16 November 2004

More nerd words

by Matt Rubinstein at 10:20 am

engrish.jpgWe’re all familiar with the endearing cultural phenomenon known as Engrish or (perhaps less controversially) Japlish, where more-or-less random English words and phrases are plastered over advertising, packaging, T-shirts, stationery, and so on. This isn’t the dodgy translation of instruction manuals and hotel signs we used to see (I had a model truck whose instructions were just astounding, I wish I still had them); it’s aimed at Japanese-speakers and based on the fact that English is in some sense cool.

The same happens in reverse, of course: you see a lot of people going around with T-shirts or even tattoos of Chinese characters and have to wonder whether they mean what their wearers think they mean, if they’ve even given it that much thought. Maybe we’re all going around with the equivalent of “Crocodile Profusion” and “Cats Know Various Things” on our backs, or our skin. And here are some more examples, stolen from various websites, just because they’re so good:

Standard oneself whom be actual is certainly found.

Freshly cooked pasta is paired with chunky saunce for quick cooking in a skillet. It will expand a world of fancy pasta menu.

Happy Days of Young Sheep
I’m a sheep, young handsome sheep. They say every sheep looks like me very much. But look at them carefully. Their faces are a little bit difference. So I’m lonesome sheep. Would you date me?

Drifting story of a awkward bear and pretty penguins.
DON’T ABANDON HOPES, THERE IS THE DENOUEMENT.
Hey, here, here we are!!

HAPPINESS FROG
As I come closee to a dream, my heart throbs.

Natural bears
Let’s go out in a dreamy mood.

MELON SODA
This Sunday morning, time looks to flow especially more slowly than usual.

“Hello, is my voice hearable?”
“Yes, it is well hearable.”
“Let’s go to the movie on Sunday.”
“All right. Let’s do lunch together, after that. It is aware of wonderful restaurant.”

Now it’s everyday man’s job to
LOOK LIKE GOOD NEWS!
What can a believe in?

Sorry, but you can see how addictive this stuff is. Anyway, John McWhorter (again) shows how the Germans have got in on the act (though in a somewhat more tongue-in-cheek way) with their advertisement for McDonald’s “McMorning All-American Breakfast&#8221:

Egg McMuffin: About this Früstücksei lachen ja the chickens.

This is the Preis. Guck at it and think: Oh, very günstig!
The first Weizenbrötchen. So knusprig like the second Weizenbrötchen, which is unten.
The würzige Stück Speck. Gives you a lecker Geschmack and makes funny Geräusche zwischen the Zähne.
And this is from the Hühner: A crazy good Ei.
This ist the Chester-Schmelzkäsezubereitung. Käse is very lecker in the morning.
The second Weizenbrötchen. So knusprig like the the first Weizenbrötchen, which is oben. Please do not verwechseln oben and unten!

Some linguists point out that, although there are hundreds of thousands of words in English, 50% of actual usage is made up of the most common 100 words, and 80% uses only 3000 words. Slightly more advanced linguists counter that although this may be true, it’s the less common words that do the heavy lifting and provide most of the meaning: the rest is largely filler. That seems pretty clear from this example: although there are loads of English words in there, every time something important happens it’s in German.

It’s still pretty funny anyway, but I will tell you that the headline means “The chickens are laughing about this breakfast egg”; knusprig is “crunchy”; Geräusche zwischen the Zähne are “noises between the teeth” and Chester-Schmelzkäsezubereitung is “melted Cheddar cheese food&#8221. Apparently the official name is Angleutsch, but I’m sure you could substitute your own combination.

2 Responses to “More nerd words”

  1. Alastair Says:

    True or not, the urban legend about the disgruntled kanji tattooist is a good story.

  2. myrtone[dot]bigpong[at]google Says:

    Like this version, eh?
    G’day, from Egg McMuffin: Aboat this Früstücksei lachen ja the chickens.

    This iss’ the Preis. Guck at it and think: Oh, very günstig! Eh?
    The first Weizenbrötchen. So knusprig like the second Weizenbrötchen, which ist onten.
    The würzige Stück Speck. Gives you a lecker Geschmack and makes funny Geräusche zwischen the Zähne.
    And this it’s from the Hühner: A crazy good Ei, eh?
    This iss’ the Chester-Schmelzkäsezubereitung. Käse is very lecker in the morning.
    The second Weizenbrötchen. So knusprig læik the the first Weizenbrötchen, which is oben. Please verwechseln not oben and onten!

    Note:æi represents the vowel in Australian English ‘lake’ and Canadian English ‘like.’ Thought they were the same vowel, eh?

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