Sunday, October 29, 2006

Adventures in Chinglish: Volume I

Cleverly marketed cultural misunderstandings are really great. Like the storefront in Japan a friend of mine told me about that had Santa Claus hanging on the cross during Christmas season. While these misunderstandings really are a delight to witness, I fear they are becoming less and less common as they once were, due to the saturation of Western culture throughout the world. However, what is still rampant, and almost as funny, is the gratuitously inaccurate use of the English language*.

One of my favorite hobbies here is sign hunting. I'll just take a walk around the city and try to find the most hilarious misspelling or nonsensical English phrase on signs, products, or advertisements I can find. I've included some examples of the ones that came to my mind at the moment or I had pictures of, but the best ones are yet to come.

A sign at one particularly delectible ice cream shop reads, "Fresh Sheam" and "Home Make Ice Cream". Mmm...just thinking about it makes me want two extra large scoops of some fresh, homemake sheam. Maybe someone wanted to say "Shaving Cream", but said it too fast.

I bought a notebook yesterday that was too good to pass up. Each had a motivational, philosophical phrase in English on the front. I purchased my favorite, which reads:

"To everyone, he has an option in the direction of struggle."

This almost sounds deep. I actually double-checked it on Google just to make sure that this isn't a famous quote that I'm supposed to know.

I'll be the first to admit that my vocabulary is lacking, but I really was surprised to find out that 'Leisureliness' is a word.


I found this book in a bookstore here and grabbed a quick shot of it before the security guard gave me another nasty look. (Sorry for the glare).


Did the publishers of this book really think no one would notice that this is not in fact a picture of Peter Pan, as the title would have you believe, but of Star Wars Episode I? I'm cursing myself for being too cheap to buy it.

This is a tourist map hanging in a travel agency in town:


Choosing my favorite here is tough. "Jade Bamboo Shoot World" is pretty great, and "Nine Horse in the house" reminds me of a board game like "Hungry, Hungry Hippos", but the mental picture that "Camel flow love in the river" creates is just too colorful to not be my favorite. I really must visit this place.

This really is just the tip of the iceberg. I'll be sure to put some of the really good ones up soon.


*I'm fully aware that this goes both ways, and as Americans we're certainly not one to talk. As we speak, some clueless American girl is getting what she believes is the Chinese character for "Love" tattooed on her arm, until the waiter at the Chinese restaurant informs her that it really says, "Mustache".

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