Lost In The Translation

li CBS

By the millions, the Chinese want America's lifestyle. Now they also want its language.

So Li Yang is an English teacher with a very big dream.

"My dream is to make 300 million Chinese people speak good English," he told CBS' Barry Petersen.

And good English is very much on the Chinese government's agenda as it promotes the Olympics in 2008. Everyone from cab drivers to cops is learning how to talk more like Americans.

More and more English signs are popping up around Beijing -- it's been very helpful to foreigners, says Petersen.

The Chinese are working hard at their new language and often get it right on the mark: one sign says "flower shop" in perfect English. But walk next door to the Golden Dream restaurant and despite how hard they're trying, you can see how far they still have to go. A stroll down the menu turns up delicacies with names like "fried pignut" and something called "toffee wire drawing Murphy."

The chef knows what's in his dishes, but would diners know what was in his "8 kind material en casserole?"

They often get it so close. The snack aisle in one grocery store is labeled "tit dits." They really meant "tid bits."

And at the movies it's "The Three Musketeers" but on the DVD cover it's the "Shree Musketeens."

As for Li Yang, his is the voice of change coming to China.

"It is never too late to learn," he said.

And while everyone is learning, how about having some of that "stir fry swamp cabbage?"
  • Bootie Cosgrove-Mather

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