16 October 2007

Regarding Engrish


One of my goals while visiting Japan was to find a good "Engrish" T-shirt (or three). Unfortunately, with t-shirt prices starting around 3500 Yen (about $33), I was SOL. I did, however, see some fairly humorous ads for a "Bacume Amp" and a trip to the "Garapagos." Mom's Japanese teacher explained that Japanese have difficulty distinguishing the difference between the "Rrr" and "Llll" sounds in English. They also have trouble with "Vuh" versus "Buh" and "th" versus "Sss."

That said, most of the printed English was spot-on. Japanese people clearly make an effort to translate things correctly that will go into print. In regards to the t-shirts, well, maybe Japanese people look at English lettering as art? For the same reason we might buy a poster with Japanese writing on it, or a set of chopsticks with Asian characters, perhaps the English writing is for decorative purposes only?

I think it's also important to mention, that Americans massacre Japanese as much (or more than) the Japanese do to English. While Japanese people may have trouble with certain sounds, we screw up common food names and the pronunciation of major cities:

Udon (a popular noodle soup)
We say: Ew-Don
It's really: Ooo-dhone (rhymes with "new phone")

Tokyo
We say: Toke-EE-O
It's Really: TOE-Kyo

Kyoto
We say: Kee-OH-to
I's really: KYO-toh

Subtle differences, no? Just like "Rrrr" versus "Llll."

1 comment:

kim sickel said...

all your base are belong to us.
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/All_your_base_are_belong_to_us