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Language, please: Retailers scrutinized over advertising
2007-09-26 02:09:29 Shanghai Daily

A language-inspection officer examines the signboard of a foreign brand during yesterday's check at Plaza 66 shopping center on Nanjing Road W.

SHANGHAI, Sept. 26 -- CITY language-works officials yesterday swooped on major commercial streets to pinpoint foreign-language-only advertisements and signboards.

The practice is outlawed under city language-works regulations.

Although most stores had signboards with their brands' Chinese translation, inspectors said that long-term management legislation is still needed.

Jointly initiated by the Shanghai Language Works Committee, the Shanghai People's Congress and urban management officials, the inspection started from 9:30am at the Nanjing Road Pedestrian Mall and extended to Nanjing Road W. in the afternoon.

The city's language-works regulations, which went into effect last March, ruled that all companies, stores and entertainment venues should add Chinese characters in their ads, notices and signboards.

"Brand names and signboards without Chinese translation will make it difficult for locals to recognize and pronounce the brand name," said Zhang Ripei, a language-works committee official. "It also hampers the city's effort to promote standard Chinese language."

Business and public facilities with foreign-language-only signs will be ordered to fix the problem immediately, officials said.

At the Plaza 66 on Nanjing Road W., most of the international-brand outlets had signboards with the brand's Chinese name and country - either well-made bronze boards or small temporary paper ones - in their display windows or on the counter.

For instance, French fashion brand Louis Vuitton had set up a small and transparent plastic board, which bears its four-character Chinese name, at the foot of its outlet gate.

Hang Lung Properties, the plaza's developer, also revamped the signboards in April to include all its office building tenants' names in simplified Chinese.

Translated boards are still absent at some brands, such as Japanese shoe maker Pura Bianca in Westgate Mall on Nanjing Road W.

Officials said that they will try to persuade the brands make up signboards as soon as possible. But it's hard for them as no penalty items were stated in the regulation.

"We are trying to make the situation in a controllable state, mainly by intensifying routine spot checks," Zhang said.

Feng Maolun, a member of the city's top advisory body and one of yesterday's inspectors, said that it would be easy for companies to put up temporary boards for inspection and remove them afterwards.

"What's most important is to have a mandatory legislative item to order that all foreign brands have a Chinese name before they can complete industrial and commercial administrative registration in China," Feng said.

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