Why does Engrish have such a fascination for us native speakers? Personally I find it a huge source of amusement that in Japan - a nation ostensibly obsessed with learning English - that there's so much "English" visible which is not only wrong, but often hilariously so.

This isn't poking fun at other people's speaking abilities - no doubt I make enough howlers in other languages myself - but at the sheer flood of weird words which wash over you in Japan.

(For a view of the world of linguistic cockups from the other side of the divide, see the Orientalish section)

Friday, September 4, 2009  11:55 AM

You don't have to be mad to relieve yourself here...

... but if you are, don't worry: Sanity Soap is provided for all your mental health needs.


(Seen in the gentlemen's facilities in a rather grotty izakaya near Shinagawa)

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Friday, August 28, 2009   3:17 AM

Merkin Manufacture?

Muff Hair Make, Tokyo, Japan

You didn't think it grew naturally like that, did you?

Check out their website for more details: http://muff-web.com/hairmake/

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Monday, April 6, 2009   4:22 AM

Machine Translation: Not Up To It Yet

It looks like Tesco is not the only global concern based in an English-speaking nation which can't list excellence in its native language amongst its core competencies.

Sign in McDonalds near Bunkamura, Shibuya, Tokyo

Still, at least it's fairly easy to work out what the original Japanese version said. 

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Friday, March 20, 2009   9:27 PM

Supremacist Can

It's important to have a life vision, and when it comes to garbage receptacles that's one thing you don't want to be expressing witty remarks about.

A supreme can, black

Let's also be clear that yes we can resist the temptation to attempt to make some clever comments about the colour of the said receptacle.

In unrelated news, I have been fiddling with the awesome software which powers this blog and by adding the facility to remember the name, URL etc. entered on the comment forms, I have dragged it kicking and screaming into the latter half of the first decade of the 20th century. May your comment posting be herewith marginally less cumbersome.

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Sunday, March 15, 2009   7:58 AM

What the L?

On my monthly muesli run to Donki earlier today[*], I tried out a new route and was suprised to come across a branch of Tesco much closer to home than I was previously aware of. Fully expecting to be disappointed, I nevertheless went in to have a look around on the off-chance they were having a Pork Pie Matsuri or something, and I was as disappointed as I had expected to be. At least as far as the inventory went.

Now, differentiating between "L" and "R" is a perennial problem in these parts and if I had a yen for every such mistake I see, I'd be able to launch my own personal stimulus package.

However, I would expect that a nominally British operation would be able to correctly label the section of cold cabinets containing products made from the stuff squeezed out of cow tits.

Daily Dairy at Tesco in Tokyo, Japan

[*] Apologies if that sentence part doesn't make sense to you, try living in Japan to know what I'm wittering on about

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Monday, January 19, 2009   8:58 PM

Heartless Ridicule

Dear Shinohara Rikuun,

Congratulations - not only have you plastered a non-existent English word on the side of your truck, you have also spelt it incorrectly. Presumably because you couldn't find it in a dictionary. It's certainly in none of mine.

Heartfull Communication

I know it says on your website "限りない挑戦" ("Challenge without limits"), but sometimes you just gotta bow to the inevitable and find many happiness in your daily life without overstretching your linguistic resources.

Admittedly you will find the word on Google, but the first entry is from the mindbogglingly authoritative Urban Dictionary, and of the nine other entries on the first page, five are somehow Japan-related and of the others, two represent touchy-feely arty-farty type websites. Hardly a sign of a word in common circulation in the English-speaking world, I submit.

Actually, let's see what happens if we enter the word into the Heartful Dictionary, the number two result in Google provided by that hotbed of linguistic research, the Toyohashi University of Technology:

Heartful Dictionary

Well, as they say around here, "the twitterings of a lark catching my ear with pleasant sound".

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Sunday, December 7, 2008   8:58 AM

No Country for Old Men

...but if you're an old lady, Japan's ever-innovative entrepreneurs will welcome your silver yen with open arms.

The latest fashionable destination for ladies of a certain age ("well past 60 and very wrinkly") is Tamachi's Granpark Tower, an office/retail development packed to the brim with the hottest geriatric goods and surprisingly innovative services for seniors.

Granpark Tamachi

The modern granny is tech-savvy and, like all old people not needing as much sleep as when she was younger, will be happy to find the Gran Cyber Cafe catering to her cybering needs no matter what time of day or night it is.

Gran Cyber Cafe

But if Gran's fancies aren't tickled by "Internet & Comic", she can zimmerframe on over to Aomono Yokocho, where she can have her pachinko slot desires fulfilled at Gran Port.

Gran Port Pachinko Slot

Meanwhile Christmas is coming up fast, and what Gran wouldn't want to enjoy a session of Christmas Fantasy? Santa's little helpers will be extra-busy when the baa-san[*] brigade rolls in, that's for sure!

Gran Christmas Fantasy

[*] Japanese vernacular for "old lady"

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Wednesday, November 19, 2008   4:00 PM

World Nuts...

World Nuts

...For Your Relax Time.

Indeed, when the planet is going to hell in a handbasket, there's nothing better than a packet of mixed nuts and possibly something cheap, nasty and alchoholic from the nearest discount convenience store.

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