So far as I can tell, Chinglish falls into two categories: instrumental and ornamental. Instrumental Chinglish is actually intended to convey information to English speakers. Ornamental Chinglish is born of the fact that English is the lingua franca of coolness. Meaning aside, any combination of roman letters elevates a commodity--khaki pants, toilet paper, potato chips--to a higher plane of
chic by suggesting that the product is geared toward an international audience.
This is also a pop-cultural phenomenon in the Former Soviet Union, albeit on a much lower level of frequency. It typically involves nonsense phrases in English emblazoned on articles of
clothing, intended to convey an air of youthfulness and joie de vivre.
Such usages often aim for a certain effect, not so much of transgressiveness as of chic, though the means often veer off into the transgressive:
In Hong Kong I once saw a teenage girl wearing a red baby-doll T-shirt emblazoned with rhinestone lettering that read: "mom, i'm a lesbian." In wearing this T-shirt, the young lady probably did not intend to announce her homosexuality to her mother--or to the world, for that matter. The English on her shirt served a decorative function; the letters were intended to convey no more meaning than paisley or houndstooth.
Instrumental Chinglish can be more amusing still:
Recognizing that a good chunk of those who pass through People's Park may not speak Chinese, the Shanghai Municipality on Administration of Public Parks has thoughtfully provided the following English signage:
"Intrudaction Park People's Park built in 1952 Beginning re built on 2000FEB. And opening on July 1. Thearea of the part is 10million/mIt is keep old Haiting Park. Characteristic. It has new Yulan park.Health park and Founcain. and so on.
" . . public meeting or fund-raising Of any nature is inexpedient, activities of a feudalistic and superstitious nature . . . are not allowed
Visitors are not supposed to tease, scare, or capture bird, cricket, fish and shrimp or cicada (exceptthose for community purposes).
Ethic and moral codes should be duly honored, visitors are expected not to urinate or (defecate) . . ."
The salient point is not so much the information as the fact that it is being conveyed in English. I have to imagine that similar guides have been produced for 'Japanglish', which can afford similar delights. In any event, Chinglish may well prove to be an artifact of Chinese cultural history, inasmuch as the Chinese regime is determined to eradicate such malapropisms in advance of the Olympics. A sense of national pride is at stake.
Recommended companion volume: Bushisms.
PS: I should like to read John Derbyshire's thoughts on the phenomenon, which I'd imagine to be entertaining and illuminating.