Engrish prus

« previous post | next post »

Hit the Engrish mother lode.  What an incredibly bountiful harvest!

We've ignored this (ig)noble variety of English for too long.  There are scores and scores (nay, hundreds) of wonderful examples on the Facebook group Engrish in Japan, which you may explore to your heart's content.  Since some of the posts cycle through multiple items (e.g., in the comments sections), they seem almost endless (I read them for hours).  For this post, I will focus primarily on a recent item, which is about onsen 温泉 ("hot springs" [and bathing facilities]) etiquette, but will also mention many others.


You can read for yourself what the English says.

The Chinese is awkward and quite wrong in places, so not really translatable into idiomatic English, but it says something like this:

Wèile yùpén de biānyuán jíhé qǐlái, zuò zuò, xiánliáo de shì cháng shíjiān néng tíngzhǐ ba.


"In order to gather at the edge of the bathing tub, may we request that you might refrain from sitting affectatiously, chatting, etc. for a long time."

The Korean is clearer, but is completely different from the English and the Chinese:

gin meolikalag-eun gomudeung-eseo mukkgo naseo mog-yogtang-e deul-eogabsida

긴 머리카락은 고무등에서 묶고 나서 목욕탕에 들어갑시다

"Let's enter the bath after tying up long hair with a rubber band."

Even if we triangulate from the three languages, it is not easy to determine exactly what the original Japanese must have been.

Instead of feeling hurt and frustrated at your lack of comprehension, scroll down through the whole long collection and savor the likes of barking dog in a gauge, takeaway onry, flight topping, refleshing drinks, hand dreys, stinking (sweet) potatoes, making your little happier, garbage that should be put out on the day morning lest a "complaint is coming" from a neighbor, multipurpose restroom that is suitable for everyone, congraduation Dr. XXX, unpossible me fail English, slowly please relax tooth brush, talk together with fun (tray liner), how to wear a yukata 浴衣 ("bathrobe") that wants to bow, viewed look, Food is always good Anyone Anytime Sentence morning truck, Ehtering a Mask (in 9 languages with many errors), sporky bike decorations, harf a century celebration for a shopping street, bicycle parking lot for the stuff, Blooming ASSE Spring Style, Merry Halloween (appropriate for the season), Potato cannot sell in Other than who live in Okinawa, Pain is nourishing, Please do liquidation in each floor, Sorry if you can't hear well, Smoking Ava lablele @ Back Yard, every 9 minutes a rough time ago., Melon Musk, NO THE SOUND OF NOISE, Beer & Riquor, PANCAKE IS A WEAPON, Noncomburnable Garbage, New SenseiTion, MAG (= mug), Snack like Grilled Intestine Salted Garlic Sauce Flavor, zero hair, Covid-19 Vakzin, BUROKKORI (with a picture of broccoli), mayonnaise freak seasoning, Do not through, ULTRA PIG BONE NOODLE, Seasoning Ingrediences, PAIN APPLE TEA, TAPING TAPE, T BORN STEAK (multiple instances), Unauthorized Persons Only, FLOG (= frog) and so forth and so on, and several that are too salacious to print here, but hilarious nonetheless.

A few for special mention:

Don't put a bicycle

When placing without notice,
it removes promptly and it
report to the police.


The trash box is on your foot. (illustrated)


The gray pavement adopted for this road reflecting solar heat and controlling the road surface temperature rise makes the road cool and cozy.



The Scenery



(OHIO brand t shirt)


In particular, Shiga-hane glutinous rice which is silky, stiff and tenacious, is a high-end brand that is highly regarded as the finest glutinous rice, and its smoothness is suitable for feather double names.






Restroom is not in


Woo-hoo! I have room for dessert!

I am not a glitton I m an explore of food


Intestinal activity sandwich set


It doesn't put it in this.


Ability & Assure



teishi-chū 停止中 (STOP IN)     should be "out of service"


Please do not finger the peaches.     (at multiple locations)


NO SMORKING    (at multiple locations)


Smorky flavor




A typhoon is approaching Okinawa.

We are sorry for the inconvenience that we

might cause you, but I hope you will accept this.


Cycle Hunger      (bike rack)


Be sandwiched in and is careful


Lever putty      (liver pâté)


Please pay

Perm' s brunch                 (yashi ヤシ = palm [tree])



kitsuensho 喫煙所 ("smoking area")

Smoking Elia


ORIGINAL BLAND             (coffee)




bōhan-yō 防犯用         (for crime prevention")

Rabbery Alarm


noboranai のぼらない ("don't climb")

Don't claim


Keep stay at all times!


Disuku toppu PC     (written in both katakana and kanji; should be romanized as "desuku toppu PC")


There is no point.

If you touch this area, this message will disappear



How is a snack

at the snack at

a mid-afternoon snack?


Please do not

Throw away irrelevant

Garbage It is!!


This is the entrance

I can't leave.       (multiple occurrences)


MULCH-PURPOSE     ("multipurpose")

RESTROOM        (see above)


[at an izakaya 居酒屋 (informal Japanese bar) in Dontonbori (Osaka)]

komochi shishamo こもちししゃも

Chinese:  háizi de gǒu shǐ 孩子的狗屎

English:  Children's Shit


komochi 子持ち

(of a fish) containing roe (eggs)

shishamo ししゃも / シシャモ / 柳葉魚


1. shishamo smelt (Spirinchus lanceolatus) ​Usually written using kana alone. From Ainu “susuhamu”

Wikipedia definition

2. Shishamo ​is a saltwater fish about 15 centimeters in length.


Engrish is every bit as exuberant a variety of English as Chinglish.

Selected readings

[h.t. Victor Steinbok; thanks to Joonyoung Lee and Qingchen Li]


  1. Philip Taylor said,

    October 9, 2022 @ 2:56 am

    May I ask, Victor, which element(s) of 为了浴盆的边缘集合起来,做坐,闲聊的事长時間能停止吧 you rendered as "affectatiously" in English ? I had not previously encountered "affectatiously", although I was vaguely aware of "affectatious", and have absolutely no idea what its equivalent might be in MSM.

  2. Victor Mair said,

    October 9, 2022 @ 7:28 am

    @Philip Taylor

    Thanks for asking.

    The Chinese is a god-awful mess, so I had to reflect that — at least partially — in the English translation.

    zuò zuò 做坐 (lit., "do-sit") makes no good sense as is, but is probably masking an intended homophonous zuò zuò 做作 ("affectation"), so I invented "affectatiously" to match that discrepancy.

  3. Victor Mair said,

    October 9, 2022 @ 7:32 am

    From Haewon Cho:

    The text says:
    긴 머리카락은 고무(rubber)등에서(eseo, in) 묶고 나서 목욕통(small bath tub)에 들어갑시다.
    gin morikarageun gomudeungeso mukkko naseo mogyoktonge deurogapssida

    This sentence is not grammatically correct and should be changed to:
    긴 머리카락은 고무줄(elastic band) 등으로 (euro with) 묶고 나서 탕(public bath tub)에 들어갑시다.
    gin morikarageun gomujul deungeuro mukkko naseo tange deurogapssida

    Literal translation: As for long hair, tie up your hair with rubber (elastic band), etc. and let's enter the bath tub.
    Translation: Those with long hair should tie up their hair with an elastic holder before entering the bath tub.

  4. Victor Mair said,

    October 9, 2022 @ 7:34 am

    From Inkyeong Chung:

    The following romanization is based on the revised romanization of Korean.

    Romanization: Gin meorikarak-eun gomudeung-e-seo mukko naseo mokyoktong-e deul-eo-gab-shi-da.
    And here's a breakdown:
    Gin (hard g sound) = long
    meorikarak = hair
    eun = topic marker
    gomu = rubber ; deung = 1) a person's back, 2) lamp ; gomu deung = rubber back? rubber lamp? No such word exists.
    ehseo = at, on, in, from
    mukko = tie
    naseo = and then
    mokyoktong = tub
    e = to, on, in
    deuleoga = enter, go in ; gabshida = let's go ; deuleogabshida = let's go in

    Literally, it says "let's tie up long hair at/from the gomudeung and then enter the tub." It is an awkward imperative sentence, but one can roughly understand it as saying "tie up long hair with a rubber band (aka elastic hairtie) before entering the tub."

    If I could rewrite the sentence, I would replace the "gomu deung e-seo" (at/from the rubber back) with "gomu jul ro" (with rubber band) and "deul-eo gab-shi-da" (let's go in) with "deul-eo ga-ju-se-yo" (please go in).

RSS feed for comments on this post