Words; Part Two: Sentence Structure; and Part Three: Supplementary Examples.

In Part One, the author introduces five scenarios of unnecessary word usage, including unnecessary nouns and verbs, unnecessary modifiers, redundant twins, saying the same thing twice, and repeated references to the same thing, with a summary at the end of this part. Part Two enumerates six poor sentence structures, including noun plague, misused pronouns and antecedents, misplacement of phrases and clauses, dangling modifiers, unnecessary parallel structure, and improper logical connectives, also with a summary at the end.

Let’s look inside the book:

I. Unnecessary Nouns and Verbs

Most unnecessary nouns in Chinglish appear not alone but in short phrases, combined with articles and prepositions. Many of these nouns are plainly redundant because their sense is already included or implied in some other element of the sentence.

Example 1: to accelerate the pace of economic reform

Suggested revision: to accelerate economic reform

[“to accelerate” = “to increase the pace of”]

Example 2: these hardships are temporary in nature

Suggested revision: these hardships are temporary

[Any adjective describes the “nature” or “character” of the noun it modifies. To say that hardships are “temporary in nature” is like saying that the Chinese flag is “red in color” or that pandas are “few in number.”]

VII. The Noun Plague

Plain English is a language based on verbs. It is simple, concise, vigorous and, above all, clear. Chinglish is a language based on nouns – vague, general, abstract nouns. It is complicated, long-winded, ponderous, and obscure. We examine three types that contribute nothing to the meaning of a sentence and can simply be eliminated:

– Redundant nouns (“to accelerate the pace of economic reform” = “to accelerate economic reform”; “there have been good harvests in agriculture” = “there have been good harvests”)

– Empty nouns (“following the realization of mechanization” = “following the mechanization”; “we must pay attention to promoting” = “we must promote”)

– Category nouns (“opposing the practice of extravagance” = “opposing extravagance”; “to achieve the objective of clarity” = “to be clear”)

We suggest that our translators, editors, and QAs who undertake Chinese-to-English translation, revision, or proofreading tasks should use simple, concise, vigorous, and clear English to improve the readability of our deliverables. This guide is absolutely worth of reading.