Miles from Home

China Commentary– Youthful Musings on the Environment, Culture & Development

Chinglish Fashion

with one comment

The bastardization of English is ridiculously common in this country. This is a nation where image is everything, and anything that Americanizes you– whether it is a white boyfriend or a trendy t-shirt– really goes a long way for your “face.” There is a term for this absurdity: Chinglish. It refers to the bizarre hybrid of outcomes when Chinese products utilize English words and phrases, with little to no understanding of the language. In Taiwan, it is quite common to see Chinglish phrases and knock-off emblems on clothing. Misspelled words, jibbirish– so long as it is English, it is in-fashion.

This leads to some outrageous comedy. A personal favorite anecdote? A friend told me of a female coworker whom he had taught with many months back. This timid Taiwanese kindergarten teacher had worn a t-shirt with five large block letters on the chest. A bold print, displaying the word: “WHORE.” She had no idea what it meant. This went on for some time apparently. Finally, after nearly bursting in laughter each time she passed, he had to tell her. This was no easy decision. Young Taiwanese women tend to play quite shy, especially about anything pertaining to sex. Her English clearly was not up to par, and thus he had to explain what the word “whore” meant in euphamisms and body language. That awesome relic of Chinglish history is now likely gathering dust in some strange closet.

Some other recent knee-slappers:

1. I had a mother come into school to pick up her 10-year old child wearing a shirt that said, “Only users lose drugs.” Classy, mom.

2. An unknown brand attached the slogan “Too Drunk to Fuck” on all of its clothes. I have seen prepubescent teens walking the sidewalks of main avenues wearing items smeared with this horror. My roommate is also known to wear a pair of pants with the phrase on a small patch around the pocket… while he teaches. Don’t ask.

3. Marijuana plant leaf symbols are the rage here. Marijuana, however, is not. It is very rare and therefore quite expensive, putting it out of reach of the common Taiwanese. This has not stopped its proud green leaf from branching and budding in the fields of famous fashion. I have seen people aged 10-45 wearing print logo shirts that babble some incomprehensible sentences superimposed over huge pot leaves. I saw a woman today in my landlord’s office signing her new rental agreement proudly sporting a shirt that said, “100% Yummy” over a large five fingered flower.

100% absurd.


Written by Miles

June 11, 2007 at 5:03 am

One Response

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  1. Its crazy how well Americanised the world is,people are so in love with American popular culture that they do not think it through.I was one of those people mentioned in Chinglish Fashion.I used to think everything American was great until I learnt about how Nike used to exploit people to make the sneakers and clothes I loved.

    I think many people outside America think America is Hollywood,they don’t see the downtown ghettos in Detroit or Chicago.They don’t see the struggle of the blue collar worker.

    Its just Paris Hilton and the likes,nothing else and thats why someone can wear a shirt written Whore.

    100% ABSURD FOR REAL!!


    June 15, 2007 at 11:33 am

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