Writing is Difficult. But When English isn't Your First Language, it's Even Harder. And Hilarious.
Open the menu and hilariousness ensues! Thank you, English menu-writers of the world, your translations brightened my travels.
Carpenters work in wood. As a PR professional, I work with the written word. Words and sentences are my worksite construction materials. So I have a great appreciation when I read an especially pleasing op-ed or book, just like I’d enjoy seeing a meticulously crafted armoire from an elder Amish cabinet-maker. Conversely, I also get a kick out of seeing the failed efforts -- the composed mistakes that read like a college student’s disastrous afternoon with an Ikea cabinet kit missing three screws.
Traveling around the world this past year, I’ve seen plenty of indecipherable attempts at the English language, but a few amazingly failed translations really warrant special attention. (And some of these writers didn’t even get it wrong, but they still read funny to Americans, so they made the cut.)
And I’ll still give these writers credit — unlike me, they can at least put ink to paper in a second language in a way that can be understood, even if it’s misunderstood to comedic effect. Kudos to you, Peruvian menu writer and Cambodian sign author. You brightened my day.
Embracing Cheese - San Jose, Costa Rica
I get you, wheat tortillas. Sometimes I want to embrace cheese, too.
Yummy Thing - Cusco, Peru
Sure, Jack, I’m betting you probably know what you’re doing. So mix up that thing and make it yummy.
Tit’s Shop - Hanoi, Vietnam
Blatant false advertising.
Also, as you can see, you can find Tit’s Shop on Facebook, but I wouldn’t try searching for it on a work computer.
Husband Day Care - Bali, Indonesia
It takes a village.
Pork Boobs - Tokyo, Japan
I wonder if you can get these at Tit’s Shop.
Munch Nuts - Goa, India
It's like a Whatchamacallit Bar, only with peanuts and a vague feeling you're being insulted.
Very Goob - Cusco, Peru
I am not interested in eating the best cook in Cusco, I don’t care how “goob” this food is.
Rio Terra Dei Assassini - Venice, Italy
This street sign, loosely translated, is something like "Place of the Assassins." Maybe this shortcut isn’t a good idea?
Bland - Aegean Airlines, Greece
Nothing says delicious airplane food like choosing the “bland” meal option. It was either this, the “lackluster pasta,” or “meh vegetarian.”
Prawn cocktail - Athens, Greece
Species - Lima, Peru
My seafood accompaniment needs to be more specific than “species.” “Excuse me waiter, can I also wash this meal down with an unidentified liquid?”
Breakface - Cusco, Peru
You want food this morning? How's 'bout I gives ya a knuckle sandwich to the kisser instead?
Monkey Rules - Bali, Indonesia
So many rules. Don’t scream or run, or look the monkeys in the eye. Ok now that you’ve put this in my head it’s really gonna be hard when the monkeys jump on me, not to scream and run.
After reading this list I decided the name of this place should be “Monkey Forest of Your Nightmares.”
And here's what happens when you don't follow the rules: