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Beijing 'standardizes' Chinese food names ahead of Olympics Dec. 25. 2006

"Would you prefer scrambled egg with tomato or egg plant with garlic sauce?"

Foreign visitors who are used to certain kinds of Chinese food in their home country will be able to order their favorite dishes in English when they come to Beijing for the Olympic Games in 2008.

By the end of January 2007, "all the dishes and drinks served at the city's restaurants will have standardized English names," according to the Beijing Speaks Foreign Languages Program, a government-sponsored organization to promote English among Beijing residents.

The organization said it has finished translating over 1,000 dishes and drinks so far and the English names will be put on their official website (, including 66 varieties of beef and 83 varieties of pork.

The organization said it hoped the move would help reduce confusion and misunderstandings caused by the very approximate English names that used to appear on city menus.

"We welcome public participation and suggestions," the organization says on its web page.

For a successful Olympic Games and for a good international image, Beijing is also making other efforts to standardize its English in public.

The non-governmental Beijing Speaks to the World Committee is hard at work identifying mistranslations in the capital and has compiled a set of standards on translation for public signs.

English speakers in Beijing have in the past been invited to visit "Racist Park" -- more accurately translated as the Park of Ethnic Minorities -- and warned to take care on wet roads as "the slippery are very crafty".

The Beijing Municipal Tourism Bureau is also requiring the city's 4,000 unrated hotels to translate their names, service hours, room rates, menus and notices for guests into accurate English in order to offer accommodation to visitors for the Games.


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