A little cryptic title for my long-overdue first post in 2013, but I’ll quickly explain. Having a wisdom tooth removed is not an experience I would wish on many people, yet is something I had to go through this past week. A couple of weeks ago I got a pain at the back of my [...]
You Are Viewing Engrish!
Some of you might have seen on the news or read that there was a mass protest here in Okinawa last weekend about the continued US military presence, and the lack of any action being taken by the present government despite election pledges stating they would. Although you would think that after 50 years of not living up to election pledges by political parties here in Japan they would have got used to it by now. The protest was on the national Japanese news, and even made international headlines, being reported on the BBC website. The attendance figures seemingly created by the same people who make up the St Helens RLFC crowd attendances (i.e. vastly overstated!), with much fewer than the 100,000 people being quoted by the media.
But for once I’m not going to provide commentary on the protest itself, but an image I saw of one of the protesters. I’ve become accustomed to rather strange English over the years, but this one certainly had me laughing.
To start with, it looks like the “r” in “military” was at one point another l, until someone pointed out the mistake in her spelling! But it was obviously too much effort to make a new sign so she decided to go with it and just try to change it. After all, it’s not as if she’s going to be photographed and her image and banner shown worldwide now, is it? Next, I just can’t work out what is meant by “sexual terrorist”. Is it a criticism or a compliment?! To be honest if I was told I was a sexual terrorist I think I’d be somewhat flattered! I am eagerly awaiting the Japanese media to report that the US Marines on Futenma base in Okinawa have declared a sexual Jihad against the locals!
I just knew that if I kept quiet for a little while something like this story would come up. And lo & behold it has. Haven’t had so much motivation to do writing on here for a while, but this story I saw on Japan Update I just had to report on. The headline read “American GI’s arrested in two separate incidents” which drew me in for 2 reasons. Firstly I’m sure the apostrophe shouldn’t be in there, and secondly to see what horrific crimes they had been arrested for. Assault? Rape of a minor? Murder? Not quite…
One American is in Japanese custody on charges of stealing game dices from a snack bar, while a second has been charged with being drunk and crossing onto private property.
A 22-year-old stationed at Camp Schwab was caught shortly after he stole game dices at an Okinawa City Chuo area snack. Police say Calvin Edward Chandler took the dices, then fled. Staff saw Chandler take the dices and chased him, while others called police. He was caught and charged with stealing two dices, valued at ¥3,000.
A 20-year-old Marine stationed at Camp Foster was arrested after he knocked on the door of a residence in Chatan Town’s Miyagi area. Sean Patric Slein approached the residence and knocked on the door, frightening the woman occupant. She called the police who arrived shortly and found Slein still outside the door. The police asked him “Who are you? Why are you knocking on this door? This is not your area. This is somebody’s private yard.” The police then arrested Slein who was reportedly drunk at the time.
I mean, really… where should I start? I think bad English is as good a place as any! In a week where I’ve seen an exhaust manufacturer inexplicably called Drug Bomber, and a car horn with the manufacturer tagline “We produced with spartan air” around the edge of it, this completes a Triple Crown of Engrish! One of my English pet hates is people using “dice” as a singular word, when they should be using “die”. But this article takes it one further, and introduces a new word into the Engrish language called “dices”.
Right – that’s that out of the way and now onto the story itself. Is this even a story? Well, according to Okinawan news agencies it is. So this first guy stole a pair of dice from a snack bar. Those dice, unless made from platinum or some special Louis Vuitton dice, would cost around 100 yen (70p) from the local cheap product store. Although given that in these places a beer can cost over 1,500 yen (£10) then maybe it’s plausible. But can you imagine the police’s reaction when they got the emergency call?
Bar owner: “Hello. We have an emergency here at bar Papa Rich (not the name of the club in question but a similar snack bar). Someone has just fled the scene stealing property from the bar. Please come quickly!”
Police: “Calm down, ma’am. Take a deep breath. What has been taken”
Bar owner: “A pair of dice. He’s getting away!”
Bar owner: “It’s a foreigner!”
Police: “We’ll be there right away, ma’am!”
The last bit is a little tongue-in-cheek, but it’s not a big stretch of the imagination. You think there must have been something else that would cause the police to take action, but maybe not given the stories that make the Okinawan headlines regarding members of the US military here.
And then the second story is another bizarre one. The guy was arrested for being asleep on her doorstep, or did he try to break into her place? By the sounds of it he knocked on the door and there is no mention at all as to whether she even answered it (although answering the door late at night is usually a no-no unless, like me, you are woken at about 5am by a dozen police officers as your neighbour has been murdered, but that’s beside the point). It seems very unlikely that someone should normally be arrested for knocking on a door when it’s late at night, otherwise I’m sure the vast majority of salarymen throughout Japan would have been arrested at some point in their lives!
Maybe the police were just under their “US military personnel arrest” quote for September, and needed to get a few final arrests in before today. Either way, it does look pretty pathetic and that they are really scraping the barrel for stories to put the old “round-eyes” in a bad light.
Most people who come to Japan remark that the country’s cleanliness is one of the things that stands out to them first of all. But if you take a look a little deeper under the surface then something you will see is a deep-set passion for tobacco, as this picture will testify.
This top did make me smile. In a world where, in most developed countries tobacco has lost its fashionable touch and increasing numbers of places are becoming smoke-free, it’s great to see Japan selling T-shirts with I (heart) Cigarette on! I don’t even want to try and comprehend the slogan below the title. Every time I look at it and try to make it into something that mere mortals can understand it just makes my head hurt.
But while this is an Engrish post with a little humour, I will raise a more serious point here, and that is the acceptable nature of tobacco that remains in Japan. This may be an Okinawan thing as my experiences in mainland are limited, but it does seem to be a situation of hypocracy. The length of Kokusai Dori in Naha (the main shopping street in Okinawa’s prefectural capital), but smoking is still allowed in restaurants, with a lot of places still lacking no-smoking areas. Once you get out of the cities and into the rural community then it seems to increase.
An example of this is when I went to a local cafe/family restaurant a couple of weeks ago with my girlfriend and her daughter. We could see the place was almost full as we walked in and the first thing that hit us when we opened the door was a wall of smoke. Every table that night had at least two people who were smoking, and it’s all you could smell or taste in the air. We were waiting to order and asked the table between us and the wall if they could open the adjacent window a little to let some fresh air in. The guy we asked looked disgusted at the request and slid open the window by about 2-3″. 20 seconds later I noticed him glance back over to us and closed the window again. After 10 minutes my girlfriend’s daughter was just coughing through all the smoke so we just walked out, out clothes and hair reeking of smoke.
You do wonder sometimes when Japan will start to join other countries and become a place where tobacco is not seen as so acceptable. Am not saying it should be banned completely, but it’s all about respect and being respectful when you’re smoking.
Back to some good, old-fashioned Engrish for this post. Saw this in a local Family Mart (convenience store) here in Okinawa and it had me a little confused, but smiling I whipped out my phone and took a picture.
I’m sure you’re thinking the same thing that I’m thinking: wild, but what?! Wild, but gives you a bad hangover? Wild, but a bit too sweet for most tastes? Wild, but overpriced? The public demand to know!
This actually reminds me of a postcard I got once at the end of the academic year from one of my classes. All students in the class had written a thank you message of some descript and some of the messages weere really sweet. The one I will always remember though is, “I enjoyed your classes, and you are good teacher, but sometimes you…”. Sometimes I what?! Don’t leave me hanging on like that!
We’ve not had some Engrish for a while so I thought I’d throw some in today. This is a warning in a Jusco (Japanese shopping centre chain) underground parking area. I think it is warning of flooding in cases of extreme rain, although I can’t really be sure…
Does taking your dog for a walk everyday file you with doom and gloom? Do you long for another way of getting Fido his daily exercise while enjoying the luxury of being in your own vehicle? Well it looks like Daihatsu has a solution.
Combining men’s loves of dogs and cars has often been a tough game of compromise, but now you can attach the dog to the back of your car! As you can see from this picture I found in a Daihatsu car catalogue, it’s a stroke of genius. You get to keep comfortable in air conditioned luxury in your car, and man’s best friend gets exercise as he knows that if he stops or slows down, his carcass is just going to be dragged all the way to the shops. I mean really, what could possibly go wrong?
Honestly though, I’m surprised I’ve not been driving around when I start to see canine entrails on the road. Then when I catch up to the next car in front of me I see the remains of a dog who decided that travelling at 70kph wasn’t really sustainable for a toy poodle for any extended period.
I’ll give it about 3 months until I hear of this happening.
Saw this sign a while back in Hokkaido and for a split second I had a “What the hell… moment”. I’ll let you see the sign and then I’ll explain.
Any guesses what this could. It’s from a hotel cafe of course! It was breakfast at the hotel cafe and they had a self-service buffet. You have to be a little twisted to understand the bad English here but hopefully you can.
More Engrish to come soon!
It has been curious to watch the buildup to last November’s US election and Barack Obama’s inauguration here in Japan, and people’s opinions of it. The media proudly reported that outgoing president Bush telephoned Taro Aso to thank him for his support (not really sure how Aso supported him in the previous 3 months of his leadership, maybe by endeavouring to get lower popularity ratings than him) in a display of self back-slapping at how important Japan is. And then, on talking about Obama’s presidency over the next 4 years, a lot of the talk has been about how Japan expects Obama to work with Japan to sort out the abduction problem with DPRK. I am sure that, with all the problems that are plaguing America and the world at large at the moment, Obama will put them on the backburner to focus his efforts on a bi-lateral problem with virtually no interest outside Japan. The Japanese public have also been taking note of Obama, although none of them are quite sure why. If you ask someone here to tell you about Obama they will say something like “He is a black man” or “He wants change”, but if you ask for more detail about these changes things become strangely silent.
But Obama fever has grown in Japan, along with his catch-phrases. Which brings me onto my workplace. Last weekend high school students in Japan took the Center test: a standardised test for students wishing to go to university in the forthcoming academic year. Usually the students in the years below will make motivational posters for these students to show their support. Well last Friday I went into school and what greeted me raised a wry smile.
And then I looked at the smaller posters made by individual classes. “Yes you can!”, “Yes! We can!”, and one which simply said “Yes! Can!” I am assuming the latter was a grammar mistake rather than an exclamation of support for tinned foodstuffs. Obama-fever has definitely hit even the farthest reaches of Japan.
Amusing as they are though, it comes nowhere close to tbe best commend I have read about Obama from a student. Normally I wouldn’t put students work online but I got their permission and this one is a must-see. This was during an end-of-term test. The students had read an article about Obama winnin the US election and Al Qaeda’s message in response. Students were asked to write their opinions on the story. This was one of the answers I received:
“I like Mr Obama. He is god. Because He likes slave. I think disagree slave system. We should lose slave system. We should love brack colour people. All people is family all over the world. I hope to piece all over the world. Thank you.”
As I picked my jaw up off the floor and started to analyse this, I tried to imagine what the hell the student was thinking. I can understand the spelling mistake in missing out an “o” in good, although that is made more amusing by him then writing “He” with an uppercase “H” in the next sentence. But the talk about slaves and losing the slave system… does that student still think the slave system is in operation in the US? I dare not ask for fear of him telling me the answer.
So there you have it. Obama will be a good president because he is God, and he loves slaves!