出XIT

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Bruce Rusk thought Language Log readers might be interested in a bit of digraphia from Vancouver: an "escape room" company (on this phenomenon, see here), with several locations in Vancouver and its environs, uses the Sinograph chū 出 ("go out / forth; exit") in place of the letter E in its name, "出XIT" (where it looks like a doubled, rotated E). The logo looks like this:

You can see their website here, and you can see more of the signage in photos of their locations.

Bruce says that he doesn't know whether their intended market is partly/largely Chinese-literate, and how that might affect how customers interpret this logo.



11 Comments

  1. Mara K said,

    May 13, 2016 @ 11:02 pm

    The presence of "出" primes me to read "XI" as if it were pinyin.

  2. Alyssa said,

    May 14, 2016 @ 12:22 am

    Clever! I'd guess that being located in Vancouver, they probably expect a substantial portion of their customers to recognize "出". But likely it's primary purpose is simply to look cool.

  3. Joel said,

    May 14, 2016 @ 12:43 am

    Funny … one of the outlets is within walking distance of where I live. I too thought that it was clever. I would surmise that Alyssa is correct in that Vancouver and its suburbs have a very large Chinese population and that many might recognize that "出" is a Chinese character. That said, I don't know how many people would recognize that the character itself actually means "exit."

  4. unekdoud said,

    May 14, 2016 @ 12:53 am

    Written in green, it reminds me of the green man on normal escape signs, except that apparently this green man is climbing out of whatever room he's stuck in.

    Even knowing what the company name is, its still hard to read it as intended. My brain keeps jumping to Chu XIT or just xit; I presume Japanese speakers would interpret it as Dexit in some kind of pun-unciation.

    Or perhaps another way to read this would be "出 X IT", as if two companies collaborated to make the escape room happen.

  5. James Bradbury said,

    May 14, 2016 @ 1:47 am

    It's almost certainly meant to be Japanese, as escape room games and other parts of the contemporary culture of "puzzling" have their epicenter there.

  6. Adam Roberts said,

    May 14, 2016 @ 3:16 am

    To me, the symbol looks like a stick man sitting on the floor with his arms up in surrender. I appreciate that that's merely my ignorance and western alphabecentrism (it could just as easily be said that the 'X' looks like a standing man with his arms up in surrender: I don't tend to see that letter that way because I'm much more used to it). But to me it gives the whole sign a vibe less of a 'this might save your life in the event of a fire' exit and more of 'give up and get out' exit.

  7. Anschel Schaffer-Cohen said,

    May 14, 2016 @ 2:59 pm

    I'm with James Bradbury. There's a large overlap in North America between the kinds of people who are interested in escape rooms and the kinds who are likely to have studied some Japanese.

  8. Felix said,

    May 15, 2016 @ 12:16 am

    I am no linguist. I learned enough Japanese in the Navy to travel as a tourist, and enough Kanji to memorize city names on bus signs and railway schedules; I was told I was somewhere around 3rd grade level. When I saw this, I immediately recognized it as both the Kanji and the word "exit", much like "5ive" or simple 3ee4-speak. Perhaps if I were more familiar with Japanese or Chinese, it would not have been so easily recognized.

  9. R. Sode said,

    May 16, 2016 @ 3:41 pm

    The Japanese counterpart of the English word 'exit' in this context is 'deguchi'. When the Exit Canada gaming company's logo "出xit" is read 'dexit', it is a regular Blend (as in the textbook case of [smog + fog = smog]), with the only difference that it is code-mixed and digraphic. That makes more sense in terms of legible logo design :).

  10. Tom Vinson said,

    May 18, 2016 @ 5:51 pm

    "Chu" was one of the first Hanzi I ran across in real life. My parents were missionaries in China until 1948, and I grew up eating Chinese food at every opportunity. When I was in high school the nearest Chinese restaurant was in Charlotte, NC, 90 miles away.
    The doors into/out of the kitchen were labeled (in Hanzi) "chu" and "lai". It took maybe three minutes of watching the waiters for me to learn what the symbols meant, so I caught the meaning of this logo instantly.

    @unekdoud: pun-unciation is pretty good. Is it your invention, or did you pick it up somewhere?

  11. unekdoud said,

    May 18, 2016 @ 7:00 pm

    @Tom Vinson: I made it up for that comment, but I engage in wordplay (and read comment threads with both puns and metapuns about puns) so often that I'm not sure it's entirely original.

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