Hongkish

What I am referring to is the style of written English in Hong Kong; Hong Kong English aka. “Hongkish”.

I had wrote about this subject back in May of this year. The article stirred up quite a few controversy among people I know and the general public Netizens who read my Blog.

I say “the written English…”, because this and the majority of the previous article are based on signs displayed in public.

Today I saw the following sign on a Star Ferry:

“Do not smoke and put your feet on the bench”

So is Star Ferry Company saying that people who don’t put their feet on the benches can smoke on the boat?

What I think Star Ferry Company wanted to say is:

“Please do not smoke or put your feet on the benches”

Another trait I noticed about Hongkish, is that it is usually the impolite version of the phrase. This is very puzzling to me, especially when the (Traditional) Chinese version is the polite form of the phrase rather than a command like the English version (Hongkish version).

Another sign I also saw within the Star Ferry was:

Please mind a moving gangplank when disembarking and embarking”

I think they meant to say:

Please mind the moving gangplank when disembarking.

When the sign is displayed well inside the boat there is no reason to mention embarking.

I believe there should be an organization formed by the government or the Tourist Association of Hong Kong to correct all these public displayed signs, before they embarrass Hong Kong any further.

3 Comments

  1. I seriously doubt it has anything to do with pre or post-1997 but I agree that you can easily hire someone who is highly educated in English grammar and these type of mistakes are inexcusable for a large corporation or for the government. But Star Ferry…well, I consider them a “pee-wee” company with limited funds and I could exempt/excuse them for molesting the Queen's language. Look at the bright side, at least they are able to use the word “gangplank”. Geez, I haven't heard anyone use that word for eons. There are more people mentioning “Gangbang” than “Gangplank” :-DConsidering I frequently browse Engrish.com, I am happy to say I don't see a lot of Hong Kong entries. As for “…being an international city…”, Tokyo being a even bigger international city, they are the worst offender and it is really them (and China of course) who made Engrish.com popular. 😀

  2. I cannot be as generous. Hong Kong being an international city there are many people who are well educated and knowledgeable about English. These people can easily find someone to create a better translation. This sort of things did not happen before 1997.The reason it happens now is mainly due to laziness.

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