Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Kon’nichiwa Asuka II Part Fifteen – Engrish

At the moment the Asuka II is pulling into Osaka, but that’s not what’s important here. You knew it would happen eventually… this blog is dedicated to all the things I’ve seen that have struck me as odd over the past ten months. From poor grammar to nonsensical instructions, even pictures… the following things have made me pause for a moment.

Okay, hold on… before anyone starts to piss and moan, let me clearly state that I am not picking on anyone here. As a matter of fact, the pictures you’re about to see aren’t from any one place. I’ve seen strange things in Japan, China, Australia, South Korea, Russia… even America (well, American territories)... and to be fair, I really don’t have as many things to show you as I originally thought. You can visit websites like "EngrishFunny.com” and see daily updates of strange and bizzare uses of the English language all over the world, but from my point of view there really isn’t that much to see that’s blatantly (and humorously) wrong. That’s because, I think, the younger generations in countries like Japan are more familiar with English than previous generations. Finally, don’t anyone get their panties in a twist over this… I have shared these pictures with my friends (many of whom happen to be Japanese), and they find it funny as well.

Now then, that little disclaimer out of the way, there are some funny things to share. Let’s just jump right in…


Most of the time, this is what you see. It really isn’t wrong, if you think about it. All the napkin is trying to say is that vegetables and bread are meant to be together… makes sense. I mean, if it didn’t, would we have croutons? And besides, if people enjoy stale bread crumbs in salad, wouldn’t they enjoy fresh bread more?

Yeah, I’m pretty sure this is supposed to say “Shoes Clean.” The “R to L” issue has nothing to do with a person’s intelligence; it’s simply because the Japanese don’t have the “L” sound in their alphabet. And they know this… and they try really hard to make that “L” sound. Those of you who have listened to any dialect tape by Dr. David Alan Stern will remember that for any dialect he was teaching, he would tell you where in your mouth the dialect was “placed.” For Japanese, it would be in the back of the mouth; for English… the front. Therefore, in my humble estimation, the Japanese aren’t used to striking the back of their teeth with their tongue, which is essential in making the “lah” sound. So, when my Japanese friends ask me the difference between “glass” and “grass,” I have them say “la la la” as if they were singing, then say “glass.” That seems to work, along with explaining the imagery of dialect placement. See? You’re learning something…


This one isn’t wrong… I just like it. What is “Uncle Meat” selling? Vintage American clothes.


This one was taken in Saipan (so technically, I’m picking on the USA). I just love this shirt! “Hunting Action Monster Hunter.” That sounds so backwards, but so bad ass! Plus, I like the fact that the joker in the blue jersey thinks I’m taking his picture, since I didn’t want to rent a jet ski or deck chair. Yeah bra, hang loose.


Taken in Tokyo Disney, after which I exclaimed “that’s what she said.” And speaking of Disney…


Guess we’re not in California anymore… or maybe I am… finally, I saw this outside the Enchanted Castle:


Just be careful with how hard you swing that pick axe.


This was taken in Sydney, so my Aussie friends probably don’t even think this is funny. I think Manly is the name of an island, or dock? I don’t know, but I envision the ferry to be powered by two beefy and hairy arms that swat the water from behind the boat… I mean, isn’t that what you think of?IMG_1258

This one I see almost everyday… and you know, it does actually make me smile. This sign hangs on the inside of a crew door that leads to the Vista Lounge, a bar on deck 11 that is situated at the front of the ship. I am unable to explain the significance of the monkeys, and why they are coming at me from some sort of perspective, or why the person on top is eyeless and bald, or why the big monkey looks like he knows something I should… but when I see this, I think that I indeed am the best smile of Asuka crew member!

Funny thing, Asuka II maybe the biggest offender when it comes to poor grammar. Take for example:


There are at least a dozen of these signs on doors that lead to exterior decks 7 and 11, and all but one have “beware” misspelled. It’s a strange mistake, and one that cannot be attributed to poor translation. In any case, I try to “eware” of strong winds anyway, because you never know…


Shoo wee! I sure love me some rice puddin’! I could eat me a whole mess a’ that stuff!

Asuka II Dining Room Prep

Finally, for Asuka II, this one probably takes the cake (or rice puddin’). This paper’s instructions pertain to a specific way to set the table for a theme night in the dining room. Other than that, I have no idea.


You can file this one under “truth in advertising.” This leads to other examples of signage that isn’t wrong, just up front. For example:


In America, we’d say something like “please do not drink this water. It is reclaimed and could cause serious health issues.” But the Japanese are way too efficient for all that… this water isn’t good to drink. Simple and to the point. You drink it, it’s your ass.


I love this one! Advertising can’t get any more simple and to the point: Good smell. Good curry… Bad smell. Bad curry. And, if you smell bad curry, it would probably have a sign over it simply stating “This isn’t good to eat.” But, if you do choose the bad curry, you may have to use the bathroom at a moment’s notice. In your haste, you may forget the proper usage of a toilet. Well, thankfully there’s this handy diagram:

Correct Toliet Usage

Again, you may be shaking your head, but remember what the old school Japanese toilet looks like? This sign is for those who may be experiencing the new fangled method for the first time… I know, I know… but if you owned a restaurant and were constantly having to clean people’s used curry off the floor, you’d make a sign like this too.


Taken in Russia, it proves that spray paint needs a spell check.


Maybe I’m being a little selfish here, but I envision the owner of this business putting these words up so his employees will feel more at ease when he tells them to work weekends and holidays. You see Fred, in order for you to achieve true inner peace, you’ll need to work New Year’s Eve until 11PM, then come in January 1st at 7AM to open up. Oh, and can you work on Flag Day? I have this thing at my lake house…IMG_4043

Again, this bag speaks the truth. I have tried to start many conversations with “certain domestic animals have gifts of language,” and all I get are strange looks.IMG_3466

Taken in South Korea… here’s what it says: The sky is low the clouds are mean. A Traveling Flake of Snow Across a Barn or through a Rut Debates if it will go A Narrow Wind complains all Day. How some one treated him. Nature, Lick Us is sometimes caught Without her Diader… then it repeats most of that until the sign runs out of space. What is it advertising? No clue…


This advertisment, while found in Japan, was clearly taken someplace more… Arian. Either way, if that girl runs with her mouth open, dogs within a hundred mile radius will all cock their heads. And on the subject of handbags...

This one, again, needs some explanation. The word "Bakada" is actually made up of two words... "Baka" is Japanese for stupid, and "Da" is usually the suffix of important Japanese family names. Put the two together, and you get, essentially "Stupid Family" University, which is most likely "the most stupid university in the world. See? Even the Japanese make fun of improper English.


Did I have a great time at Bar Coma? I forget…IMG_4895

I can’t say a thing about this… it’s a paradox. An unholy marriage of puppets holding puppets.


Some things I’ve just stopped questioning, like Don Quijotes. What is it? Kind of like a claustrophobic Wal Mart. You can find anything in these multi-leveled stores, but the spaces between the shelves are about as wide as a piece of paper. Why do they call them Don Quijote? I have no idea… none. But they do have a theme song that is played on loop in the store! Kind of makes the random literary reference a little endearing. And no, the theme song does not sound like “Man of La Mancha.”


Again, there is really nothing wrong with this sign, but I love that the major difference between a man and a woman are her ENORMOUS HIPS! It looks like she took the saddle bags off a Harley and strapped them to her belt! Still, upon closer inspection, other differences include color, collar shape, and strangely enough, a man has rounded feet, while a woman’s feet are flat… probably worn down from the weight of her motorcycle accessory hips. And speaking of androgynous signage…


If people so casually walked down the street with Donkey Kong sized cigarettes, I’d want it stopped too! But notice the man’s feet… I smell a conspiracy.


I can only imagine that Mickey is tired because he spent all night go go dancing at Pooh’s Honey Pot. How else can you explain the leopard skin boy shorts?


That’s some plasticy silk…


This one is funny for a couple of reasons. The English here is actually fine, but they were obviously getting so many questions about just having a beer, that they had to write it out again in simple English: Just Beer NO! The other interesting thing about this is that the restaurant bills itself as a sort of Southern eatery, and its rustic exterior has old wood hitching posts, a confederate flag (Gasp!!!), long horns, etc… But, I guess people commonly associate Mexico with America, so they had to qualify that as well. Again, there’s truth in advertising.


I know… I know! But still, House of Pain! That’s hilarious!

And that’ll just about do it. I have some others, but they really aren’t that funny… and besides, we’re in Osaka now, and I’m just itchin’ to get off the ship and enjoy an overnight!

Keep on Livin’ The Dream,


Michael Lamendola

(Enjoying some birthday cake!)

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