Monday, January 12, 2009

Gained in Translation

So I'm standing at the bus stop, waiting for the bus to take me to school on this snowy morning and what do I see?

Just a fellow-student waiting for the bus, right?

WRONG! I had just spotted an instance of 'engrish'!! Behold this wonderful sentiment on the student's backpack (I had to pretend to be taking pictures of the snow and then sneakily photograph him) ...

Ahhh...the joys of mistranslation!!

Wikipedia calls engrish 'non-standard variations of English often found in East Asian countries.' What started as a slightly politically incorrect documenting of funny mistakes in translation on instruction manuals or menus has now become a cottage industry of products (stationary, bags, t-shirts etc.) all with strange, quaint, oddly poetic examples of mis-translation.

Its hallmarks are cute (kawai), colorful, pop Japanese type motifs and designs juxtaposed with strangely worded, cheerful but oddly profound sentiments- all expressed on such important fora such as stationery, plastic containers, bags and dust bins. There's even a website devoted to all things engrish with some hilarious examples submitted by people all over.

I own quite a few 'engrish' products (lunchboxes, stationary, bags etc.) thanks to my trips to San Francisco (GREAT for Asian everything from food -dimsum, mochi and of course my beloved egg tarts which I have blogged about before- to clothes to Engrish products galore).

Now it's one thing to buy such products or look at them on the internet but quite another to make such a serendipitous find! I miss San Francisco terribly so it was nice to be reminded in such a fun way of all its little treasures...

I leave you hoping that you all have days like these and with this timeless tip. You're welcome.

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