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The Way The Nori Rolls

English is joyful with foreign countries

JAPAN | Monday, 29 March 2010 | Views [9435]

HELF!! Now that's EngRish! Suwon, South Korea

HELF!! Now that's EngRish! Suwon, South Korea

Spend any amount of time in Asia and you’re bound to stumble across some fine examples of misused English that, to the proficient English speaker, can be pretty amusing. 

Over the years some lovely signs have told me to “glide with care” in a Chinese hostel shower, warned me against “striding” and “stampeding” at Indian train stations and told not to “litre” in a national park in Laos.  I’ve been enticed into a “surprise meat” restaurant in Korea, drank “lame juice” in Vietnam and was welcomed to a “defecation free” town in Nepal.

Japlish / Janglish (Japanese-English), Konglish (Korean-English), Chinglish (Chinese-English), Khmerlish (Khmer-English), Laolish (Lao-English), Vietlish (Vietnamese-English), Hindlish (Hindi-Enlish) – call it what you will, it all falls under the greater banner of what is widely referred to as ‘EngRish’ – and, in my humble opinion, it’s awesome.

The term ‘Engrish’ can denote hybrid English loanwords adapted into the local vernacular, but generally it refers to (usually hilarious) grammatical and spelling errors or mistranslations of English found mostly on signs, menus, t-shirts and other miscellaneous products in non-English environments (usually in Asia, but not exclusively). The term comes from a common mispronunciation of the word ‘English’ by native speakers of some East Asian languages that do not have distinctive ‘R’ and ‘L’ sounds (for example, Japanese and Korean) resulting in ‘r’s and ‘l’s being swapped or sounding much the same as each other… English becomes Engrish, Lunch becomes Runch.

Capturing examples of Engrish on camera is a little hobby of mine, and over the last 2 years I’ve built up a collection of some 300 photos of pure Engrish gold.  But I’m not the only one who welcomes an oddly translated sign here and there, Engrish has gained a large, international following with countless appreciation societies and websites dedicated solely to the wonderful world of Engrish (see, for example, Engrish.com – the mecca for all things Engrish). 

You can make your own Engrish by simply translating an English sentence to another language on web-based translation sites such as babelfish.yahoo.com and then translating it back into English again (I find Japanese, Korean and Chinese work best).  Another fun Engrish related site is translation party... give it a go.

Reverse Engrish (the misuse of other languages in English speaking environments) is equally as fun… particularly when found in tattoo form.  See Hanzi Smatter for a wonderful showcase of botched Chinese characters in Western society.

Click here for Engrish photos from my recent trip to Japan... a few of my old favourites.

I including sincerity, desire the fact that you obtain the joy from the gallery of the photograph of my Engrish! (I hope you enjoy my Engrish photo galleries!)

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