Thursday, July 28, 2005
Language Misuse Go Round and Round
Here at Hanzi Smatter, my associates and I have spent endless hours chuckling over miswritten Chinese character tattoos. We also know that on the other side of the globe, there are probably some Asian schmucks that have English gibberish (or Engrish) tattooed on them as well. Even though we believed our prediction would be true, there has never been anyone that sends us photographic evidence to prove it.
That is why we were so excited when Reid Barrett sent this photo to us from Beijing. Along with the photo, Reid had this to say:
I'm a big fan of your site. Unfortunately like all Blogger and blogspot sites, it is blocked in China and so I have to go through proxies to keep up with your page.
Anyway, I was on the subway one day and noticed this Chinese guy standing next to me with a tattoo. When I saw what it was and the significance clicked, I was glad I had my camera with me. He let me snap off a pick just as he was leaving. Sorry it's not a great picture, but hopefully you and everybody else will get a kick out of it: a crudely made tattoo of a clichéd phrase in English on the body of a Chinese guy who doesn't understand a word of the language.
Yup, it says 'I love you!' but as you may be able to see the 'o' and 'v' are smashed together, the 'y' is written rather sloppily, and the 'u' is only half finished. It is a perfect parallel to poorly written Chinese and Kanji."
There are two reasons why we are ecstatic about Reid's find in Beijing's subway:
1. Superficial knowledge and misuse of language happens everywhere. Just look at Engrish.com.
2. Asians are not the only people that carry cameras, although the stereotyping is still funny and often true. I am doing my part to "representing" and keeping the stereotyping alive by purchasing another camera - Canon Powershot S1 IS.