Restaurant Engrish

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“Lie Fallow” means “in your spare time, without a prior appointment” in Engrish.

Everybody loves Engrish, the surreal dialect of English found on signs, in menus, on clothing etc. in the Far East. Much of it seems to stem from blind over-use of dictionaries, where the non-Anglophone user picks one of the possible translations of a term at random. Here are a few examples I’ve caught recently at restaurants.

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i-e3cde64696f287003c1689138f3a63a7-Wet new lores.JPG

The breakfast menu at our hotel in Hecheng had some fine variations on rice porridge and its condiments.

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i-b7549416186742ac97c12bc2da9863b5-Porridge kind lores.jpg

i-66bae5bd562f9007a8e08a0d129c03cf-Porridge theme lores.jpg

Comments

  1. #1 Phillip IV
    June 9, 2011

    I like ‘with the theme of porridge’. Sounds like something a lawyer came up with: “Calling it ‘porridge’ could be construed as a claim that our product actually qualifies as such without reasonable doubt. I see a liability risk here. Can’t we use something more non-committal, like porridgoid or porridge-themed?”

  2. #2 Martin R
    June 9, 2011

    Indeed! Though that sign sat behind cold dishes intended as condiments for porridge. “Porridge peripherals”.

  3. #3 paddy
    June 9, 2011

    So no porridge substitute or “I can’t believe it’s not porridge”? I’m disappointed.

  4. #4 The Phytophactor
    June 9, 2011

    Took a picture of a great sign in SE Asia – The Hilarious Institute of Clincal Technology. I thought it was funny too.

  5. #5 Lars Aronsson
    June 9, 2011

    In Swedish, I think “lie fallow” translates to “ligga för fäfot”, so this could theoretically be the name of dishes based on the feet of various animals.

  6. #6 Tobias
    June 9, 2011

    You can also find funny translations closer to home. Some of my favourite ones come from a restaurant in central Kiev. There you can choose between: “Crispy shrink”, “The salmon under the blanket”, “Bloater”, or “Salad for the ladies who are willing to stay in shape” :)

  7. #7 Hercules Grytpype-Thynne
    June 9, 2011

    As the music swells, we see a panoramic vista of the Austrian Alps. The camera zooms in on a pretty dirndl-clad maiden (played by Julie Andrews) who joyously opens her mouth to sing:

    The hills are alive . . .
    with the theme of porridge . . .

  8. #8 Steven Blowney
    June 9, 2011

    “With Theme of Porridge” makes me wanna order that “Szeschwan Style.” :)

  9. #9 dustbubble
    June 9, 2011

    “Hydrophobic fattened when” is transcendent, quite beautiful.
    I’m racking my brains for which modern poet it’s a quote from.

    Did Brion Gysin or Burroughs ever live in China? Would explain a lot.

  10. #10 Martin R
    June 9, 2011

    *high-fives Hercules*

  11. #11 Ted H.
    June 9, 2011
  12. #12 SM
    June 9, 2011

    I feel guilty enjoying other people’s bad English, since as I’m a prosperous Anglo my skills in other tongues are limited. But I think I could do better than that after a year of German or three of Latin. All related languages, but still …

  13. #13 KA
    June 9, 2011

    You can find those things *way* closer to home. A restaurant in Stockholm recently offered “meat paragraphs” (köttstycken) on their website among other delicacies. They seem to have fixed that one but left “the bar is as always stuffed with a massive amount of digestif´s.”

  14. #14 Birger Johansson
    June 10, 2011

    (OT) I recommend the blog Mask of Eris, by a Finn matematician. Martin, you could almost be joined at the hip (apart from the gender, and the choice of science).

    Archive for the ‘Lovecraft’ Category
    http://masksoferis.wordpress.com/category/lovecraft/
    Excerpt: “We of the Cult of Luv-Keraph believe that understanding is evil, and illumination not self-negation but self-abuse; and thus we abstain from learning, and urge you all to do likewise

    God all over the place:
    http://masksoferis.wordpress.com/2011/06/09/god-all-over-the-place/
    Excerpt “As God is defined to be the most perfect being, if He exists, He must exist everywhere. Either He is nowhere — or He is everywhere. (Also, since it is better to have an ugly nose than no nose at all, God has a nose.)”

  15. #15 Martin R
    June 10, 2011

    He’s been a pretty regular Aard commenter since June 2008! I’ll add his blog to my feed reader.

  16. #16 Kaleberg
    June 10, 2011

    You left out the perennial favorite: “Translation server not available”.

    There’s a Chinese dish in the US called “ants climbing tree”. (I have no idea of the original Chinese name, possibly it means something like “ants climbing tree”.) There was a hilarious post back in the 70s when some Chinese food lover tried to order “fourmis qui montant l’arbre” from a Chinese restaurant in Paris. “English As She Is Spoke” came out in the 1880s.

  17. #17 dogteam
    June 13, 2011

    I’m OK with “Lie Fallow”. It’s the “Sock” part that I find disturbing.

  18. #18 Tsu Dho Nimh
    June 24, 2011

    I didn’t think to take a picture of the menu, but one Korean restaurant was offering a sandwich of “Flaming chicken tits”.

    The picture showed a rather ordinary broiled chicken breast sandwich.

  19. #19 elke
    July 16, 2011

    I like the wet new modern age dining room. Who wants to sit in a dry one anyways :) Practical too, in the case of floods and heavy rains.

  20. #20 Sonia
    November 17, 2011

    When I was in Thailand the menus were exactly the same. The Thai translations into English were terrible!

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