Very insightful post on Matt Schiavenza’s blog, entitled, Why Chinglish Exists. [link no longer exists].
Post starts out with a great story on the Great Communicator (Ronald Reagan) and then explains the marketing benefits of using English, no matter how mangled:
In mainland China, having English advertisements represents modernity, internationalism, and sophistication. Most Chinese people wouldn’t realize that the actual words were nonsensical, as most don’t read English. Besides, their eyes would immediately go to the (properly written) Chinese text first. Just having the words there is what matters, not what the words actually say.
In addition to appealing to Chinese consumers, when I am in a foreign country (not just China), I am more likely to go into a restaurant or store if there is some English somewhere. I figure that no matter how bad the English, the effort means they probably want English speaking customers and there is a greater chance someone inside speaks at least some English.
Now I just have to convince a Korean friend of mine who works for massive Korean chaebol and who goes absolutely nuts whenever I comment on some Kanglish malapropism (is that redundant?) in one of the company’s otherwise highly professional e-newsletters that it is the appearance that counts, not the content.