Shanghai Daily tells us that all businesses in Xintiandi and along Huaihai Road, “especially foreign-brand stores”, must add Chinese names to their signs and must do so before this Sunday.
According to Yang Jishi, of the Economic Commission in Luwan District:
This is part of a long-term project to crack down on foreign-language-only signs, which not only are a barrier to understanding for most Chinese, but also violate the law on language
Hmm. What law, we ask? Shanghai Daily elucidates:
According to the China’s Law on the Standard Spoken and Written Chinese Language, the service sector must offer simplified Chinese characters when using foreign languages, or traditional Chinese in shop front signs, advertisements and notifications.
The paper’s investigative journalists made a trip to Xintiandi and found that “all the stores, bars, restaurants and entertainment venues” had already duly complied. Wow.
But some visitors are still not happy it seems. Wang Haiyun, a nearby resident, complains:
The plates are not easy to see and some are sheltered by the store’s decorations, so every time I meet my friends here I can’t tell which store I’m standing outside.
We all just know where this is heading, don’t we? They probably will soon start mandating that foreign language signs must be no bigger than Chinese language signs. Yes, state language regulators are not uncommon – France has it, Lithuania has it, and hell, even the Maoris have it (In fact, just about everyone has it). We’re not demanding for any “foreign enclaves” in Shanghai, but, really, if everything were mandated like this and residents like Wang Haiyun have their way, we think Xintiandi would start to look like a very awkward Chinatown, right in the heart of Shanghai.
And oh, looks like it’s time for Xintiandi to change their “foreign-language only” signs like the one pictured above. We wonder how much it will cost them this time!
Image from huchris.