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Public invited to report incorrect English signs

Martin Li

SHENZHEN’S foreign affairs office launched a special program called Campaign E on Thursday to invite the public to look for English mistakes on the city’s bilingual public signs and provide corrections.

The campaign will last for two months. People can take pictures of incorrect English usage or grammar on public signs and email them to People also can send pictures through Weibo and WeChat. The Weibo account is @深圳E行动 and the WeChat account is 深圳E行动.

People sending pictures are asked to provide the time of the photo, location of the sign and details about mistakes, along with their name and contact information.

People also can report mistakes by calling 8317-5462 between 9 a.m. and 5 p.m. Monday to Friday.

The foreign affairs office will organize experts to examine submitted corrections.

“People will be awarded based on how many correct submissions they send,” Huang Zhijun, director of the office’s international language environment department, said at a press conference Thursday.

The awards will include certificates, English study books and free English training classes, Huang said.

The 10 people who send the most correct submissions will be invited to attend a Nov. 18 seminar on Shenzhen’s drive to become an international city. Li Zhaoxing, former Chinese foreign minister, is scheduled to speak at the event.

Organizations that are actively involved in the campaign also will be awarded.

The foreign affairs office has also released the city’s first regulations regarding the use and management of English translations on public signs.

Bilingual public signs now must be made available in locations including parks, public squares, cultural and sports facilities, and resorts. The city’s main roads, train stations, airport and Metro stations also have to provide bilingual public signs, according to the regulations.

“In order to eliminate incorrect English signs at the source, we will examine all new bilingual signs before they appear in public,” said Tang Lixia, head of the foreign affairs office.

Tang added that the office will organize experts to review existing bilingual public signs on a regular basis.

“Correct English public signs are necessary to Shenzhen’s ongoing drive to become an international city. Shenzhen has a permanent foreign population of more than 20,000. Each year sees 7.8 million trips made by foreigners to Shenzhen,” Tang said. “Although English public signs are available at the city’s major public locations and on its main roads, some incorrect English public signs have caused inconvenience to expats working and living in Shenzhen.”

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