Beijing’s Olympics hospitality lost in translation

April 16, 2008

China ’s societal self-improvement in preparation for the 2008 Olympics continues. The Beijing Tourism Bureau ordered hotels to re-translate English signs, hoping to avoid such notorious past gaffes as “Racist Park,” which is now “Park of Ethnic Minorities,” and a cafe’s attempt to salute Western visitors with “Welcome, big nose friends.” And the Beijing Olympics Committee has been training hostesses for months to stand in military-like precision, straight enough to hold a sheet of paper between their knees, and to smile continuously, showing “six to eight teeth” (even if placing a chopstick in the mouth sideways is necessary for practice). There are height and weight requirements for the hostesses, and each must have an upper- to lower-body ratio of no more than 11-to-13, to eliminate, according to local newspapers, “big bottoms.” [Daily Telegraph (London), 3-20-08] [Daily Telegraph (London), 1-11-08]

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