The article “China bans English words in media” from the BBC reminded me of an issue I have with foreign and translated words in the printed form. China is insisting all words printed by the sate media be in Chinese and that foreign words need an explanation. I think the desire to curb “Chinglish” (misused English) is a good thing. “Chinglish” is really nonsense English. I do not read the Chinese state media, so I do not have an example of the ratio of Chinese words to English words in print. But, it is an opportunity for me to discuss the need to expose people to the original language of transliterated words.
I would prefer that when foreign terms are used in translation, the original term (written in the native language) is presented as well. This comes from my own annoyance of guessing the corresponding Chinese characters when I come across romanized Chinese. When I read Chinese, there are times when English words are phonetically translated into Chinese characters. Then I spend some time sounding out a sequence characters to come up with the English word. The English word is often a proper noun, which can be even more confusing to decipher. I would prefer to have the word written in the transliteration (to preserve the flow of writing) and then the original word in the native language in parenthesis. Personally, it is really interesting to me to be able to see different scripts of the world. I may not be able to read the original language, but I can appreciate the original script and possibly identify the word later.
I think printing in multiple languages is also a good way to promote world literacy. People can be very ignorant of cultures and languages that are not their own. I have heard people say that Chinese, Japanese, and Korean characters “all look the same.” Some people cannot distinguish between Spanish, Italian, and French. Perhaps the more foreign words are used, the more people will start to understand international languages and cultures. We are a global society and need to be sensitive and aware of other languages and cultures. I agree that English has become an international language, but perhaps we have become too reliant on one language.