Lost in Translation

Posted by on June 20, 2008

A long time ago I had a t-shirt with some Japanese characters on the back along with a dragon graphic. I had no idea what the characters said and had honestly not given it much thought until a girl I knew who was a Japanese language instructor told me it said something really nonsensical and funny, which now escapes me. Whoever designed the shirt clearly did not get an accurate translation of English to Japanese.

Another time, we were reading the instructions for something and they said “Do not allow children to mucky-muck, owing to small parts.” Just another wacky example of inaccurate translating…

Judging by the photos below, the same could be said about translating the text and concepts on products and signs from Chinese(?) to English. Something has definitely gotten lost in the translation.

(I don’t know who to credit for amassing these pics but they appear to have come from Engrish.com, so thanks to them for the chuckle.)

If there’s one thing we don’t need help with…

Here Crippie, you can have my seat.


The dork is delicious, not too sure about the barboo…


Time Limit for Teenage Boys: 15 seconds


No breakdancing!
They should franchise in the U.S.

Where the emo kids shop…


Weird, because horsebeans sound delicious.


I wouldn’t tickle this one!
Starbucks should be very afraid…
Mother gets her anus hair done here!
TWO DOLLARS? In America, we abuse our plastic for free!
Look up and down the aisle twice before proceeding…
Much tastier that the grown-up variety…
Not nice. Some of my best friends are liquor heads.
Go over there to die, please. Thank you.
You ain’t gonna find it there, I assure you…
Sounds better than canned water, doesn’t it?

All sauces are now suspect….



  • Awesome. my mom used to work for a Japanese company, and when the prime minister died, she got a fax that the all japanese companies, schools, etc. would be closed for a day of moaning. Just picture that in your head…

  • Erin says:

    Ha Ha! Thanks for making me laugh! That’s hilarious!

  • motherbumper says:

    Hey I shop at Unsightly & Peculiar… which I guess explains a lot.

  • Kristi says:

    Oh Izzy. Thank you for that. Best laugh in a while!

  • chris says:

    My cheek and jaw muscles hurt from LMAO.

  • Mommywizdom says:

    I held tight to avoid the drop-off from my mouth!

    (Notice how they got the hyphen in there).

    I am sitting at the dining room table *working* while both my kids are sleeping. My body hurts from laughing so hard quietly! OMGosh that was soooo funny! Thank you for sharing that – you made my evening!

  • Suebob says:

    Thank you, thank you, thank you. I laughed and laughed and laughed. I nearly crapped my hands!

  • Aprylsantics says:

    Hello the Izzymom. I have found happiness. I’m unfamiliar with the tradition of assaulting drunk people with tripe until they fall, but it sounds fun. So, let’s meet up later at Turd Baby for some beers. I’ll bring the tripe.

  • Maureen says:

    Ha!!!! Those were great! Loved the “bottled” water….

  • I especially love the Starbutts….There must be some controversy somewhere for those.

    Great shots and great words wisdom..I think…

    Dorothy from grammology
    remember to call your gram

  • Jenn says:

    Omg I forgot all about Engrish.com.

    Speaking for my people…no, I can’t, there’s really nothing I can say to top all of this.

    Anyway, thanks for reconnecting me to Engrish.com.

  • Debra says:

    Wow, testes can make me (and my hubby) do lots of things, but I’m pretty sure making my heart tinkle isn’t one of them.

    But, hey, I like my horsebeans and dork as much as the next person.

    Seriously, this is one of the most hilarious things I’ve seen in a very long time–thanks for posting.

  • Mom101 says:

    Are you dissing horsebeans? I hope you’re not dissing horsebeans.

  • Very funny!!

    (crapping my hands)

  • SciFi Dad says:

    When Coke first went to China, they chose characters based on phonetics. The result? “Bite the wax tadpole.”

    When Pepsi was doing their “Choice of a New Generation” campaign, the initial versions of the ads for China or Japan were something like, “Pepsi will bring your ancestors back from the grave”.

    It’s not just asian to english…

  • kittenpie says:

    “Where the emo kids shop” – LMAO.

    God, I love Engrish.com, but had forgotten about it until I saw your headline. and did you know the translation for The Grapes of Wrath” in Japan turned out to translate back to “Angry Raisins” ? Yeah, that works.

  • So funny. i do love the engrish…and lost in translation not bad either.

    i had heard they were hoping to fix alot of the signs for the olympics. i am sure some will still slide by…bizarrre….

    love the drunkin’ walking! Awesome…

  • icek8girl says:

    yeah that was really funny. BUT i have to say that i am chinese and 12 yrs old, and it even though the pictures and the comments are funny, i have to say that i dont appreciate the comments too much.

  • Izzy says:

    I scanned the reader comments and I see nothing offensive so I assume you are referring to the comments under the photos. To that all I can say is this is a site written BY adults FOR adults. We don’t get or expect many 12 year olds around here and thus are not particularly attuned to the sensibilities of younger readers and for that I apologize.

    To be honest with you, I feel very offended when i occasionally check out some teen and tween’s Myspace sites. And Bratz dolls? Offend me to no end. Rappers on the radio that regard women as nothing but sex objects? Extremely offensive.

    The world is a pretty unpleasant place sometimes, even for old people like me. Take care :)

  • Υou’re so awesome! I do not think I have read a single thing like this before. So wonderful to discover someone with genuine thoughts on this issue. Really.. thank you for starting this up. This web site is something that is needed on the internet, someone with a little originality!

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