English 中文网 漫画网 爱新闻iNews 翻译论坛
当前位置: Language Tips> 译通四海> 翻译服务

Red tape

[ 2009-06-25 17:32]     字号 [] [] []  
免费订阅30天China Daily双语新闻手机报:移动用户编辑短信CD至106580009009

The other week we were asked for a clearer understanding of the phrase red tape.

First we need to appreciate that this phrase is not used in a kind or complimentary way and the image or emotion attached to it is of something annoying or bothersome.

Just imagine you are from the countryside or a second tier city and you’ve just moved to Beijing. Now you want to get a drivers license but when you go to apply you are told you need to have a hukou.

Then when you decide you want to go get a hukou the office there tells you that you need to go get something else such as proof of residence or proof that you have graduated from a Beijing university etc.

Now these are two simple examples of running into what is called red tape.

Essentially it refers to regulation or rigid conformity to a set of rules that is often thought to be time wasting or bureaucratic.

At present amid the global financial crisis, in a context of tightening budgets and more attention to cost efficiency and resource maximization, many economies and organizations are trying to limit the amount of red tape.

Greater transparency with procedures towards registration and licensing, the move towards more digitized information management systems that are online and less opaque and the online publishing of public/private bursaries and decision making are all examples of the evolution towards a less red tape ridden society.

Linguistically where you will come across or be able to use the phrase red tape would be when you have to fill out what may feel like unnecessary paperwork, or when you need to get an assortment of people to approve a decision,

e.g., “Oh my God, I can’t believe the amount of red tape I just had to go through to try and get a business license. First I needed this, then I needed that, then I needed to pay him, then I needed her stamp, then I had to go to this office, then I had to wait over a month for an approval letter, then I had to go back to the original office and once I finally got my license I discovered someone else in the meantime had stolen my idea and already opened up a shop offering my service and product.”

Related stories:

Deferred Happiness Syndrome

Get one’s ass in gear

Take the high road

A feeling for a "soft touch"


Toxic assets 有毒资产

Pet project






About the author:

Red tape

About the author: Brendan has taught at universities, high schools and primary schools in Japan,the UK, Australia and China. He is a Qualified Education Agent Counsellor and has extensive experience with International English Language Examinations. In the field of writing Brendan has been published in The Bangkok Post, The Taipei Times, Inflight magazines and the Asia News Network. He can be contacted at brendanjohnworrell@hotmail.com.