Weird Al gave us a song, and now Red Rocket Farm has given us… an official piece of art! Hey, if states can have Official Everythings, so can we.
Fundamentally, my red-pen-y-ness is about one thing: my love of words. It’s also about my love of order, I guess, or my deep-seated desire to control things that ought to be easy (apostrophes) in a world full of things I can’t control (my sock drawer). But so much of my rage at poor writing comes from the joy I feel when exposed to good writing.
Words are beautiful. For example: Tintinnabulation. I’m sorry that word was ruined for you by your high school English teacher, but try to move past that for a minute: tintinnabulation. It’s a word that means “the ringing or sound of bells,” because we needed a word for that. It was entirely too much effort to say “the ringing or sound of bells” — and also, when you have something as beautiful as the ringing or sound of bells, it deserves its own word, you know?
So anyway, I love words, and when I encounter a word that I’ve never really thought about before I’m a happy camper. And if it’s a niche word that would have to be used in a very specific context to really work, and is being used in that context properly… well then.
So here you go, Dear Readers. Your Friday Moment of Awesome.
Today’s picture is a perfect example of what I mean about language translation leading to whimsy. There’s nothing wrong with this sign. There isn’t any reason why I couldn’t open a bakery right here in my own fair city and name it “Lovely Sweets.” I probably wouldn’t, though, and I can’t even explain why… unless my last name were “Lovely,” which it isn’t.
There’s nothing at all wrong here, and somehow it’s just delightful.
I haven’t gotten to go anywhere exciting in a long time. (No offense, Curaçao! You’re the best!) But when I do travel, I’m a big fan of stopping at places exactly like this one. I’d just go in and eat whatever I could point at. For what it’s worth, this culinary strategy serves me well most of the time!
This is my blog. I pay to maintain it, and while it’s not a huge sum of money, it’s probably ridiculous given what I get out of it. So I’m going to experiment a little with what goes on here, because I can, because see previous sentence.
THIS WEEK, I intend to post five of my favorite pictures from my father’s recent trip to India. My dad and I have similar senses of humor, and as I browsed through his eleventy gazillion photos, I giggled several times.
Please note that these are NOT giggle-worthy because I’m mocking people whose first language isn’t English. It’s always tough to explain exactly what I mean when I say that some signs are just fun. Even when their authors are native English speakers, some signs just end up creating a sense of delightful whimsy — or panic — or expressing huge levels of frustration. Whatever it is, the sign communicates more than just information, and I like to stop and look at it. And it’s true that when one learns a foreign language, one can sometimes create perfectly legitimate, communicative sentences that are nonetheless delightful, whether because they’re unintentionally funny or because of idiomatic usages or, yes, because they’re just so oddly wrong that they’re funny.
So before I start out my week of Delightful Signs From Dad’s Trip, I’m going to get the ball rolling with one of my own. I may have mentioned or even posted this before. I wrote it, but in my own defense it was before I had studied Mandarin, and therefore before I knew anything at all about stroke order or… anything, really. I found myself living in a long-term hotel in Beijing with basically no Chinese language skills at all. My colleagues in the hotel told me they were getting soap daily as part of their room-cleanings, but I hadn’t been. So I decided to set out to ask, as nicely as I could, for soap, from the nice cleaning people who always managed to come when we weren’t around. I’m not even sure this sign is comprehensible. But here you go, it’s below, because I’ll put my money where my mouth is.
Okay: and also because I don’t feel like telling several of the other stories of linguistic mistakes I’ve made!
Speak Mandarin? Feel like telling me what this actually says (if it’s even legible?) Bring it on!