Wednesday, May 5, 2010

Carmen's Contribution

I thought you guys did a great job of laying out your research in a detailed and highly organized manner. You defined what Engrish is very thoroughly and using examples was very effective. I liked how you talked about the cultural misunderstandings between two cultures when you gave the example about the 'happy grass'. I look forward to seeing whether or not your hypothesis about the Engrish being more divergent in smaller establishments is true or not. I have certainly encountered my fair share of Engrish in many Chinese restaurants in Calgary. Some great ones being 'Mini Stone Soup' and 'Ham Bugger.' Having a LOLPoints grading system is very fun and imaginative. Engrish seems to be something that isn't exclusive to just Japanese, but any language when it is used to serve a purpose for a foreign language. Perhaps by using Japanese as a case study or example, your group could draw a conclusion on misinterpretations and Engrish globally? 

Your project also looks at how effective language has been used to communicate an idea to a certain number of people. Maybe also look at who these Engrish objects are aimed or targeted at? For example, many emergency signs at hotels in Japan feature mistranslated English which becomes Engrish. When aimed at tourists or native English speakers, that sign in question is no longer very effective at conveying a message and could, in fact, become a safety hazard, because important information is not given correctly.

Your project also examines how culture has been transferred from one culture to another. In this case, Western, American, English or North American culture to Japan through language and how the Japanese have adapted English or foreign languages into their own language and therefore, culture. Perhaps you could also give a brief summary into the history of Katakana words or the English language entering Japan? It would provide a great historical context and also say a lot about how internationalized the Japanese language is, with words like パン for bread, coming from the French word pain for bread. Katakana utilizes not only English words, but also French and Portuguese etc. You could talk about the foreign influence on Japanese through Katakana since it originated as a way to translate Buddhist texts from India.

Lastly, perhaps the funniest use of translation I have seen occurs in pirated DVDs from China where movies are filmed in a theatre in English and then English subtitles are added and the translations are utterly nonsensical and communication is completely degraded. Is this a phenomenon in Japan as well? Do they have poorly translated movies and TV shows? Perhaps while you're in Japan you could find a movie and watch to see if the Japanese or English is translated correctly? It's certainly another facet of Engrish on a grand scale. 

By Carmen Siu

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