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Found in translation

Updated on September 6, 2012

Advert English

 Have you ever had an article of clothing bearing Chinese characters? Have you wondered what, if anything, those characters meant? Well, maybe looking from the reverse angle we might have an inkling.

I was lucky enough to work in Japan for a year. I kept a diary and noted some of the English found on adverts and various products. Here are a few:

A soft drink called Pocari Sweat. Never found out who Pocari was.

An advert for bread: (in capitals) OUR LITTLE FRIEND 'TOMTE' USE MAGICAL SECRET POWER FOR DELICIOUS BREAD THAT, WELL ENJOY IN THE NEXT MORNING CHILDREN WHO LIVING IN EUROPE TELL US SECRET THAT JUST BAKEN BREAD. YES-------TOMTE'S SECRET HOKUO AS BREAD COUNTRY SAPPORO IS VERY SIMILAR WITH TOMTE'S LAND. The author was ahead of the game in comparison to a lot of native English speakers in being able to use a possessive apostrophe correctly.

On a ring binder: 'It arranges various information rationally, neatly and pleasantly. It makes your office environment progressive. It makes all office workers more bright, creative and intelligent.' Powerful stuff.

Adverts on a Keikyu Line train - 'Quality Life Market', 'Dreamy Flight', 'Magnetic Joyful Toy'.

At the school where I worked there was a Bhuddist monk. He was a very calm friendly man. One day he came in wearing a t-shirt emblazoned with the word 'Bitch'.

I saw a man with either poor taste or no sense of history' certainly a tenuous grasp of aeronautical physics. On his t-shirt - 'Pilot to bombadier, target will be overhead in 37 and a half seconds.'

At a restaurant sensible instructions: Come in, have drinks, and food, and games, makes a yourself.

Behind a cook's head on a wooden cupboard - Excellent fire proof.

On a bag above a picture a sleeping labrador puppy - Don't be scared, take a sleep, lovely animals.

On a Fuji supermarket bag - 'We are determined to render with thoughtfulness and consideration thorough services to our customers and to offer a fresh and highly refined culture for living to people.' Sentiments that would be hard to find in the UK.

'You must be a dab at life'

On the paper sleeve of wooden disposable chopsticks - 'Ecology Earth Effort'

For some reason cigarette machines provoked the most poetic statements:

Smoking is a good friend of mental activities

Being free and easy, your heart makes you enjoy smoking

A figure giving off a woman's shadow

a figure being suggestive of vitality and joys

and sorrows in business

and a figure of a man working hard

are all in enjoying smoking


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    • hotspur profile imageAUTHOR


      8 years ago from England

      Cheers Tonymac, glad you enjoyed this. Thanks for comment - joy yourself!

    • tonymac04 profile image

      Tony McGregor 

      8 years ago from South Africa

      "Joy yourself" is powerful advice! And those ring binders - well! Not sure that I would want any of Pocari's sweat, though! BTW when did Rome move to Scandinavia, LOL?

      Loved this Hub, thanks.

      Love and peace


    • hotspur profile imageAUTHOR


      8 years ago from England

      Hey Mickey Dee, yes, I should get a big banner on the fridge door saying 'Joy yourself' - it's important advice ;]

      Gus, I guess your right - those drones must have made redundant a few bombadiers. Take it easy now.

    • GusTheRedneck profile image

      Gustave Kilthau 

      8 years ago from USA

      Hotspur - "Pilot to bombardier..." I liked that one the best because it is history upside down. Today they swat at you in the eastern wars from a little room in Kansas or Nebraska.

      Gus :)

    • Micky Dee profile image

      Micky Dee 

      8 years ago

      Great hub Hotspur and remember- "joy yourself".

    • hotspur profile imageAUTHOR


      8 years ago from England

      Hi Russ, I'm sure you would be able to find life empowering ring binders to enhance not only your administrative life but whole other mindsets in most department stores in Japan. They have a fantastic range of stationery and the shop assistants will be happy to gift wrap it without any selotape in a few expert folds. Cheers...!]

    • Russ Baleson profile image

      Russ Baleson 

      8 years ago from Sandhurst, United Kingdom

      Great hub, had me laughing. Please let me know where I can get a few of those ring binders! Russ


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