Thursday, March 11, 2004

 
Everybody's Talkin'
The staff just got word that the paper is instituting an "English only" policy in the newsroom. Except for personal business, all other oral in-office exchanges are supposed to be conducted in English.
It follows a strong suggestion made recently by the SZ mayor who seems hell-bent on his vision of SZ becoming an "international, civilized city" that "average Shenzhen citizens" conduct their business in English. It's laughable, of course, because despite what hizzoner might want to believe, the "average" SZ resident speaks about as much English as the average American speaks Chinese.
Virtually all the SZ Daily staffers speak fairly fluent English, and they aren't taking any of it too seriously. Indeed, a senior reporter who missed the English-only meeting just laughed when I relayed the news to him. "They have done that twice before at the paper," he said. "It never works. It is unnatural."
But if the mayor is serious he might want to start with the printed word in some of SZ's businesses. At lunch today I was handed an "English" menu that featured these appetizing descriptions:
"One plate of suburb greasepaint will be offered."
"Meal is also offering one cup of overdone routine soup."
I laughed, but after my meal I concluded that I had to give them credit for truth in advertising.

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