木曜日, 7月 29, 2004

Engrish 4 U

    This morning walking down the street I saw a woman wearing a T-shirt proclaiming in big English capital letters:


    Once on the subway platform I saw a woman wearing a long flowing blue skirt with pleats and a menu for a pancake restaurant printed on it in garish white letters, with prices. This struck me as absurd. It would have been an elegant skirt without the IHOP menu on it. Though for all I know, skirts like that are fashionable in the U.S. too right now. Because I can be wrong sometimes about distinguishing between Engrish and international fashion. I thought all of those "JUICY" T-shirts I've been seeing lately were Engrish. Choose JUICY, In Search of JUICY--that's not real English, is it? Turns out Juicy Couture originates from the U.S., not Japan.

    There is a new coffee called "DRIVER" in the vending machine at the station by my school. Below a picture of a steering wheel, the English text on the can explains, "A brand new fine coffee for all drivers. Enjoy the taste and refresh your mind!" If this coffee is really for drivers, what is it doing in a subway station? The people who stop at canned coffee vending machines are pedestrians and passengers of public transportation. I think a legitimate driver would grab a coffee at a gas station or drive-through coffeeshop or something. Then it occurred to me that maybe it's a marketing strategy to appeal to us commuting to work by public transportation because we only wish we were driving. It must work by tapping into a subconscious collective fantasy to escape from the underground maze of urban transportation and hit the open road.
    Then again, maybe it's just meaningless English drivel like so much else.
    Lastly, I was looking in a Kobe souvenir shop for a souvenir for a friend. I saw a box shaped like a house with pictures of Beatrix Potter-ish animals cavorting on it. It was labeled Maple Cake. Below that, it said:

    Dear animals are also favorite delicious cakes.
    Using many materials selected carefully,
    the confectionery craftsman burned carefully and raised.   

    Not only did the cake not have any dear animals in it (carefully burned and raised animals), I also don't understand how it can be a maple cake without any maple sugar or flavoring in it. The ingredients are: "flour, egg, vegetable oil, granulated sugar, lemon juice, honey, baking powder (may contain milk)."
    I was thinking of getting it for my friend anyway as a joke so I asked the salesclerk (in Japanese), "How does this taste?"
    I expected him to reassure me that it was delicious, in which case I would feel no compunction about buying it for the Engrish laugh value, but instead he evaded the question. "We sell a fair number of them," he said cautiously.
    "I see," I said, still thinking about buying it.
    "If you want a really good cake, you're better off going to a specialty bakery. These cakes are for souvenirs, so the taste is not that good. Well, they're cheap, and you get what you pay for," he said, warming to his topic.
    "Oh!" I said, thinking it probably doesn't taste so good after all if he is willing to be this honest.
    "Well, it's not completely inedible," he laughed.
    I went home without buying the Maple Cake.


  • At 4:55 午前, Blogger Soiboy said…

    Juicy is defintely Japanese, no Juicy here in the States.
    the web address comes from japan
    it is always fun to see the Engrish in Japan, I hope to visit on my next trip back to Thailand.

  • At 5:29 午後, Blogger butterflyblue said…

    I had never heard of it in the U.S. before I left either, but it's a new company based in L.A. This link has more info:


    If you ask me it's a stupid name but what can you do.

  • At 3:50 午後, Anonymous 匿名 said…

    Maple cake would make a good Christmas gift for me. Sounds delicious.Funny about the dear animals. I've heard of Juicy merchandise in the U.S.



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