Bilingual, biscriptal sign in Virginia

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Sticker at a gas station near the Richmond airport, courtesy of Jonathan Smith:

You can read the English for yourself.

The Japanese katakana read:  fakkutoranpu ファックトランプ.

Hint for the first part in Roman letters: cf. the name of the southern hip-hop group, C-Nile.

Hint for the second part in katakana:   katakana constitute that component of the Japanese writing system that, aside from onomatopoeia, is used to transcribe foreign names and terms.


  1. Anschel Schaffer-Cohen said,

    February 16, 2018 @ 10:06 pm

    This is certainly biscriptal, but is in bilingual? Both halves are in English.

  2. Chris Button said,

    February 16, 2018 @ 10:13 pm

    Slight typo: It's actually ファックトランプ not フャックトランプ [VHM: fixed now]

    It's also an interesting typo since ャ ya is sometimes used instead of ァ a when representing the English /æ/ sound (as opposed to lower centralized Japanese /a/) after velar initials due to the way they often condition higher allophones of /æ/ sometimes verging on /ɛ/ in American English (e.g. キャップ kyappu for "cap"). However, in the word "f**k" here we have the English /ə ~ ɐ ~ ʌ/ vowel for which Japanese would have to go with an /a/ sound (e.g. カップ kappu for "cup").

  3. Victor Mair said,

    February 16, 2018 @ 10:33 pm

    @Anschel Schaffer-Cohen

    "Both halves are in English"

    No, the second half is in Japanese. It consists of two English words borrowed into Japanese. Japanese is full of tens of thousands of words of English derivation and tens of thousands of words of Chinese derivation. They have become Japanese words. The same holds for words of French derivation in English. They have become English words.

  4. Anschel Schaffer-Cohen said,

    February 16, 2018 @ 11:58 pm

    Is it Japanese though? It's not just English words; they've been put into English word order, and have no Japanese inflection. So these aren't English words borrowed into Japanese; it's a whole English phrase borrowed into Japanese. And it's being used idiomatically as it would by a native English speaker. The only thing that's Japanese about it is the script.

  5. Chris C. said,

    February 17, 2018 @ 12:44 am

    It *might* be Japanese. Has "ファック" become a popular street expression in other contexts?

  6. Victor Mair said,

    February 17, 2018 @ 1:24 am

    Before going any further, please read the following post carefully:

    "'Not just any sale, it's a #$&@^' sale'" (1/9/12)

  7. Victor Mair said,

    February 17, 2018 @ 8:10 am

    Also note that the pronunciation of the first part is definitely Japanese, so much so that, even when pronounced aloud or when rendered into Roman letters, speakers of English who are unfamiliar with Japanese do not understand what it means (I've tested a number of people).

    In addition, Japanese speakers who are fluent in English will pronounce fakkutoranpu ファックトランプ the Japanese way and its equivalent in English the English way.

  8. Chris Waigl said,

    February 17, 2018 @ 1:46 pm

    Well, that took me a while to decipher.

    Initially I missed that the location of the sticker wasn't located in Japan, but picked up on "gas station", so for a while I was wondering if it was signaling for some sort of access _ramp_ for seniors, but "factor ramp" made not much sense.

    And I agree that the second is Japanese, though Japanese for people familiar with US culture.

  9. Anonymous Coward said,

    February 18, 2018 @ 6:16 pm

    It is just an extended form of the bizarre online fetishism for Google Translated Japanese (as with vaporwave). Something about the phenomenon inexplicably rubs me the wrong way, but I suppose it's not different from Asia's English fetish.

  10. BZ said,

    February 20, 2018 @ 1:14 pm

    Ok, I don't understand either part (update: see below). I can't find any etymology of C-Nile. My best guess is "senile", but while that's a plausible name for a rapper, what this would denote at a gas station I don't know. As for fakkutoranpu, wait, I just got it while writing the comment (I think). I guessed the F-Word right away, but turanpu is a bit hard unless you say it really fast (or google it, now that I think about it). I wonder now if CNILE describes turanpu.

  11. Ellen Kozisek said,

    February 20, 2018 @ 7:50 pm

    BZ, it's a sticker for the musical artist, I presume. The post says the sticker was found at the gas station, not that it was put up by the gas station.

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