It's easy to make fun of the Engrish phenomenon, but the rest of the world
is just as guilty of doing terrible things to those exotic oriental characters.
Sunday, October 25, 2009 11:56 AM
I'm not sure if the lettering this t-shirt, which I saw in Hereford in the UK a few years ago and which I just rediscovered while looking for a completely different image, is meant to mean anything, but if it is the nearest word which would make any kind of sense would be プライスレス (puraisuresu), i.e. priceless. If that is the case the shirt (or sweater, or whatever it is) is missing the trailing ス (su).
(Yes, those are my hands you can see reflected in the picture).
Tuesday, February 5, 2008 6:48 AM
The other day I was waddling my penguiny way along the major
shopping street not far from Penguin HQ when something caught my beady
penguiny eye. To be precise, some sort of Chinese characters adorning
the door of a trendy-looking coffee purveyor. "Gambatta na", I thought, "but there's something there that looks not quite right".
Stopping to have a better squint at it, it became clear that the middle character is missing a line. It should look like this:
My apologies if this sounds terribly pedantic, but it's visually annoying as for example "Opun"
in the same context would be. And more over - and I am writing this
from behind the smug, all-knowing safety afforded to me by some
official bits of paper in the language - what it actually says is "eigyôchû", which does mean "open",
but in the sense of "currently open for business", which it most
clearly was not, it being well past 8pm when I took the photo. For the
record, "営業時間" - eigyô jikan, "opening hours" - would probably be the more appropriate word to write here.
of the story: if you want to decorate your business with exotic
oriental characters, a) take care to copy them correctly; and b) when
getting someone to write them down for you (I'm guessing this is what
happened here), make sure they get the correct context for the
translation. (If I have a chance I'll go in and mention it to them next time I'm passing by).
Friday, February 1, 2008 10:28 AM
Quite a few years ago I came across this dictionary on sale in a remaindered book shop in the UK:
it was going for a song, and I had vague ambitions of becoming a
Japanese-English translator, I didn't hesitate to snap it up, and while
I never pursued that particular career, it has come in handy on
occasion. It's also quite unusual as it's one of the very few bilingual
Japanese dictionaries which hasn't been produced in Japan.
Thursday, January 31, 2008 5:32 PM
written in a script not native to your own country is, by definition,
exotic. Of course, in Japan "exotic" linguistic decorations are taken to extreme lengths, but we here in the rômaji-dominated
world are also not always immune to the temptations of strange, foreign
scripts. Such as with this fashionable laptop bag I spied the other day
in an electronics store in Berlin, which proudly bears the name "トウシバ"
("tôshiba", written in the katakana script).
What's wrong with
that, you might ask? Well, nothing really - it's spelt correctly, no
embarrassing errors. However, in Japan the company of the same name is
written either in rômaji ("Toshiba"), or the actual kanji
("東芝") - you'll probably never see トウシバ in normal usage. Also, the font used here would
probably have any corporate designer tearing their hair out - to my
(design layperson) eyes it looks rather old-fashioned and is somehow
The odd thing is, according to the label on the bag, it's actually licensed by Toshiba.
Wednesday, January 2, 2008 7:59 AM
They're made of rice and covered in a thin layer of chocolate: what better name than "Nippon" for
these German-made wafer-type biscuits available in various shapes and sizes from
a company called Hosta?
Sunday, December 23, 2007 12:18 AM
(This is the first of an occasional series of posts on stuff found outside of Japan which
uses the image of Japan or the Japanese language in strange and / or mysterious ways.
Sort of like Engrish in reverse.)
Right now I'm visiting my parents in the UK, and as they live deep in the inaka
they are engaged in semi-permanent conflict with large sections of the flora and particularly
the fauna. Mice are a particular problem, and what else would the discerning householder
use to control the domestic rodent population other than "NIPPON Mouse Killer Pellets"?