The Pig is full of Many, Many Cats
August 2, 2015 2:41 PM   Subscribe

 
Most of these are "LOL Asian," but I kind of liked "be danced, or dance." Those seem like words to live by.
posted by GenjiandProust at 2:44 PM on August 2, 2015 [13 favorites]


THINK LESS.
STUPID MORE.

write this on my gravestone with crayons lubberkins
posted by Foci for Analysis at 2:46 PM on August 2, 2015 [14 favorites]


I feel like "Think Less. Stupid More." isn't really a mistranslation.
posted by picklenickle at 2:47 PM on August 2, 2015 [8 favorites]


"I feel happiness when I eat a potato" is most certainly not mistranslated. This universal sentiment is recognizable in all languages and cultures.
posted by koeselitz at 2:48 PM on August 2, 2015 [59 favorites]


I want a "The Sexy Face: Never Stop Studying" T-shirt.

The phrase "dwarf bravery" appears twice - anyone know if it's a too-literal translation of something?
posted by Rissa at 2:51 PM on August 2, 2015 [5 favorites]




Free is free. Shit is shit. Damn!

Sounds right to me.
posted by Thorzdad at 2:53 PM on August 2, 2015 [13 favorites]


Some years ago my sister met a young woman who, after a considerable number of drinks, revealed a tattoo of some Chinese characters. She told my sister that she'd asked someone she knew at university to do a written translation of some hippy-ish, peace and love phrase or other, and then taken the results to the tattoo studio who created and inked a design based upon it.

For several years she proudly displayed her tattoo, explaining that it meant "hope, peace, love" (or whatever) whenever she was asked about it. One day, however, she showed it to someone who read Chinese. They studied it (one imagines somewhat quizzically) before asking her if she knew what it meant. "Oh..hope, peace, love" the girl replied.

"It doesn't, you know," they told her. "It says 'egg and chips'".
posted by howfar at 2:55 PM on August 2, 2015 [12 favorites]


Most of these are "LOL Asian," but I kind of liked "be danced, or dance." Those seem like words to live by.

SERIOUSLY OMG I WAS JUST COMING IN HERE TO SAY THAT
posted by nebulawindphone at 2:56 PM on August 2, 2015 [2 favorites]


Here's the thing: the tourist heavy districts of Tokyo are full of obviously fake Engrish shirts, made by people (probably Americans) who speak English well enough to know what linguistic mistakes or absurdities are amusing. Cha-ching.

At least I would think this would be obvious enough that the shirts should not be profitable, since the veil of authenticity is lifted (after all anybody can make a shirt with an incoherent caption), but apparently the Will to Believe is strong enough that some profitable fraction of Anglophone tourists will accept all LOLcrazyasian Engrish at face value.
posted by dgaicun at 2:57 PM on August 2, 2015 [9 favorites]


Alternately, Dance Or Be Danced would make a pretty killer premise for a reality show.
posted by nebulawindphone at 2:57 PM on August 2, 2015 [9 favorites]


MLKSHAE FOR BAE
posted by limeonaire at 2:58 PM on August 2, 2015


I really want that PRECISE DWARF BRAVERY shirt. I mean, look at it. Each letter R is bedazzled. It's incredible. I simply must own it.
posted by palomar at 3:05 PM on August 2, 2015 [7 favorites]


I guess my thing with these is that yeah, some of them might be absurd on purpose... But yay absurdism! It does make it better when it's unintentionally bad translation poetry, but incomprehensible absurdity is pretty greet regardless of its origins.

Yeah, "pretty greet" was a typo and was not on purpose—but when I read back over it, I realized that was kind of perfect. I appreciate weird typos, regardless of whether they're the result of a mistranslation.
posted by limeonaire at 3:07 PM on August 2, 2015 [5 favorites]


The phrase "dwarf bravery" appears twice - anyone know if it's a too-literal translation of something?

You are not alone in wondering, there was an Ask about this very phrase on shirts from last year. No definitive answer, but I liked Bugbread's honest attempt at a real answer.
posted by dawg-proud at 3:15 PM on August 2, 2015 [2 favorites]


My personal anecdotal favorite was a girl who was wearing an ersatz Givenchy shirt, except that it instead said "WENCH" in bold capital letters on the front.

I also remembered a fellow with a baseball hat that said Washington Red Sox (with the team logo). Hey, they're both East Coast American cities, what's the dif?
posted by LeRoienJaune at 3:18 PM on August 2, 2015 [2 favorites]


I also remembered a fellow with a baseball hat that said Washington Red Sox (with the team logo). Hey, they're both East Coast American cities, what's the dif?

Racism?

I'n no Red Sox fan, but, I mean, really, that is not a hard choice....
posted by GenjiandProust at 3:23 PM on August 2, 2015 [3 favorites]


Whats so fuck then, indeed.
posted by still_wears_a_hat at 3:30 PM on August 2, 2015 [3 favorites]


Free is Free.
Shit is Shit.
Damn!

New form Haiku
posted by The Giant Squid at 3:38 PM on August 2, 2015 [1 favorite]


So many potential MeFi usernames....
posted by The Whelk at 3:40 PM on August 2, 2015 [7 favorites]


When I was in Japan, I was riding the subway, and there was a woman way ahead of us in the car whose tshirt said on the back "I don't Care What You Do." And I said to my Traveling Companion "Do you suppose that's a statement of nihilism, ennui, or civic tolerance?" And the woman turned around as she was getting off the train, and the front of her shirt said "I Don't Give a Fuck" and we said "well, there is our answer."
posted by GenjiandProust at 3:41 PM on August 2, 2015 [5 favorites]


Here's the PRECISE DWARF BRAVERY question from Ask.

I too would totally rock that t-shirt with pride! I wonder if they can be got here in Australia?
posted by Philby at 3:52 PM on August 2, 2015


I still miss my green v-neck sleeveless jumper from when I was teaching in Kyushu. It was very smart apart from the big embroidered "DOPE SHIT" on the front.

In the end, I thought it just wouldn't work back in London.
posted by fizban at 3:54 PM on August 2, 2015 [1 favorite]


I think I've found the only band name generator I'll ever need.
posted by tommasz at 3:56 PM on August 2, 2015 [3 favorites]


I would proudly sport a "Chips 'n' Egg" tat.
posted by sidereal at 4:00 PM on August 2, 2015 [2 favorites]


I can be shit, Mama.


I feel like that sums up much of my adult life.
posted by nubs at 4:01 PM on August 2, 2015 [4 favorites]


Oh, and - even if you are bored - absolutely do not click on that link in their sidebar about "The Absolute Worst Pictures of Men and Cats."

Don't click on it above either. It is...disturbing.
posted by nubs at 4:06 PM on August 2, 2015 [10 favorites]


dgaicun: "but apparently the Will to Believe is strong enough that some profitable fraction of Anglophone tourists will accept all LOLcrazyasian Engrish at face value."

Well ... I have never been anywhere in Asia, and I actually just like absurdism and if I go to the "unclaimed freight" store in my midwestern city they have a WHOLE SECTION of T-shirts for $2 with bizarre misspellings and misprints and typos and transposed words and general errors that make them HILARIOUS, because at least that way the T-shirt companies that didn't notice the error until after the run started, or that misprinted someone's prom T-shirt, get $2 rather than no dollars. They also have misprinted mugs, keychains, totebags, and sometimes underwear! (I am still kicking myself for not buying a CNN totebag emblazoned "CMN." A pair of boxer shorts that have boxing gloves and say "PNUCH!" all over them continue to delight me two years after I bought them for my husband, for 75 cents. He thinks they are dumb and not funny, I think they're FANTASTIC.)

Sometimes if you go right after a big company goes bankrupt, there will be a whole table of (properly-printed) corporate-logo swag the company's bankruptcy trustee has dumped in an effort to recover at least a few pennies on the dollar for them, so you can get a Lehman Brothers beer coozy or a RadioShack employee polo shirt or whatever. I don't buy those because they're not hilarious like the misprints, but it's always sort-of interesting to look through.
posted by Eyebrows McGee at 4:26 PM on August 2, 2015 [14 favorites]


Searching for an answer to the "dwarf bravery" question led me to this page, which discusses various badly-translated t-shirts. While it doesn't bring any particular clarity to the issue, Google Translate charmingly mangles the text into a perfect object lesson.

It concludes with a wise declaration, which I think we should all take to heart: "Also, those who are thinking of buying in the future new T-shirt, those letters print design, we recommend that you try to actually examine what it means while that design also monkey."
posted by dephlogisticated at 4:36 PM on August 2, 2015 [6 favorites]


I remember walking around my neighborhood in Gwangmyeong, South Korea, and seeing a middle-aged woman in a hat that featured a heart, a cute kitty cat, and some English text.

I've always wondered if she really agreed with the sentiment it expressed:
Fuck ❤️
Get 😺
posted by charlemangy at 4:45 PM on August 2, 2015 [3 favorites]


This is definitely not just a Japanese thing, I just got back from a trip to a few Western European countries and saw multiple examples of this. My favorite was a young guy wearing a shirt with a picture of Ray Charles and the old Pepsi logo on it that stated, "You've got the correct one baby!"
posted by amelliferae at 5:05 PM on August 2, 2015 [4 favorites]


The "sexy face" one uses the North Face logo, and their tag line is "Never stop exploring" so that's probably the source.

Dwarf bravery makes me think that it's something like small, daily heroics...a one day at a time type saying but not one I can bring type mind immediately.
posted by CheeseDigestsAll at 5:17 PM on August 2, 2015


This makes me wonder about how lots of VCD translations of HK movies translated of words as "fuck"

I still don't know why that is. It recurred too much to just be random chance.
posted by Ferreous at 5:20 PM on August 2, 2015


Those are mistranslations, they are wholly unique English sentence (word, phrase) creations. There's no ur-text of correct English in the first place, hence not a translation.
posted by zardoz at 5:22 PM on August 2, 2015


CASIO: The O is for "Omelet"
posted by schmod at 5:36 PM on August 2, 2015 [15 favorites]


This makes me wonder about how lots of VCD translations of HK movies translated of words as "fuck" I still don't know why that is.

ISTR that if you're being a silly and just using a translation engine, the word for 'dry' can be translated as 'fuck.'
posted by ROU_Xenophobe at 5:46 PM on August 2, 2015


Now I want to go down the shore and open up my own T-shirt shop with nothing but these and similar phrases.

I would either go broke or own the block by the end of the summer.
posted by delfin at 5:54 PM on August 2, 2015 [1 favorite]


Whats so fuck then.
posted by signal at 6:20 PM on August 2, 2015 [1 favorite]


The best one I saw in person was this one. I walked by this couple, and the girl was wearing this shirt, and I just started cracking up. I just had to have a picture, so I went up and asked them if they knew what the shirt meant. Neither did, so I explained it, and they seemed both embarrassed and amused, and said it was OK if I took a picture as long as it didn't show their faces.

(Sorry about the resolution, but that was the top-of-the-line in cellphone photo resolution back when I took it)
posted by Bugbread at 6:24 PM on August 2, 2015 [1 favorite]


"The Pig is full of Many, Many Cats" seems particularly like a deliberate attempt at comedy from an English speaker -- it just seems too likely to be noticed, since I suspect lots of people there know the words "pig" and "cats" -- I could recognize this phrase in Spanish or French, and I don't speak either one well. Also, it's 100% correct grammar, just with nonsense nouns.

Nevertheless these are all hilarious.
posted by mmoncur at 6:45 PM on August 2, 2015


I saw a shirt on a young man in Singapore, that just said "GASSY" on it in a sort of nice font. I never found out if it was some consumer brand, "english", or a warning of some sort.
posted by cell divide at 6:47 PM on August 2, 2015 [1 favorite]


You leave that gassy young man alone, he has home problems
posted by the uncomplicated soups of my childhood at 6:55 PM on August 2, 2015 [8 favorites]


I can't help but think that the one that says "CLOCK" in huge letters and then "* over here *" underneath is some sort of clever Flavor Flav deconstruction.
posted by Joakim Ziegler at 6:59 PM on August 2, 2015 [3 favorites]


When Radiohead played Mexico City a few years ago, I still regret not getting a bootlegged Radiohead t-shirt that had a drawing of the White Stripes underneath the Radiohead logo. I have no idea what happened there in the production process, but man, I missed out.
posted by Windigo at 7:00 PM on August 2, 2015 [3 favorites]


One of my all-time faves
posted by Pallas Athena at 7:09 PM on August 2, 2015 [1 favorite]


You can go meta with shirts that deliberately reproduce a (perhaps not real?) bad English shirt, such as "Livrepol, where the Betales came form." (They added "Bootleg T-Shirt from Thailand" in German.) I saw a German guy wearing one once.
posted by dhens at 7:12 PM on August 2, 2015


I was in Japan for a few weeks a while back, and saw plenty to know that this happens, words-on-clothes-wise, routinely. If I ever felt the need to express a personal statement in a language I'm less than fluent in, professional translation by native speakers is where it's at. But, even saying that, the reading experience quelled any interest/confidence in T- shirt translations.
posted by childofTethys at 7:43 PM on August 2, 2015


I have a disturbingly large number of friends/acquaintances that would not just buy but wear a "Home of Boobies" tee. I know that makes me a bad person.
posted by kjs3 at 7:48 PM on August 2, 2015 [1 favorite]


Ferreous: "how lots of VCD translations of HK movies translated of words as "fuck""

My dad picked up a bootleg copy of the Star Wars III prequel (Revenge of the Sith) where it was dubbed into Chinese and then apparently machine translated back into English for the subtitles; "Jedi Council" was rendered as "Presbyterian Church" (literally, "council of the elders (presbyters)") and I gotta tell you, the prequels are a LOT BETTER if you always translate Jedi Council as "Presbyterian Church." WHY IS THE PRESBYTERIAN CHURCH SO DETERMINED TO DESTROY THE WEST? (West = Sith)

I did not know until just now when I googled it that it was an internet phenomenon, and now I am happy that other people got to see this terrible bootleg.
posted by Eyebrows McGee at 8:21 PM on August 2, 2015 [20 favorites]


I've got to think a fair amount of the Engrish is intentional. Hell, I know I'd rather wear a shirt with amusing Japanese or Chinese mistranslation on it than I would something straightforward. It makes people laugh, and you can be in on the joke, feign ignorance or make people wonder which. Not sure I'd go this far though.

For bad Chinese gibberish, mostly tattoos, I like hanzismatter
posted by ctmf at 8:26 PM on August 2, 2015


Pre-cell phone camera ubiquity, and I am endlessly sad I have no photographic evidence of the sweet little South American girl wearing a tee shirt boasting in big puffy, glittery letters, "Screaming wet orgasm".
posted by msali at 9:04 PM on August 2, 2015


I don't know how many cats there are in the pig, but there's at least one in the goose.
posted by mikeand1 at 9:31 PM on August 2, 2015 [2 favorites]


I already said this on Facebook, and koeselitz has pointed it out above, but I do feel happiness when I eat a potato.
posted by trip and a half at 9:53 PM on August 2, 2015


ctmf: "I've got to think a fair amount of the Engrish is intentional."

I'm gonna have to disagree. Stuff that consists of parodies of real brands (the North Face one above, countless Nike and Adidas and Puma stuff) are taking the piss, and I think the Engrish is either intentional or in service of a pun or culturally specific joke. But 99% of the Engrish shirts are not parodies, they're just bad Engrish. And the reason I don't think it's intentional is that the cheaper the clothes, the more likely they are going to have Engrish. The Engrish stuff isn't found alongside humorous Japanese t-shirts, it's found alongside regular clothes, and the more poorly made and unfashionable the clothes, the higher the likelihood of Engrish.

I think, in these "big cheap mass production design" companies it comes from the companies 1) producing a really high volume of cheap crap, so double-checking would involve some workload, not the kind of thing you could ask an acquaintance to do for free, 2) not having the money to pay a native English speaker to check their stuff, and 3) just plain not caring.

And for companies other than "big cheap mass production design", I think a lot of it is due to the Dunning-Kruger effect.
I've made corrections on clothes that were being designed by an acquaintance because I happened to be in the office when he was creating the design. It never even occurred to him to ask me, despite the fact that we were on friendly terms and I saw him like once a week. He figured his English was okay, and he wasn't writing anything particularly complicated, so there was no reason to get someone to check it. I wouldn't be surprised if a lot of the slightly-bad Engrish stuff came about in the same way.
posted by Bugbread at 9:56 PM on August 2, 2015 [2 favorites]


ISTR that if you're being a silly and just using a translation engine, the word for 'dry' can be translated as 'fuck.'
posted by ROU_Xenophobe at 8:46 PM on August 2


Whoa. THIS just got about 431 times more hilarious for some reason. I wonder if they're even aware, considering the entire schtick they got going.
posted by mcrandello at 10:07 PM on August 2, 2015 [1 favorite]


mcrandello: "Whoa. THIS just got about 431 times more hilarious for some reason. I wonder if they're even aware, considering the entire schtick they got going."

While I can't rule it out, I highly doubt it, as Superdry's shtick is about bad MT Japanese and "dry" and "fuck" are unrelated in Japanese. It's one thing for some man-on-the-street to mix up Chinese and Japanese, it's another thing for a company whose core identity is "Japanese text on clothes!" to mix them up.
posted by Bugbread at 10:25 PM on August 2, 2015


Ah, somehow I missed that the ROU was talking about HK subs.
posted by mcrandello at 11:09 PM on August 2, 2015


Here's some more info from the always-interesting Language Log on the dry/fuck mistranslation.
posted by corvine at 2:29 AM on August 3, 2015 [1 favorite]


I definitely have to disagree with the notion that bad English on shirts is meant for tourists, unless tourists have been the target audience of Jacks, Right-Ons, and various supermarket clothing sections throughout rural and suburban Japan where I've lived.

A decade ago, I bought a shirt that I found at a department store in suburban Osaka that had, on the front, a line drawing of an American-style shopping cart, with a circle around it that said (inside a break in the circle) "what?" The back said "riding in such a going out how how" (which made for the perfect opportunity to refer back to the front).
posted by DoctorFedora at 4:42 AM on August 3, 2015 [3 favorites]




I was wondering if this made the jump to tattoos- the anti-hanzismatter.
The only one I could find was beyond fake.
posted by MtDewd at 4:54 AM on August 3, 2015 [1 favorite]


Oh, and - even if you are bored - absolutely do not click on that link in their sidebar about "The Absolute Worst Pictures of Men and Cats."

Oh my gosh, sorry for the derail, but this photo in that series is Canadian actor Mike Smith in character as Bubbles from Trailer Park Boys, one of my favorite shows.

If you're not familiar with it, here's the Season 8 trailer (NSFW language).
posted by Short Attention Sp at 5:10 AM on August 3, 2015


I was wondering if this made the jump to tattoos- the anti-hanzismatter.

Hanzi Smatter occasionally features bad English tattoo on Asians (for balance, I suppose). There are also occasional gems in the comments (a tattooist wrote in that the majority of people getting kanji tattoos are in the shop on a whim and don't want to spend much money, so they pick a kanji or two because that's cheap, and there is really no reason why a tattooist would spend any time getting good at it, and the people who are really serious about it seek out one of the few tattooists who actually specializes in kanji (the tattooist did not explain why they were willing to do something they treated with contempt, but that's capitalism, I suppose)).
posted by GenjiandProust at 5:49 AM on August 3, 2015


Metafilter: I love

Marmoset
Edelweiss
Torque
Ambergris
Fantomas
Illness
Tambourine
Eat
Rapscallion
Metafilter
posted by Naberius at 6:33 AM on August 3, 2015 [1 favorite]


I'm sitting here at work and I'm so glad it's Monday and almost everyone is teleworking so no one heard me guffawing out loud at

THINK LESS
STUPID MORE
posted by numaner at 7:51 AM on August 3, 2015 [1 favorite]


Dunno exactly why but it occurs to me now to ask:

"Exactly how does one suck a fuck?"
posted by Insert Clever Name Here at 9:19 AM on August 3, 2015


It's like sucking a kiss, only more thorough.
posted by nebulawindphone at 9:26 AM on August 3, 2015


Also, if you're going to wear a shirt, in public, you have a responsibility to do some basic due diligence.

My Ég tala ekki íslensku t-shirt really does say I don't speak Icelandic. I looked it up.
posted by Naberius at 10:26 AM on August 3, 2015


"I think I've found the only band name generator I'll ever need."

tommasz, Mitch Easter and Let's Active beat you to that idea by about 33 years. But it has legs, sure.
posted by JimInLoganSquare at 11:33 AM on August 3, 2015


Huh. I always thought that band's name sounded like one of these but figured that it couldn't have possibly been. I should have gone with my first impression.
posted by tommasz at 1:30 PM on August 4, 2015


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