When it comes to Engrish t-shirts nobody does a better translation fail than the Asian market and their Engrish shirts. Think of it as marketing karma. It originated in Western countries a few years ago when it was a trend for Europeans and Americans to get tattoos of Chinese language characters. But many of the people who had it done had no idea at all what they meant. They couldn't speak or read a Chinese language and for all they knew it could be telling people to f*ck off and die. But they didn't care. It just looked cool.
Similar to this is the trend for East Asian people to wear t-shirts and shirts with questionable English (Engrish) slogans written on them. But because they can't speak English—well, presumably they can't or maybe they just want to offend people — they have no idea at all that their top is baring something at best unintelligible.
At worst totally offensive.
So children are walking around with Engrish t-shirts on that say completely inappropriate things like "F*ck You" or someone's grandma is rocking a top that says "Gangsta as F*ck."
Engrish And Poorly Translated T-Shirt Fails
Examples of Engrish.
Well, according to Wikepedia "Engrish is a slang term for the misuse or corruption of the English language by native speakers of some Asian languages. The term itself relates to Japanese speakers' tendency to inadvertently substitute the English phonemes "R" and "L" for one another, because, unlike English, the Japanese language has only one liquid consonant (traditionally romanized with "R"). The related term "wasei-eigo" refers to pseudo-anglicisms that have entered into everyday Japanese." So there you have it.
How it has crossed over into fashion retail is explained further by Wikepedia, "Engrish has been featured occasionally in the Trey Parker and Matt Stone cartoon South Park, such as the song "Let's Fighting Love", used in the episode "Good Times with Weapons", which parodies the poorly translated opening theme sequences sometimes shown in anime, and in Parker and Stone's feature length Team America: World Police where the late North Korean leader Kim Jong Ilis depicted singing the song "I'm so Ronery".
Wikepedia conclude stating how it has affected all cultures "The British fashion brand Superdry, in a reverse parody of the phenomenon, has established a style of placing meaningless Japanese text such as 'Sunglasses company' and 'membership certificate' on clothing sold in Britain. The company explained to a Japanese television crew that most translations were done using simple automatic translation programs such as Babelfish."
How Did The Whole Engrish Shirts Thing Blow Up?
The whole thing icked up a fuss online last year as kids were photographed wearing these types of tees in a mall in Luoyang, Henan in China. The kids and their parents who bought the clothes were totally unaware of what they meant. Even employees at the retailers appeared to have no idea what the Engrish words said.
Shanghaiist website reported "A local resident surnamed Guo said he was shopping with his son at the mall when he spotted a baseball cap that he thought looked good. His son wouldn't let him buy it for him, and later explained to his dad the meaning of the hat, emblazoned with the phrase "Fuck You Pay Me". When an employee at the store was asked if she knew the meaning of the words printed on the cap, she also had no idea."
Someone must know though, and they seem to be having a laugh at these shoppers' expense.
Meanwhile it seems the garments continue to be sold, not just in China but all over East Asia—and continue to be bought too. I'd love to know where i could pick some of these up. Because Engrish t-shirts are totally cool.
Check out some of our favorite poorly translated Engrish t-shirts below: