Sweets and snakes

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Sunny Jhutti sent in this photograph of an Indian shop sign:

The Devanagari may be Romanized as “śarmā svīṭs eṇḍ sneks”, by which they mean "Sharma's sweets and snacks".  It turns out that "snake bars" are a fairly common thing in India, as attested by this Samosapedia entry.

What I find particularly delicious is that three of the four words written in Devanagari are English, and the fourth is a typical Indian surname that you can find all over the world written in scores of different scripts.

Selected readings

[Thanks to Diana Shuheng Zhang]


  1. Ken said,

    February 12, 2021 @ 9:50 pm

    My first guess was "Sweets and Shakes". I'm not sure I would have guessed "snacks" if told to try again.

  2. Marc said,

    February 13, 2021 @ 1:24 am

    I showed the photo to my wife, and she got the right answer immediately. She teaches English as a Second Language to adults at a local community college. She said her students for whom Chinese is their first language frequently make this mistake. Doesn’t seem to matter if they speak Mandarin or Cantonese. Students from South East Asia tend not to make this error. She has had too few students from India to know. Students from other parts of the world do not either.

  3. Steve Jones said,

    February 13, 2021 @ 3:10 am

    Here I explore the possible meanings of an arcane Chinese street sign


  4. Steve Jones said,

    February 13, 2021 @ 4:46 am

    Oops, direct link here

  5. David Morris said,

    February 13, 2021 @ 4:55 am

    A story circulated in Australia during the 2000 Olympics that athletes from a variable Asian country were eating 'snakes'. Apparently a reporter asked an athlete what they were eating, and they replied 'snack'.

  6. Vireya said,

    February 13, 2021 @ 5:08 am

    After seeing an actual slithery snake in the grounds of a hotel in India, I asked the guy working there, "Are the snakes here poisonous?", and he took great offence.

  7. Ken said,

    February 13, 2021 @ 11:03 am

    That sounds like the setup for a joke. "Are the snakes here poisonous?" "Sir, this is a five-star hotel. Of course the snakes are poisonous."

  8. Ken said,

    February 13, 2021 @ 11:05 am

    Curse this l'esprit de l'escalier, and inability to edit comments. Obviously the Language Log punchline to the joke would be "No, sir, the snakes are venomous."

  9. Neil said,

    February 13, 2021 @ 6:17 pm

    I find it strange that the shop is in Calcutta ( Bengal ), but the sign is in Hindi (or at least devnagari). One would have expected Bengali.

    Despite Sharma being a Punjabi name.

  10. Andrew (yet another one) said,

    February 13, 2021 @ 9:01 pm

    I was assuming the sign referred to possibly Australia's most beloved confectionery:

  11. Chas Belov said,

    February 14, 2021 @ 1:26 am

    But people do eat snakes. I've had snake soup in Hong Kong and in San Francisco.

  12. Rod Grenwalt said,

    February 14, 2021 @ 10:03 pm

    No step on snek.

  13. Ethan said,

    February 15, 2021 @ 11:29 am

    I came across this substitution in a short story! It was depicted there as a mistake, so I was interested to see the Samosapedia entry where it is presented more as dialectal.


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