Please note: The full name of book is A Handbook of Everyday English (北京市民日常英语宝典).
English has had an increasingly important role to play in particularly urban China. Government policies making it easier for Chinese to travel was just a start. The “Chinsumer” — Chinese consumer — can be seen everywhere these days: for the suspect tuhao (nouveau riche), outside many an LVMH shop — but for everyone else, in front of monuments and tourist traps — Tower Bridge, the Statue of Liberty, Sydney Opera House, or even Manneken Pis.
At the same time, an increasing number of international travellers are coming to the world inside the Great Wall. Favourable policies for transiting tourists permitting passport holders from most of the developed world to transfer through Beijing, Shanghai, and other cities without needing a visa, are not being ignored. The problems arise when Chinese go overseas, armed with little knowledge of English — or when they have to try helping expats in town who themselves speak virtually no Chinese.
After my 2011 book, Jiong Chinglish, I was quickly “spotted” by key academics in the field and recommended to city radio, where for 2013 I had my own radio show co-hosted with a local. My commitment to improving English in China made me a natural part of the book and its editing committee.
In late 2013, I managed to translate the entire book, followed by submission to a panel of experts, and we met regularly to suggest how to improve the final version. In 2014, I also took part in providing video and audio for the book, as well as promoting it to the general public.
The book is made out of two parts — the Beijing part mainly contains English to be used to help incoming tourists in Beijing, whilst the “Going Abroad” part caters to Chinese heading overseas. The book uses “non-Chinglish English”, which has been translated and optimised not only by me, but by a panel of experts, including foreign ministry translators, professors, and other specialists.
The book is far more frequently handed out as a gift to residents than sold, although it is also available via this channel.
Foreign Languages Press, Beijing, China, April 2014