Engrish For Dummies

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Status: Finished  |  Genre: Humor  |  House: Booksie Classic
Why 'tootling' at your doberman is generally not a good idea...

Submitted: September 16, 2006

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Submitted: September 16, 2006



I happened to read an article last week titled "Help! I can't Speak Americanese", which I thought was a very appropriate piece in regards to how English is 'perceived' in European countries and in the United States.
It also reminded me of another interesting use of the English language.

A phenomenon called Engrish to be exact.

"Engrish" is the English used by some Asian countries, particularly Japan- for signage and advertisements of retail products and the like.

Having spent quite some time in the "Land of the Rising Sun", both my husband and I have often had a quiet chuckle over our respective encounters with "Engrish".
For one, Japanese have a tendency to use English as a 'fashion statement'. Clothes, handbags, even chopsticks can be seen covered in english words and phrases, which don't necessarily make any sense at all.

My first experience of this was when I had just arrived in the country. I was on a student exchange program and my host-mother (bless her heart) waved me off to school on my first day with a brand spanking new lunchbox. All students and working people have 'lunchboxes'- a quick trip to the corner shop for a pie and chips is relatively unheard of.
The lunch box itself was rather nice. Pale pink with little red "Kissie" lips patterned all over it. It was the slogan on the lid that had me rather dumbstruck.

"I have a BIG BOX! I like to use. Will you play with me?"

Ok, now, I realise that my fellow Japanese students would have thought this to be the epitome of cool as far as lunchbox trends go. I have a sneaking suspicion that were I to have proudly display my "BIG BOX" luncheon accessory to one of my Australian colleagues, I would probably have been given a swift kick to the shins (if it were a girl) or possibly a "Nudge, nudge, wink, wink, I'll meet on the lower oval after school" (from one of the boys.)

Other quaint little examples of this were:

On a pencil case:
"WET AND HAPPY NATURALLY! Ameo and his friends and famous posers. What could be more fun than a pose? It's more HIGH FINGERS all around!"

Whatever floats your boat there Ameo....

I also happened to notice a young girl on a train station wearing a delightful tee-shirt with the following emblazoned on the front:
"Yo-Yo! It's happy and fun. We can bounce together and play violent sports."

And whilst shopping around for new underwear, I was sorely tempted to purchase some briefs that sported cute pictures of panda bears and flowers.
It was only when I read the caption "Nobody Knows Where it is- That's a Dark and Lonely Place." on the crotch, that I decided to opt for Ye Olde sports pants instead.

Of course, I was terribly surprised that "Vogue" hadn't picked up on that one.

It's not only clothing and accessories that attract this interesting language.
Japanese have also found, that due to the high level of English-speaking visitors, it is best to always try and advertise their business through informative "Engrish" signage.

As seen outside a Japanese Restaurant:
"We reserve right to take away your curry."

And in a older Western-coffee house:
"Happy memories and kindness tea cups. I shall always talk of mother's old smells!"

I am sure "Mother" wouldn't have been all that impressed.

Engrish... It's everywhere!

Even on returning home from my time in Japan, (where I thought I had seen the last of such nonsensical grammar) "Engrish" had started to invade our own shores through Japanese imports.

The instructions for such simple appliances, sometimes meant even more confusion for the consumer.

On purchasing a new camera, my husband and I sat down, scratching our heads as we read through the first paragraph of the instructions booklet. It took a few hours, but we finally discovered that,
"Care must be exorcised when handring Toshiba Sisticum as it can sticked by dusts and hand-fat" loosely translated into "Keep your fingers off the lens".

My father too, had come across another priceless little gem when looking at the manual for my cousin?s new street scooter (manufactured this time in Taiwan.)
One of the first instructions was:

HORN-BUTTON- Tootle horn melodiously at dog who shall sport in roadway. If he continue, tootle him with vigour..

To test this theory, my cousin proceeded to "tootle" at his rottweiller with much "vigour" indeed, and it was lucky for him that he had just renewed his health insurance.

I know that English is an extremely difficult and complex language to learn, especially to those who are learning it as a second language. However, I don't think I would have survived all of the other aspects of Japanese life without the odd belly laugh over what I read and experienced.

The last straw for me, was being told of a sign hung in the Maternity Ward in a hospital somewhere in Kyoto, listing advice for expectant mothers who checked in.

1) Strain yourself or push at the time of the contraction and two hours later a baby will appear.
2) A swell will be checked if there is, by pushing shin.
3) If your weight gains rapidly, it is a sign of swell fatness
4) If you pick up around your nipple come out 1cm high and it'll be alright
5) You'd better begin your sexual intercourse after the delivery after the one-mouth check up with a doctor
6) If you want to do a vowel movement don't stop
7) After you vomit, you rinse your mouse, and if you can eat, eat.
8) Brasure can be for maternity one or nursing bra, so that your breast won't feel oppressed.
9) There are many differences of ideas in family but she felt family bondage after delivery as a wife.

Well,if I thought my biological clock had lost a spring or a cog somewhere along the line, the thought of my breast being oppressed followed by family bondage confirmed that theory.


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