Hong Kong English: Weird and wonderful

The standard of written English in Hong Kong varies widely. At one extreme it is hardly recognisable as English at all. T-shirt designers are common culprits - here's an example modeled by MrsB:

It's just a rough copy of an image and text, made in a T-shirt factory somewhere in Southern China. But then the wearer is not expected to be able to read it, so no problem there. English is also widely used on the covers of notebooks for students. In theory they will be able to read it, so this time the designer must go to the trouble of buying a dictionary. The two samples below show the spelling has definitely improved, but the meaning ...

Unfortunately, "good" English is often more painful to read than bad. Here's a piece of flowery marketing babble on a local handout -- take a look at the cover and see if you can guess what they are selling ...

Try the text on the inside -- does that help ?

Looks like good stuff -- is it religion ? A self-help course ? Unfortunately not, just a brochure from the same company that insists on sending me Chinese-language-only advertising through the mail ...

There are more examples of creative English here.


Less is less

Building hoardings are another source of unusual English, with a speciality in creative interpretation of their surroundings.

The hoarding around the construction site at 60 Victoria Road leads with the heading "Less is more", and continues with:

- Less uncertainty, more education
- Less extravagance, more enjoyment
- Less pollution, more nature

Huh? That last point is especially optimistic, given that the building lies between a large bus terminus and what is lovingly known as the "Island West Transfer Station". (Where all the local trash gets squished into containers and shipped to the New Territories.)


T shirts, the other side of the coin

Walk down any London high street today and you will notice the flip side of this. Gwailo and gwaipaw sporting everything from tattos,jewelry and T shirts with badly formed, miss shapen Chinese/Hanji characters,sometimes haphazardly thrown together to form meaningless combinations. Or as in the case of the Spice girls "female strength" tattoo combinations that have meanings other then what was intended.

I guess that in all this, what seems and looks to be right, is more important than spending the effort to get things right. :)

Is that a loh-baak in your pocket ... ?

I got a chuckle yesterday while helping my brother-in-law prepare an English version of his CV. He produced a letter in English from his previous employer, certifying that he was their "Chopper No. 1".

He's a chef.