Contradiction in Terms
You say to-may-toe; I say toh-mah-tah. Deal with it.
Friday, September 16, 2005

The Engrish Languish

The current task that takes up about twelve hours of my day every day is translating an upcoming Korean-made computer game from "Engrish" to English. It's mind-numbing work, although replete with moments of disbelieving hilarity that, sadly, I cannot share with y'all due to the terms of our implicit non-disclosure agreement. As I snicker at the Koreanovela-class original text, however, I realize that I am, sadly, throwing stones in a glass house--i.e., the Philippines.

If I were more the litigious type, I should really sue our entire country for the obnoxious amount I am forced to spend on facial moisturizer--because I go around Metro Manila wincing all the time, assaulted by the preponderance of wholesale linguistic abuse glaringly displayed via an assortment of public media.

Some of the more offensive specimens--

on a billboard along Buendia:
"Watch every exciting details unfolds!"
K8 and me am so exciteds by these!

outside a bank in Pasig:
"This promises are protected by a security systems."
It's nice that we can feel secure about their promises, but what about the premises?

on a shop sign in Manila:
"We repaired hardwares, appliances, keys, and all kind of luck."
It's too bad that they've apparently stopped doing repair work, because my luck could sure use an overhaul from time to time.

Yes, I know that I am a language snob--in fact, I embrace it; and yesterday, I absolutely proved it.

This guy came up to me as I was walking down the street. Now normally, I do not entertain people coming up to me for a handout--not since the lady in the Podium parking lot who asked me for financial help to go home to Paranaque with her children, and was still there three weeks later! So I was all set to breeze past this reasonably-dressed but suspiciously swarthy guy, when he said, "Excuse me, may I please trouble you for some assistance?"

He then proceeded to explain, in perfect English, that he had travelled from Bulacan to visit a friend at the nearby Jollibee building, only to discover that the friend no longer worked there and no one knew how she might be contacted. To make matters worse, my guy claimed, his wallet and cell phone had been subsequently stolen. "Please understand," he said, "I'm mortified at having to do this, but I don't know how else I'm going to get home."

Believe me, I know that this was very probably the same scam enacted earlier by the Paranaque lady with the appealingly pitiful children, only more genteelly executed. But what can I say? In Popeye's words, I yam what I yam--and to me, the delight of encountering good grammar in the most unexpected of situations is worth a lousy hundred bucks.

And on the slim chance that it was, in fact, sincere, then I hope you got home safe and sound, my admirably oratorical acquaintance.
And as I bemoan the grammatical paucity of my beloved home, I am comfortingly reminded that Manila has its wonders as well as its woes. Check out my friend Carlos's blog--or better yet, try one of his "performance tours"--to see our city in a new, yet ancient light. Dean and I plan to go as soon as the battle with Engrish permits.
Nikki bit in at 2:44 PM :: ::
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