February 10, 2010

The Joys of "Manglish"

I was just on Facebook when my friend Nick posted a clip from Engrish.com.  Have you ever looked up this site?

Basically, it's postings of signs that contain mangled English from around the world.  Fluent English speakers will use their phones or snap photos and then, if they pass muster, they're posted.  Some people that post are ex-pats; some are stationed in foreign countries; others are just on vacation or a business trip.  Some photos are taken right here in the US or Canada or other predominantly English-speaking countries that have strong ethnic communities.

Here are some examples of Manglish (mangled English) that have been found around the globe:

"We are breads.  Every day we made energy for most people.  Some people eat we with jam or butter." (Sign found in Chang Mai, Thailand)

"FRANCE - Let's show the power more & more?!  Dream hope real play!"  (Toddler shirt found in Japan)

I'd like to show France the power more & more!

Before you could easily post anything to the Internet (and keep in mind, it's really only been about seven years, as incredible as that may seem) there were books on this very subject.  I happen to have some of these books, and one of my favorites is called "Free Drinks for Ladies with Nuts".  The author, Jane O'Boyle, has traveled extensively and compiled, along with her friends, some of her favorite malapropisms found abroad (with a special section in back for "English gone wrong").

They say that English is one of the hardest languages to learn.  I don't know if that's true, but it seems to be difficult to learn how to spell, judging by how many people even here in the U.S. that can't differentiate between "their", "they're" and "there" (or "than" and "then", for that matter).  It's epidemic.  Don't even get me started with the atrocious use of apostrophes (or should I say, "apostrophe's"?  GRRR!!!).  So if we can't even figure out our OWN language, how can we expect non-native speakers to get it right?

Maybe therein lay the humor (no, not "lies"!).  If we hear the Manglish coming from Yugoslavia ("The flattening of underwear with pleasure is the job of the chambermaid."), then we can feel that much better about our own abilities as a speaker of English.  I mean, we would never be THAT bad, right? 

Although, I would really like my underwear flattened with pleasure.

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