“Engrish” in the Media — Grave Mistake or Clever Marketing?

Source: http://img01.thedrum.com/s3fs-public/drum_basic_article/85389/main_images/fuckin%20sale.jpg

(Warning: parts of this post may contain strong and/or explicit language)

Yesterday, when I was browsing the internet in search of useful articles for a term paper, I came across an interesting and funny blog (or rather “brog”) called Engrish, which deals with the phenomenon of the same name. For those of you who now ask themselves what Engrish is (it is not a typo), I have copied the definition from the respective article from Wikipedia:

Engrish (/ˈɪŋɡrɪʃ/; Japanese: [ĩŋɡu͍ɽiɕːu͍]) is a slang term for the misuse or corruption of the English language by native speakers of some East Asian languages. The term itself relates toJapanese speakers’ tendency to inadvertently substitute the English phonemes “R” and “L” for one another, because, unlike English, the Japanese language has only one alveolar approximant, (traditionally romanized with “R”). The related term “wasei-eigo” refers to pseudo-anglicisms that have entered into everyday Japanese.
While the term may refer to spoken English, it is more often used to describe written English. Engrish can be found in many places, including signs, menus, and advertisements. Terms such as Japanglish, Japlish or Janglish for Japan, Konglish for Korea, and Chinglish for China are more specific terms for Engrish.”

In addition to this, I would like to show you some actual examples from the website:

Source: http://www.engrish.com/2012/12/if-you%E2%80%99re-happy-and-you-know-it/
Source: http://www.engrish.com/2010/01/diarrhoea/
Source: http://www.engrish.com/2012/11/having-a-party-tonight/
Source: http://www.engrish.com/2013/06/oh-to-be-a-male-scholar/
Source: http://www.engrish.com/2014/05/looks-legit/

As you can see, Engrish can be found on different kinds of products (and in the media), thereby representing a certain company and its people.

Why is this happening?

To be honest, I think it’s for the same reason that people from Western countries get tattoos of Japanese Kanji on their bodies or wear clothes from the brand Superdry: in order to be extravagant. In Asian countries the use of English is also considered fashionable, which is why companies often feel obligated to utilise it, even though they might not have qualified personnel.

What are possible consequences?

In terms of marketing: foreign tourists are more likely to buy a “wrong product”, because it is funny, new and unique to them, whereas natives buy it for the reason mentioned above.

In terms of the language: the media spreads incorrect English and EFL learners will pick it up and use it in their everyday life, thinking it is correct. This could lead to misunderstandings and embarrassing moments.

For that reason (and this goes for western countries, too), I think that those responsible should pay attention to what is written on products and what is presented in the media. If they can’t do it on their own, they should get the help of a native speaker!

What do you think? Have you ever come across Engrish?

Thanks for reading and if you liked this post feel free to crap…erm clap your hands! :)