Thursday, July 12, 2007

Wasai---Meaningless English words

When I was fresh from the states I was surprised by how much is written in English here in Taiwan. As a native English speaker I often got a laugh from some of it, especially if I just didn’t get it. It was funny to me because there are many native English speakers in the immediate area, and any of them could have given the author of these English things a hand to fix those little problems. But instead they often just figure it out on their own, and are left with a concoction of words that falls a little short.
It’s true that I get a kick out of the English maladies because they are often silly, but I also was amused because it got me wondering what a Taiwanese student visiting America would think about the Chinese writings we have in America. It is often popular for Americans to use Chinese on a number of things because the characters just look so cool. For example, many of my friends who can’t speak a word of Chinese have tattoos on their bodies written in Chinese characters. They like them because the Chinese written langue is beautiful and intricate. But sometimes I wonder just what does their body art really mean. I have been told by some of my Chinese friends in America that often they see tattoos with bizarre or meaningless phrases. And when they had first got that tattoo I’m sure there were quite a few Chinese people in the area they could have asked. But perhaps in the states no one they know will ever really know what that tattoo really means, and they probably just don’t care. And likewise, I suppose few foreigners will read these signs in Taiwan, and most really don’t care either if the spelling is off.

Submitted to Wasai Taiwan by: Ryan Barber (Hsinchu)

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