Monday, March 28, 2005

"Speeding is not Safe"

Reader Callum sent me this photo of his friend's t-shirt.

At first glance, I thought the shirt had on it, which means "high speed press", something that is used in a dry cleaning shop.

Then I realized that the phrase is actually 高速ネ安, but I had no idea what that meant. I then forward the photo to my associates to see if they would recognize what the shirt meant.

So far the consensus is that the third character is actually a miswritten . Therefore the phrase is 高速不安, which means "speeding is not safe" or "high speed anxiety".

= high, tall; lofty, elevated
= quick, prompt, speedy
= no, not; un-; negative prefix
= peaceful, tranquil, quiet


  1. There is a word with 安 using 示 (ネ) as the radical, although its meaning and pronunciation is unknown to me.

    In any case, whatever's on the t-shirt seems like it must be some kind of typo to me.

  2. typos on T-shirts are the best I remember one of my friends got a temporary tatoo for his gf that was supposed to be hippo (she had a thing for hippogryfs, and that's as close as he could get). Anyways, it's Water + Horse characters I think. But the characters were reveresed, which means stupid. She had it on at a rave and a bunch of kids told her, apparently they laughed so much she had to leave. She dumped my friend on the drive home.

  3. Hippos are called in Chinese, which literally translates as "river horse." The reverse, 馬河, does not have any significant meaning (unless there is a river named 馬, or two people with these family names are getting married). Nor does 馬 ("horse water").

    In Japanese, however, 馬鹿 (baka) means "stupid."

  4. it might be interesting to note that the english word hippopotamus comes from the ancient greek for horse (hippos) of the river (potamos) via latin. i wonder when the chinese discovered and named the hippopotamus, and how much that had to do with possible contact with the ancient greeks.

    as for this nonsensical t-shirt, i wonder where the t-shirt is from. the fact that it has "original" before it might suggest that the 高速ネ安 might represent a name of some sort, but it certainly doesn't sound anything like 可口可樂.

  5. I would like to point out that hippo (or hippopotamus) is different than hippogryphs.

    Hippogryphs is a monster having the wings, claws, and head of a griffin and the body and hindquarters of a horse.

    The closest thing I can think of from Chinese culture would be 麒麟.

  6. Brian,

    Your friend's GF should be glad that he did not pick out 馬桶 for her, it means "toilet" or "sh!t bucket".

    馬 = horse
    桶 = bucket

  7. Tian: Yeah, the only thing a hippogryph and a hippopotamus have in common is the "hippo" part of the name. They look nothing alike, and roost in completely different environments--or at least one would assume, what with hippogryphs being mythic creatures and all.

    There's a hippogryph in Harry Potter. I wonder what it was translated as in Chinese.

  8. Im guessing this is a parady of a coke-a-cola T-shirt, which extends into a drug referance. It seems to specifically referance the use of cocaine. Or meth, but then its not funny.