Engrish

“Do honky” command Japanese TV show’s T-shirts

Once a year, Japan’s Fuji TV broadcasts a marathon program called FNS 27-Hour TV. A huge team of A-list comedians, musicians, and media personalities make appearances during the show, and since its beginning in 1997 it’s been a ratings hit for the network.

But as the younger generation increasingly looks to the Internet for entertainment content, this year Fuji TV wanted to remind viewers that TV is still relevant and worth watching. Oh, and also apparently that they should sleep with white people, if you take the program’s T-shirts at face value.

Read More

This squirrel is sub-par! More nonsense Japanese hits the fashion market

It’s already a well-known fact that terrible, nonsensical English (or Engrish, as the phenomenon is known) is found everywhere in Japan. For the most part, Engrish happens because many people just like the look that English print gives to their outfit and accessories, and really don’t give a second thought as to what it means.

But those from western countries are really not much better, choosing clothes or tattoos with kanji characters simply because they look cool, without really giving thought to what the characters themselves might mean. This unfortunately ends with poor souls who forever have the word “kitchen” inked on their arm, or a t-shirt that proudly proclaims the wearer is a beautiful fish.

Now, another western brand is stepping up to add to garbled Japanese to their threads with a fall line apparently dedicated to “bad squirrels”

Read More

Japanese language test-takers flip out over Engrish bathroom sign, get correction-happy

The JLPT (Japanese Language Proficiency Test) is a test of Japanese as a second language knowledge and is held twice a year in Japan and many other countries around the world. Since the test is entirely in Japanese, it can be taken by anyone regardless of English ability.

Even so, the organization decided to put up English translations on bathroom signs at a test location in Japan, and some irritated English-speaking members of the Grammar Police decided to do a little editing work whilst sitting on the potty.

Read More

Why Does Engrish Happen in Japan? Part 2: Please refrain from using the bathroom alone

It’s time once again for an episode of Why Does Engrish Happen in Japan? If you missed the first installment (which we really should have given a clever name like Why Does Engrish Happen in Japan? ~Unexpected Opening to the Truth~) you can check it out here.

Today, we’re taking a look at a hotel in Japan that seems to be clamping down on solo peeing, with a sign posted in its lobby that requests visitors “Please refrain from using the bathroom alone.”

Read More

Chinese snack shysters rip off Koala’s March cookies, complete with gibberish Japanese

It’s no secret that these days, everyone’s ripping everyone else off when it comes to products. But yummy Japanese snack foods seem to be a particular target, with Korean-based company Lotte famously copying Japan’s popular “Pocky” sticks right down to their svelte packaging. And now it seems that China has got in on the act, with this knockoff version of Japan’s beloved “Koala no March” animal biscuits.

Unfortunately, these shysters didn’t even bother trying to make it look like an original product, opting instead for nonsensical Japanese writing on the packaging and grimaces of pain on the face of every cookie koala…

Read More

Pro announcers have hilarious conversation over unfortunately named sausage snack

I’m sure most of you are aware that Japan is full of awesomely terrible Engrish. Some of it may be cringe-worthy, but the child in us can’t help but snicker as we tell our friends we just had a cup of Calpis, that we bought our new outfit at titty&Co., or spent the evening at Pink Pussy.

However, the humor of such unfortunately-named products, brands and spectacularly named bars is not completely lost upon the Japanese themselves. Take, for example, these two professional announcers, who had a hilarious back-and-forth on Twitter over some Homo Sausage.

Read More

Pronunciation anxiety: many Japanese people don’t want to speak English unless it’s “perfect”

With the 26 letters of the alphabet, we can make pretty much any sound present in the majority of languages. But Japanese just doesn’t contain certain sounds present in English, like “th” or “v”, and their “r” is somewhere right between our “r” and “l”, making them sound almost exactly the same to Japanese ears.

Since most Japanese people grow up only speaking Japanese, it means that when they start learning English at school, they either have to learn entirely new sounds (difficult) or else try to render English in Japanese sounds (which isn’t accurate). As a result, many Japanese English learners feel a lot of anxiety over the accuracy of their pronunciation. But should that really be holding them back?

Read More

Expats give their opinions on Chinglish, China’s garbled English translations 【Photos】

We’ve talked before about Engrish, the often humorously garbled form of English that peppers products and signage in Japan. The phenomenon isn’t unique to Japan, though, as the expat community in China also often comes across similar blunders, which the local community sometimes refers to as Chinglish.

But are these botched translations a sign of callous disrespect, or the end result of earnest effort coupled with sub-par linguistic skills? That was the question put to users of China Daily’s Internet forum, and here’s what a few had to say.

Read More

These “Engrish” T-shirts are kinda lame, compared to what we’re used to

Call us cynical, but we find that our standards over what constitutes funny Engrish have been changing.  Unless it’s something really hilarious, perhaps involving naughty words or references to embarrassing body parts, we just can’t muster up the same kind of enthusiasm we once had. When it comes to English that’s just a little bit off in certain ways, it’s sometimes just not that funny, especially when you understand the number of reasons why Engrish happens in the first place. However, visitors to Japan will always remember that first taste of Engrish fondly, even if the same example might fail to raise an eyebrow after a few years of acclimatizing. The last piece of Engrish I felt was worthy of documenting can be seen above – it’s a T-shirt from a store in Osaka and several years later it still blows my mind. However, there’s also plenty of pretty mediocre Engrish to be found, as we’ll demonstrate after the jump.

Read More

Why does Engrish happen in Japan?

Over the years, Japan has earned a reputation for its awkward command of English, with results ranging from the perplexing to downright hilarious. The country’s translation screw-ups are so common that they’ve even earned their own collective name, “Engrish.”

But for all the sites that poke fun at Engrish, it’s almost impossible to find one that talks about why it happens. So today we’re offering a bit of explanation along with the laughs, as we look at a sign in Japan that informs English-reading passersby that “Today is under construction.”

Read More

English fail or win? Japanese actress loves gardening, hates bullshit (according to her T-shirt)

Japanese TV personality Yuko Ito has been working in the entertainment industry for almost 20 years now. Having been at turns a swimsuit model, actress, and pitchwoman for Sapporo Beer, Nissan, and telecommunications provider NTT, we imagine she’s run into more than a few disingenuous showbiz types while paying her dues and building a career for herself.

Now, it looks like she’s done putting up with their two-faced double-talk, assuming she can actually understand the English on the T-shirt she wore during a recent TV appearance, which implored those watching, “Protect me from all your bullshit.”

Read More

Japanese actor’s unfortunate choice of t-shirt has net users amused, doubting his English ability

Osamu Mukai is a well-known drama and commercial actor in Japan, best known for playing heart-throb types on prime time TV. He also apparently does not speak English or pay much attention to his fashion choices, as a recent appearance on what seems to be a typical Japanese evening talk show proves.

While the majority of the Japanese audience probably had no idea what the English on the actor’s drab green T-shirt meant, one eagle-eyed Twitter user seems to have noticed, and thus immortalized, Mukai’s unfortunate fashion choice for the world to see.

Read More

New Japanese restaurant named はな毛 (nose hair), sighted in Germany, actually has a Japanese owner!

If you’re located outside of Japan, think of some Japanese restaurants around you and chances are their names contain easily recognizable, if uninspired, nouns like “sakura,” “Tokyo,” or “Fuji.” For instance, near me are eateries like Umi, Kaze, Samurai Boston, and countless Teriyaki House’s. One even contains my name, requiring me once in a while to explain that no, I’m not related.

Now, imagine the surprise of one Japanese Twitterer who stumbled upon an okonomiyaki restaurant in Berlin, Germany called “Hanage (はな毛)”, or nasal hair. Mmm, scrumptious!

At first glance, you’d think that this is simply another case of unfortunate word choices by a non-native speaker, like some kanji tattoos or English directions on Asian food packages. Almost as surprising as the bodily reference, however, is the fact that this restaurant was opened by a Japanese woman! To quote one Twitter commenter, “Why? Why? Why?”

Read More

【TBT】HEMORRHOIDS! The best of comically bad Japanese T-Shirts on non-Japanese torsos

Everyone loves Engrish, and everyone enjoys lampooning the machines that create it and the silly humans who wear it.

But is it as funny when the tables are turned? What happens when non-Japanese deck themselves out in clothing with unintelligible characters on it, only to have the true meaning outed on the web for all to see?

Read More

Tokyo shop makes ramen for foreigners by adding sugar, something called “Japanese sprit!!”

With the 2020 Olympics on the horizon, restaurateurs in Tokyo are already thinking about how they can appeal to the crowds of foreign tourists set to descend on the city. Most of them are focusing on spiffing up their English menus and adding pictures, but some eateries are actually cooking up new menu ideas to appeal to the non-Japanese palate.

We got word that a ramen shop in Shinjuku had concocted just such a dish, so we naturally went to check it out.

Read More

Willful ignorance ensures the existence of off-color Asian tattoos

Has internationalization taught us nothing? How strange it is that so many people can laugh unabashedly about the Orient’s attempts at “Engrish” and yet remain stubbornly ignorant of the meanings behind many Asian symbols, whether they’re printed on t-shirts or inked into their skin?!

Yes, the existence of tattoos with inappropriate meanings remains an epidemic. What’s perhaps the most surprising is that even in this day and age many people sporting these strange Asian symbols didn’t necessarily skimp on the research and just got suckered into something by their tattoo artists. Rather, many Western people don’t care enough to ask about the meanings at all!

Read More

Prefect Your Navy Salute with Salute Trainer App, Comes with Engrish Instructions!

Here’s an awkward situation I’m sure we’ve all had to deal with at one point or another.

Your recently-divorced out-of-the-closet father with a thing for guys in uniform has begun bringing home high ranking military officials.

You want to show these officers and gentlemen their due respect, but every time you go to salute your lack of technique makes them look at you like you’re some kind of dirty hippy.  That scornful glare cast by a Rear Admiral as he flings on a feather boa is just the worst.

Luckily, the modern incarnation of the Japanese Navy, the Japan Maritime Self-Defense Force (JMSDF) put together a free iPhone app and instructional video to teach the proper way to salute.  The iPhone app called Salute Trainer also measures your saluting ability in detail and gives you a score and military style ranking.

Read More

Order in English and Your Coffee is Free at Rosetta Stone’s Language Cafe

Japanese people often get a hard time for their lack of English language skills. But with so few Japanese ever setting foot outside their own country, it’s little wonder that one of the most frequently heard reasons given for struggling with the language is the lack of opportunity to use it.

Just last night, in fact, I was completely caught off guard when a teenage girl in my local convenience store seized the opportunity to break out her English and asked me whether I needed a plastic bag. Unfortunately, I was completely unprepared for the question and it was only after she had repeated herself three times that I realised that a) she was speaking English and b) I’d probably just ensured that she never dare to do so ever again.

But perhaps the prospect of a free cup of coffee would rekindle her enthusiasm for language?

As part of a promotional campaign for the launch of its new ReFLEX language learning software, Rosetta Stone is opening a special limited-time-only cafe in a Shinjuku book store, giving customers the chance to use their English, and doling out free cups of coffee to those who can.

Read More

Japanese Tourists Share 15 Impressions of Traveling Abroad With Limited English Ability

While living in Japan and working as an assistant English teacher, I’ve lost track of how many times Japanese people have asked me why most people in Japan can’t speak English. Due to compulsory education requirements, every Japanese citizen must take 6 years of English language courses. What’s more, starting from the 2011 school year, elementary school fifth and sixth graders are also required to have an English class once a week. Some school districts even offer English classes for kindergarteners and elementary school students in grades first through fourth.

But even after spending half or more of their adolescent years studying the English language, many Japanese struggle to carry out an everyday conversation in English. This isn’t just a casual observation by Japanese citizens, either. Japanese students have among the lowest English TOEFL scores in Asia.

So when Japanese tourists want to take a trip abroad, many are unequipped with the practical language tools necessary to go about daily life in English.  The reality of this can be discouraging and even come as a shock to people who have spent years studying back home in Japan, especially when they realize phrases like “Is this a dog? No, It’s a pen.” don’t come up in conversation as much as their textbooks had suggested.

The following is a compilation of impressions of Japanese tourists who have limited English ability while traveling abroad.

Read More

Why the Japanese Are Bad at Foreign Languages (Part 2)

Many Japanese people lament their inability to carry out a proper conversation in English despite studying it for 10 years in junior high, high school and university.

Some people blame the education system, some people blame the lack of transparency between Japanese and other languages; but there just seems to be something about Japanese people that makes them terrible with foreign languages.

Continuing from yesterday’s post, we’d like to share the last part of Japanese columnist Ryuuji Haneishi’s discussion of why he believes they are.

Read More

  1. 1
  2. 2
Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 20,517 other followers