November 30, 2010

Shooting Fish in the Language Barrel

There are different versions of English used in Japan: English the foreign language, English words that enter the general vocabulary through Japanized pronunciation, and in smart-but-contrived quasi-“English” (for example: remote control = ‘remokon’). Use of English in Asia is growing and often results in hilarious and inexplicable gibberish that is subsequently celebrated in websites such as Engrish.com. (The opposite of this is Western people who get tattoos of Chinese characters of which they are unsure of the meaning, occasionally resulting in permanent ink-induced hilarity indelibly marked on their skin…)

Anyway, I’m not heading into a rant about English in Japan or a lecture about pedantic Westerners and their attitude toward Asians’ use of the language. I don’t really care. I think language morphs with time and that the Internet is wreaking havoc on linguistic conventions in a way that global society has yet to really grasp, so why worry about it? If people want to speak understandable English, they’ll learn it. I just like the humorous elements of it all. Irony is a universal concept.

It’s too easy to find oddball English to hack on as it’s an almost-daily occurrence. I do, however, want to add a few unique signs that I have found over the last few months, viz.

Fukku: a hair salon in my neighborhood. Want your stinkin’ hair cut? Oh fer chrissakes, alright. Gimme your damn money. And Fukku you, too. This salon’s marketing tagline: “Service with a forced smile of contempt.”

I Heart Working: really? Japanese people are renowned around the world for their work ethic, but come on. Gimme a break. (I expect this shop to go bankrupt any day.)

Hard-Off Eco-Stadium (in Niigata prefecture):
Too much saltpeter in the hot dogs? Something in the water supply?

Beat Myself: I don't think this magazine cover's intention was to imply this Hiroshima Carp pro ballplayer "waxes his bat."
(Thanks to SDM for this addendum, added 05DEC10)

Season’s Greetings!

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