Funny English

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There’s plenty of comical English around this country if you care to look. And I’m not just referring to people from England. When I come across a funny sign, I’m often limited to having a little laugh by myself. That’s because explaining it to any accompanying Koreans can become a well-drawn out affair that ends in patriotic tears of rage. While I don’t think it’s particularly hindering anybody, I sometimes wonder why companies won’t just do a quick check with an English speaker before inscribing something in permanent acrylic and plastering it on a wall. A few years ago, Samsung chose the words ‘Digital Exciting’ as the company slogan for their Anycall phones. Untold piles of money were spent on getting this arbitrary double adjective on billboards around the country, before someone was nice enough to let them know that it didn’t really make sense.

There’s plenty of comical English around this country if you care to look. And I’m not just referring to people from England. When I come across a funny sign, I’m often limited to having a little laugh by myself. That’s because explaining it to any accompanying Koreans can become a well-drawn out affair that ends in patriotic tears of rage. While I don’t think it’s particularly hindering anybody, I sometimes wonder why companies won’t just do a quick check with an English speaker before inscribing something in permanent acrylic and plastering it on a wall. A few years ago, Samsung chose the words ‘Digital Exciting’ as the company slogan for their Anycall phones. Untold piles of money were spent on getting this arbitrary double adjective on billboards around the country, before someone was nice enough to let them know that it didn’t really make sense.
Since the billboards have been taken down, Anycall has remained sloganless.
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This particular piece of Konglish seems to have spread like a rogue meme throughout the country. In Korea, the plural of ‘man’ is often ‘mans’, ie. “this soup is invigorating, and good for the mans”. Most men’s room signs in Korea use the singular form, although there is usually more than one urinal. I like to entertain the idea that historically, if the first signmaker had just got it right, everyone would have copied them.
One day, when I have unlimited time and money, I intend to go around and correct all of these with polite little ‘e’ stickers. I can feel the tingles of satisfaction already.
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In Korean, the word ‘funny’ is often used interchangeably with the word ‘fun’. It’s one of those blurry lost-in-translation deals, resulting in students exclaiming to their English teachers “Teacher! On the weekend I went swimming and it was very funny!”
Laugh you may, but the tables turn when the English teachers have to explain why saying “Hmm, this old milk smells funny” doesn’t mean that it smells hilarious.
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Mother’s Finger sounds just like what you’ll get if you ask your mother to bake you a chocolate brownie.
If you have an Australian mother, that is.
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I’m not sure what it means or even how to pronounce Diget, but they don’t taste too bad. Actually the only reason I bought them was because the name intrigued me.
Ah, so that’s their marketing plan….
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This hairdressing salon, elegantly named ‘Hair the Hyun’, is on the way to Suwon if you travel from Sadang station. I’ve long considered dropping in and getting my hair cut there, just because the name is weird.
I’m not sure what my problem is.
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And you can find It’s Skin in the Gangnam area. They sell winter clothes, obviously.
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And some stores like to use exclamation marks! Regardless of whether the message is really that important!
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Look everyone, it’s our new dismal marketing ploy favourite hero, Can! Whenever you need to blast away your hunger, Can will come and dispense cold gelatinized and sterilised meats at a moment’s notice!
Who can help us in times of hunger? Can can!
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It appears that Kyobo’s number one competitor has been restricted by their own policy of stocking only one book at a time.
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You can find these gems in COEX. IL Mare is a pasta restaurant, which has various other slogans pasted on the walls for the bewilderment of diners. The food there is quite good. Tom N Toms is a coffee franchise much like Starbucks. 
Please enjoy the fresh coffee in the world.
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And these are my favourite biscuits, Binch. Although it sounds like an arbitrary bunch of consonants and vowels selected by confectionary executives, this one actually stands for ‘Biscuit and chocolate’. Genius, no? It reminds me of the amazing Family Mart Bonus, the Fonus.
Well that’s all from me this time. Ideally I’ll be spending the rest of the evening in front of the TV, munching on Binch.


1 thought on “Funny English”

  1. Awesome

    Diget = Daijae, these cookies are a knock-off of the Chinese-brand of cookies called "Digestive", which is a relatively disgusting name for cookies. It’s funny how they choose their words when they perform translations.

    Binch = the characters sound more like "Binge". I wonder if they’re implying that you should overeat these delights so that you’ll binge and eat some more.

    Keep up the good work. I’m going to Busan next week for the first time, so I’m definitely going to look out for these awesome Konglish signs everywhere.

    Reply

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