sentiment sl owed the outbreak among

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Forwarded to Victor Mair by Jeff DeMarco, two photos of English stream-of-consciousness signage on the window of a jazz bar in Xi'an. Above:

And below:


Spyker Bar to change the simple casual relaxed laissez-faire
character display charm drinking high ighted the theme of jazz
and music easy and free to slow down and blend with the mood
of the fluctuation

Imagine the free jazz bar

A jazz bar where you might enjoy the nostalgia

Welcome to the bar of our service is the greatest
accomplishment of your interest in consumer
sentiment sl owed the outbreak among

Victor's comment:

This is, in my estimation, neither Chinglish nor Zhonglish, but a kind of free-flowing, stream of consciousness English created by someone (a non-native speaker) who is not working from a Chinese text.  This is not so much "Lost in Translation" as "wandering, random thoughts" untrammeled by grammar.


  1. Tim said,

    June 10, 2010 @ 10:29 pm

    You might enjoy the nostalgia. No guarantees, though.

  2. Linca said,

    June 10, 2010 @ 10:32 pm

    That kind of works very well with the "Free Jazz" theme, though. That's pretty much what lyrics to Free Jazz music might have sounded like. After all, Ornette or Albert didn't have much regards for (musical) grammar, and that was the point.

  3. GAC said,

    June 10, 2010 @ 10:53 pm

    Sounds like some of the mangled crap I used to come up with in Chinese.

  4. unekdoud said,

    June 11, 2010 @ 12:16 am

    The top part still gets the point across well, but the bottom part is more of a mess. I have no idea what the outbreak has to do with jazz.
    A new kind of aphasia? Or was the writer just too "simple casual relaxed"?

  5. maidhc said,

    June 11, 2010 @ 2:17 am

    Maybe someone was trying to channel what might have happened if Jack Kerouac had gone into advertising?

  6. Katie said,

    June 11, 2010 @ 3:26 am

    "wandering, random thoughts untrammeled by grammar": an excellent bit of prose

  7. Kenny Easwaran said,

    June 11, 2010 @ 3:29 am

    If you fix the spelling it might all be reasonable as a sort of stream-of-consciousness decoration at a bar in the US – until you get to "slowed the outbreak among", which radically changes the tone.

    [(myl) The sans-serif font makes it unclear whether its "sl owed" with an extra space or "Is owed" with an extra capital letter and a letter swap.]

  8. möngke said,

    June 11, 2010 @ 5:27 am

    "High ighted" ?

    [(myl) Quite high ighted indeed, I think.]

  9. Mark P said,

    June 11, 2010 @ 8:46 am

    I'm hoping they did exactly what they intended to do. I can imagine a guy with a goatee and a beret reciting this while perched on a stool in a smokey bar. At the end, someone claps once.

    [(myl) From V., about a club in NYC in 1956:

    Outside the V-Note, a number of bums stood around the front windows looking inside, fogging the glass with their breath. From time to time a collegiate-looking type, usually with a date, would emerge from the swinging doors and they would ask him, one by one in a line down that short section of Bowery sidewalk, for a cigarette, subway fare, the price of a beer. All night the February wind would come barrelling down the wide keyway of Third Avenue, moving right over them all: the shavings, cutting oil, sludge of New York's lathe.

    Inside McClintic Sphere was swinging his ass off. […]

    "He plays all the notes Bird missed," somebody whispered […]

    Outside the wind had its own permanent gig. And was still blowing.


  10. Ralph Hickok said,

    June 11, 2010 @ 10:17 am

    Someone claps once with one hand, I suppose.

  11. Carl said,

    June 11, 2010 @ 11:57 am

    Any anime fans, ever read the text during the eyecatch flashes of Cowboy Bebop, or during its intro sequence? It has the same sound.

    Of course, it's also highly influenced by jazz, in terms of series feel. I don't think this kind of language use is accidental. I think it's an attempt to capture the feel of the music in written word.

  12. Dan Lufkin said,

    June 11, 2010 @ 1:08 pm

    The Optical Society of America has (used to have, anyway) a rule that the introduction of honored guests at the annual convention banquet merited only one clap (per attendee, of course). This custom was always explained first by the master of ceremonies, but it was amusing to watch the reactions of the honored guests.

    In my opinion, this is a custom that should be adopted more widely.

  13. Dan T. said,

    June 11, 2010 @ 1:51 pm

    That "one clap per person" tradition is used at the awards ceremony of Mensa gatherings, where they call it the "Cleveland clap" after the location of the gathering (in 1978) where it was introduced.

  14. Dan Lufkin said,

    June 11, 2010 @ 8:21 pm

    Well, I'm heartened to learn that reason still prevails. My experience at OSA dates to the mid-1960s, which is why I waffled. I wouldn't be surprised if the custom arose at King Arthur's Round Table.

    "Cleveland clap," eh? That just begs for a crash blossom.

  15. Dan Lufkin said,

    June 14, 2010 @ 12:35 pm

    Just for the sake of completeness, may I mention that I've just been informed that the "Cleveland clap" is also the custom in the Norwegian army. Small world.

  16. Terry Collmann said,

    June 16, 2010 @ 6:36 pm

    This looks to me like an extended version of what I have come to think of as "T-shirt English", because short phrases in this style of broken language frequently appears printed on cheap T-shirts and polo shirts on sale in Asia. One example I saw recently on the T-shirt of a South Asian labourer in Abu Dhabi: "Converse exhibition desigh original braand" – "sic" for both "desigh" and "braand". The idea seems not to print anything that actually means something, but merely to sprinkle a little of the (apparent) prestige of the English language (or what will look like the English language to someone who has only a slight acquaintance with it) over your apparel.

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