How to avoid Chinglish

Words and phrases not used today by native English speakers: ( or how to avoid “Chinglish) in your speech and writing.

1. pity—old fashioned. Today we say” that’s too bad,” or “sorry to hear that”

2. harmonious – old fashioned. We say peaceful, get along well, agreeable, friendly
    Harmonious is best used when referring to music.

3. barbeque is not plural (barbeques).   a. A barbeque (N) is a party where food is grilled along with other dishes being served.
    b. barbeque (N) is the food eated at a barbeque…mostly meat—especially beef or pork or
    chicken.   c. to barbeque (V) is to cook on a grill—a kind of cooking technique

4. Frankly speaking or to be honest should not be used in writing. It is not used much at all in speaking either (though to be honest is
    used more). These words are unnecessary and clutter both speaking and writing.   Say what you mean. “I think the book is a waste
    of time to read. “ NOT “To be honest” or “frankly speaking” the book is …”

5. Attractive—refers to people not to objects like buildings or to lifestyles. Possible food dishes when served look “attractive” but we
    would say “the dish looks appetizing” or the dish looks delicious.

6. Naughty—babies are often referred to by non native speakers as naughty. But what is really meant is they are curious, energetic, lively;
  — naughtiness implies an intent to do bad.  Babies (at least those younger than 2 or three) don’t have a concept of good or bad they are interested in everything around them and want to explore, taste, touch and see in order to learn.
    Native speakers might say, “The baby is curious about everything and tries to put everything in her mouth.”

7. ”I will try my best” is a cliché –tired, boring and overused language – say instead, “I will work hard” or “I will do my best”
    (it is understood and taken for granted that if you do your best you have tried your best)

8. My “former life” assumes you have died and have now been “reborn” and are living a new life…former is something that no longer
    is—my former boyfriend or girlfriend. What you mean here is perhaps “in my younger years” or “when I was a little child” or
    “prior to coming to the university…”

***Also It is always “the university” “the hospital

9. colorful—this is a vague adjective and is meaningless. It is a tired and overused adjective—discard it from your vocabulary (unless
   you are talking about your box of crayons or a painting that had lots of color in it)!

10. clever—when saying “he is a clever boy”—that is often now interpreted negatively…a clever person is often one who is considered
    wily, shrewd, cunning or crafty and these words are viewed today as describing a  person who uses any and all means necessary to get ahead     even lying, cheating and stealing. It is an old, overused adjective. I say discard it as well!

11. Use of articles. – countable nouns use articles: the university, the hospital, the boy; NOT the life (there is only one); however,
“lives” is countable i.e. “the lives of thousands were endangered” . This is tricky and confusing even for we native speaking teachers
of language!

Summing up: Avoid verbal clutter and old tired clichés. How can you do this? Read the most recent English language books translated by native translators that you can. Read The China Daily (a countable noun!) or The Beijing Times (also
countable and on newsstands everywhere! and in your library!)


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