Thursday, January 8, 2009

Wei Er Kang Mu

...You Mean "Welcome"?

Last month the shop owners of Lady Street or Nu Ren Jie (One of Beijing’s famous shopping area for clothes, shoes and also famous for its flower market -no ladies for sale!-) were given a pamphlet with 18 common English phrases, written in Chinese characters to sound like the expressions. Hence the “喂儿 康目” or “Wei Er Kang Mu” supposedly sounding like “Welcome”.

The pamphlet, handed out to shop owners earlier this week, is the latest move by the local authorities to promote English usage in the area to boost business during tough economic times - and made even more pressing with the opening of the new US embassy complex last month, vendors said.
Employees of the 700-odd shops in Lady Street will have to pass an exam on the English phrases in three months if they want to continue working in the area,.
There will also be an hour of English broadcasts on speakers in the market at 9 am every morning and oral English lessons for employees in the near future..

But it seems that customers were driven away by the efforts made by the shopkeepers. While some of them are optimistic about the latest campaign others worried about their future because they know few Chinese characters except their name, let alone English.

I can speak bad English really good