Tag Archives: 2014

Standardised English - Ji'nan West

Railway English Goals for 2014

Despite my increased presence outside of Beijing this year, as a plan to explore this weird, at times wild, but always wonderful world of ours, I’m still involved in improving railway English for China’s railway system for 2014, and I’ll keep my “non-rail” identity (as in: not working as an official member of rail staff), as I’ve done so in 2013 and in initial efforts back in 2012.

I have to say that China’s railway system has remained mixed with regards to the English enhancement programme. On the one hand, I suspect those who drafted out earlier versions certainly aren’t pleased at their “hard work” being wiped out by a non-PRC citizen interested in pro bono enhancements to society, and the dispute over “Should we call Qingdao’s new station “Qingdaobei” or Qingdao North?” is still at times unsettled. On the other hand, though, we are seeing much improved English at an increasing number of stations around China — customers are now told to “please allow passengers more space” at ticket officers, and riders are being told at Ji’nan’s west station that “international passengers must book at manned counters” (instead of previously no English at all; although even here I suspect the English can still be improved further).

For 2014, these are my goals, which are slightly less on “new features” and more on “maintenance and sustainability”:—

  • Improve English according to fixed standards as approved by the newly-formed independent, multinational board of language experts.
  • Based on China Railways’s unique international ridership, adopt UK English (no longer US English), as UK English is seen much more in multilingual environments, especially in Europe.
  • Create an Internet-based “English on demand” system, and begin work on eventually creating a password-protected database containing the whole English / Chinese rail dictionary / phrasebook.
  • Continue the Everyday Rail English Branding System: keep the Everyday Rail English and Bilingual Rail Info presentation forms (optimise font use where needed), and in doing so, make the railway trains come closer to city metro trains by providing more transfer and city transit-related content.
  • Maintain an open, expansion-based system so that any developments or changes in the national railways system (eg: the implementation of a new ticketing policy) can immediately be reflected, and the necessary English be generated.
  • Eventually down the line — prepare a book of sorts, so that people can have something they can actually put their finger on to improve English. Furthermore, create audiovisual or audio-only content — merely text-based content won’t help all that much!

The idea behind this is: once the whole system is set up, at least for the immediate-short term, it really doesn’t matter where I’m based: everything’s Internet-based, so it doesn’t matter as much if I’m in Beijing, Bristol, or Boston.

Ente gut, alles gut…?

The word ente has two meanings (as far as I know — and hey, I don’t know all the languages in the world!):—

  • In German: A duck
  • In Italian: Either a corporation, or being

and I’d like to use the Italian version of the word ente whilst keeping it in a German phrase. So instead of it meaning A good duck makes everyone happy (a rather cheeky slogan in an ad for toilet cleaner — the classic Toilet Duck), I’d like to completely remix it and give it “new meaning”: Feeling good makes everyone happy.

Don’t you hate it when decalinguals drive you up the wall?

The year 2013 is drawing to a close. Whilst happy for what has been a moderate year, I’m willing to take things to the next level in the forthcoming year. For once I am announcing that I will no longer be spending the entire year — that is, over 80% — in Beijing.

I am looking “back to Europe” for a first destination outside of Asia. It is true that Beijing’s Subway system is longer and more modern than London’s variant. It’s no secret that Swiss trains run about 50% slower than their Chinese counterpart. But after nearly 15 years on the ground in Beijing, it’s probably time to take a trip — at least a comparatively longer one (30+ days or so) — into a foreign land. The last time I left home for over 30 days was in 1999. I used to live in Zürich, so heading to Beijing was heading “out” of my (Swiss) home.

Most people have less-than-positive views about the United States. I’m not one of these — although prefer when sitting at the Starbucks that the guy next to me didn’t have something “unharmonious”. So far I’ve been to only 4 US states (NY, VA — for Dulles Int’l Airport, and FL as well as CA) and the District of Columbia. That’s nothing. Somewhere down the line, I’d like to give North America a bit more attention. If anything, I’d like to do Wyoming, if it was only to be in a state which was completely square. (To a Swiss / Chinese, where no canton / province is 100% square, that must be a “new” experience.) And probably Route 66 as well. Or Amtrak across the country…

I admit there are a few destinations on the “wrong” side of the world I am missing: South Africa, Brazil, Argentina, and New Zealand. I need these, and I also need a trek with Train K3 via Ulaanbaatar straight to Moscow. I should also probably test drive Train T5 to Hanoi, if only to travel in China’s only long-distance international service with the national emblem over a train in blue (others have the emblem over a train in green).

The other day, I did a pretty scary calculation of my total mileage: over a million kilometres, and just a bit short of a million miles. I’m thinking of both converting these into media / information platform shows (blogs included) and adding more to the meter. It’s about a trip-and-a-half to the moon and back. I’m still in my early 30s. I need more miles.

In China, there’s a saying: you need to read both thousands of books and have travelled thousands of miles. I’ve done the latter. 2014 might also be the time when I do a bit more of the former…

The new year, no matter how it starts or where I might start 2015, will be one I’m going to get pretty excited about. Stay tuned…