English is a wonderful language for several reasons, one of which is, you can make up new words. "Chinglish" is one such made-up word.
What is "Chinglish"?
It refers to the garbled combination of Chinese and English. In defense of Chinglish, let me say, it is a reality and easy to explain how it happens. Also, I'm not "casting stones" at Chinese speakers who struggle with English, although Chinglish is a reality for many of them. As an English-speaking American who has been learning Mandarin since 1989, I certainly have struggled with my own version of Chinglish.
One often sees Chinglish on signs, and this is one of my favorites. The sign-maker wanted to say "Handicapped Restroom," or better yet, "handicapped-accessible restroom." However, it came out as "deformed man toilet.""Deformed" means badly twisted or misshapen!
At DreyerCoaching.com, we do not give our students long lists of vocabulary words and grammar points to memorize; there are more than enough "cram schools" doing that already. Instead, we want to teach "real English," the way English speakers, especially Americans, actually communicate in real life. And a big part of that is helping our students understand idioms (sayings). Idioms are non-literal sayings that communicate a point or truth. By "non-literal" I mean, the words have a symbolic, rather than a "black-and-white," meaning. And this is what makes idioms so hard to understand, especially for learners of a new language, but also so interesting. Here is an example. A common English idiom is "It's raining cats and dogs." Obviously, this does NOT mean cats and dogs are literally falling from the sky during a storm. Instead, it has a symbolic meaning: that the rain is very heavy and severe. To my knowledge, all languages have idioms, and learning them is one of the most fun and rewarding parts of learning a foreign language. I like it because different languages have their own unique ways to express a truth or insight, that one's native language might not have. For example, today I was teaching a student the idiom "to peter out," which means "to gradually weaken and end." I told him Chinese has a saying with a similar meaning: (虎头蛇尾) "Tiger Head Snake Tail." I love that imagery and metaphor! A tiger's head is ferocious and powerful, while a snake's tail gradually reduces to nothing. It's a powerful word-picture of a person or plan that starts with much noise and attention, but eventually peters out to nothing.
English is a crazy language! (This phrase comes from the hilarious writing of linguist Richard Lederer, who gives some great examples of this nutty language. You can read his essay here.) ******************** Just now in his 1 on 1 English class a student asked me about "chief" and "chef," and "wood" and "woods." Let me try to explain. chef: a professional cook (To make things more confusing, here the "ch" is pronounced "sh," as in "sheep.") Richard wants to be a chef, so he went to culinary arts school. chief: (Here the "ch" sounds like it does in "church," the more common sound.) 1. the leader of an Indian tribe (n.) Sitting Bull was a famous Indian chief in American history.