Saturday, August 9, 2008

Taiwanese English - Part 1

In Taiwan, as in many other Asian countries, there is a real drive to learn to speak English. I should qualify that by saying that Taiwanese children are driven by their parents to learn to speak English. The acquisition of English as a second language is seen as an investment in the child's future and parents are keen to make this investment in what is a competitive job market and will probably still be a competitive job market in the future when their children are old enough to be looking for jobs. There are English schools everywhere just as there is English everywhere. But it doesn't take long to realise that while the ability to communicate in the English language is a thing most desired, the English that is plastered on t-shirts, sign-boards, packaging, vehicles, etc. often leaves much to be desired. This then is a small collection of some examples of English employed with more exertion than expertise.

O the irony.

I know what they meant but it doesn't sound good.
Love Baby Preschool Pudding Burger American School? Really?

I'm not sure how this one came about. I suspect that whoever devised this business name has some idea of the meaning of the word but little idea of how offensive it could be to the ears of a native speaker. It's funny how Chinese swear-words don't seem to hit you in the 'guts' of your brain in the same way that English swear-words do. The relationship between swearing, the evocation of taboo concepts, and particular areas of the brain is a well-established one. There is even a medical term for uncontrollable and impulsive swearing, 'coprolalia' that is often a symptom of Tourette Syndrome and can be associated with certain kinds of brain injury. I don't think the individual responsible for naming this business was suffering any severe brain injury.

Motorcycle slogans deserve their own, dedicated category. Manufacturers do their best to come up with a slogan in English that conjures up images of the paradise on two wheels promised by the scooter to the prospective buyer. Going 50 - Move your creative heart!

Cabin - with fashionable feeling!

Party 50 - Flying Angel of Elegant, Nimble and Beautiful. At least they punctuated correctly.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

This is a fantastic post! I'm in Tainan right now and had to Google Pudding Burger Pre School just to make sure it was real... haha