Title: More Chinglish: Speaking in Tongues
Editor: Oliver Lutz Radtke
Publication Year: 2009
Publisher: Gibbs Smith
A friend of mine gave me this cute little book (a sequel of sorts to Chinglish: Found in Translation), and I love it. Everyone who has traveled in Asia is familiar with the strange English found in the unlikeliest of public places – as is probably everyone familiar with the internet at large. The internet fad started with Engrish (popularized by a website of the same name), the Japanese version of creatively mutilated English, but Japan is far from the only Asian country to push the boundaries of what the English language can do.
Radtke has collected a number of examples of so-called “Chinese English” found on menus (Fried special wikipedia; Onion explodes the distant senate), public service announcements (If you are stolen, call the police at once; No Throws the thing), signs encouraging tourists to be respectful of nature (Our life will be ceased if you step hard; PLEASE NOT DRAMA WATER), and product placement (twin in good’re you won ohinwhllo do juce jias). His book is prefaced by a short introductory essay describing the position of David Tool on Chinglish as a valuable cultural artifact. Also included is a short dialog between Radtke and Victor Mair, who explains the origins and academic appeal of Chinglish.
I agree with all parties involved that Chinglish is linguistically fascinating, and I enjoyed flipping through this collection and trying to puzzle out what in the world was going on with each bit of text. Also, as Professor Mair points out, the disconnect between the intended and actual meaning of these expressions is often silly to the point of hilarity. I’d like to conclude with my own favorite bit of Engrish, taken from the side of a gift bag sold in the Lawson convenience stores ubiquitous in Japan: