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Saturday, May 12, 2001

JAPAN LITE

Newcomer's guide to interpreting Japlish


English can be seen and heard all over Japan. However, the meaning of the English isn't always obvious. Here is a list of Japanese-English words and phrases explained.

"No Step Bus" (seen on the sides of public transit buses): This means, do not step in front of this bus as it can be hazardous to your health.

"Fast Food, Fast Women" (written on the front of a menu at a restaurant): People no longer have the time to eat or meet women. At this restaurant, you can get them both to go. Fast.

"Aero" (seen on a schedule for exercise classes): Although aero appears to be an abbreviation for aerobics, it really means "arrow," a class where the students exercise while learning Japanese archery. The target is the teacher, who wears a shield and deflects the students' arrows.

"Bokuryevurodanoruxmsan" (shouted by women with shrill voices behind the counters at banks or post offices): After the tenth repetition, you realize that what they're calling out is your name.

"Work man ship cooker" (sign on door of a restaurant): This means "The chef here cooks ships."

"Close" (sign in store windows across Japan, before 10 a.m. and after 7 p.m.): It means you're too close to the door: back off!

"Lusty" (a well-known brand of children's clothing): This is a classic Japanese "l" and "r" error. The clothing company's name is really "Rusty," referring to the clothing's ability to rust onto your child so you never have to change his clothes.

"Tooth brushig sink" (a sign in a dental clinic): At first, this appears to be an innocent spelling mistake. But if read backward by a dyslexic, it spells "gishurb thoot," Dr. Seuss' cousin, who is a dentist in "Whoville."

"Fun! Car! Go!" (a new model of Toyota): This is the new way of teaching English to drivers, especially those who learned English with the old Dick and Jane grammar books, by learning "Run, Spot, run!" This is the only English that drivers respond favorably to.

"Order stop" (said by waiters and waitresses at closing time): A new type of diet restaurant that decides when you've had enough to eat.

"She'll be one of your closest friends" (on a hosiery package): This is the "make friends with hosiery" campaign. Join the perfect support group for the friendless.

"Sanitary shorts" (on packaging for underwear sold in the convenience store): This is the politically correct word for underwear. "Underwear" is now considered a derogatory term for garments that have a "kohai" (subordinate) relationship with friendly hosiery.

"Smokin' clean." (signs in public places throughout Japan): The slash and burn technique for getting rid of litter.

"For enjoy natural color and your best scene own" (front of a photo album): Means, "For best results, store in a cool, dry place."

"Come join the Rapid Party" (on photo album illustrated with dogs): Means "Signed photographs of Fido inside."

"Pocket Progressive English Dictionary, Hello Kitty Edition" (the real name of a dictionary): Contains various translations of "meow" from English to Japanese. Includes bonus translation of "The Three Little Kittens who Lost their Mittens."

"Let's go to my bag" (on a poster at the dry cleaners): A pick-up line for fleas.

"Sports Music Assembled People" (the words behind the acronym SMAP, the name of Japan's biggest pop band): Obviously, they meant "Safety Music Also Pets."

"I wish to fall in happy drops on your head" (on a birthday card): The words to the karaoke version of "Rain Drops Keep Fallin' on my Head."

"For your heartful life" (on a poster advertising an English language school): This is a Japanese-English language school to learn the erroneous grammar and verb-twisting necessary to create Japanese-English slogans for products. Mission statement: "To fulfill heartful English lives so people can gentle mind and more very enjoy Japanese English. Also pets."

Visit the Japan Lite home page at www.amychavez.com or e-mail comments to: amychavez@mailexcite.com


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