Fell the force


Engrish, the whimsical term applied to poorly-translated or downright bizarre English used in non-English-speaking countries, is not restricted to East Asia, although the most well-known examples certainly come from there.

While in Lisbon, I saw someone wearing a t-shirt that said Fell the force.

Comments (27)
  1. Nathan_works says:

    Is that mistranslated or poorly spelled ? (I’m reading it as "feel the force" eg Luke)

  2. Coppertop says:

    Perhaps the person was indicating that he destroyed the force.

  3. Kip says:

    I think "Engrish" is associated with Asian languages because native speakers often have trouble pronouncing the English "L" sound.

    There are two other common variations-

    Spanglish is poorly translated from Spanish (or a dialect of English which includes many borrowed Spanish words).

    Frenglish is the same but for French.

    I don’t think there’s a specific word for mistranslated Portuguese though..

  4. Mikkin says:

    Saw this exchange recently on a technical bulletin board:

    "You know as it is the league to lower for <product>."

    "I am not sure if I understand your question."

    " ‘Where I can find the link on <company> Net to download <product>?’ "

  5. AsmGuru62 says:

    This may be very well translated as: "Been with Luke on a mission to destroy the Death Star!"

  6. Qian says:

    I believe Japanese in particular has little distinction between the "r" and "l" sounds.  I remember reading somewhere of a Japanese linguist who likes to joke that everyone in Japan is paying close attention to the American presidential erection.  Mandarin Chinese does have distinct "r" and "l" sounds, but they don’t sound quite the same as they do in English.

  7. Eric Duran says:

    I’m gonna have to disagree with Kip and I’ll say that Spanglish is a entirely different animal on its own.

    The first variation of Spanglish would be the one where the root of a word would come from English, but the ending will follow Spanish rules.

    The other variation would be the one where (proper) English and (proper) Spanish are mixed on the same sentence.

    The last variation would be the one where native English speakers translate native (American) English expressions or perform a word-by-word translations of an English sentence, which sometimes yields very bizarre Spanish statements.

  8. manyirons says:

    "Frenglish is the same but for French."

    Around here (Ottawa) we call it "Franglais".

  9. Gabe says:

    I want to know if there’s a name for the seemingly random sequences of CJK idiographs that Americans like to have tattooed on their bodies.

  10. Shog9 says:

    Nathan_works wrote:

    Is that mistranslated or poorly spelled ? (I’m reading it as "feel the force" eg Luke)

    I’m assuming that t-shirt was intended to be a goad to environmentalists, reading "Fell the Forest!"…

  11. Robert says:

    Mr Gabe, there is apparently such a name.

    http://www.hanzismatter.com

  12. Yury says:

    Frenglish is the same but for French.

    There’s also Runglish (for Russian) and

    Finglish (for Finnish).

  13. Sinan says:

    My favorite from Turkey is

    <b>We have a Fish!</b>

    on the window of a fish restaurant in Bodrum in August 1988. I guess it went to the highest bidder ;-)

  14. Jim says:

    This is a perfect english from the Pentagon: “re-energize surrogates and message-force multipliers,”. Anybody wants to guess what that means?

  15. Ugo says:

    I think "Engrish" is associated with Asian languages because native speakers often have trouble pronouncing the English "L" sound.

    Funny… in Italy, when we mock Asian people, we do the other way around, pronuncing "L" instead of "R".

  16. GreaseMonkey says:

    Funny… in Italy, when we mock Asian people, we do the other way around, pronuncing "L" instead of "R".

    It’s usually to mock the Chinese. The Japanese tend to say the "R" instead of the "L".

  17. Mr Cranky again says:

    Maybe the T-shirt was using the archaic adjective ‘fell’.  So it was poetically saying that the Force was Fell.  It was a fell force.  

    Most people think only a swoop can be fell these days.

  18. Guilherme says:

    Don’t worry, that’s only the Portuguese.

    You know, they’re quite stupid….

  19. Anon says:

    One of my Thai friends got me a T shirt with a picture of a tiger on it and the caption "CAT LIKE MAD GRRR". Mind you it’s getting quite hard to find stuff like that now, I guess a very small number of English speakers is enough to correct T shirts.

  20. FavoringCurry says:

    Soon after I moved to Bangladesh, I saw a sign in front of a shopping mall: "Grand Opening! You are mostly invited!" That raised a difficult question — should I go or not?!

  21. Name required says:

    I want to know if there’s a name for the seemingly random sequences of CJK idiographs that Americans like to have tattooed on their bodies.

    Of course there is: stupidity.

  22. Mr Cranky says:

    Re Japanese:  There is no ‘R’ or ‘L’ sound in Japanese; there is only the ら り る れ ろ sounds.  These are voiced with a tongue position that is more-or-less halfway between the L (front) and R (back) sounds of English.  Except for very accomplished non-native speakers, this Japanese sound is substituted for both L and R, and due to the way we hear, it often sounds like the other one.

    Conversely, if you learn Japanese, you will likely never pronounce ra, ri, ru, re, ro sounds properly, and rya, ryu, and ryo are even harder.

    It seems that learning tongue manipulation is best done before the age of 5 or so.

    Disclaimer:  I’m *not* an expert on Japanese.  Merely an occasional student of.

  23. Bill Bryson’s book "Mother Tongue" has a chapter all about poorly translated English. A lot of the time it’s done simply because English sounds "Exotic" and the quality of translation is less important. Bizarrely, some of these mistranslations have made it into the markets in Camden!

    A lot of Americans and Brits could walk into a Chinese restaurant full of banners in Chinese making fun of English speakers, and they wouldn’t notice. They’d just think it looked "artistic".

    From my experience, Franglais is simply the appropriation of (correctly spelled) English words into French. eg: "Tu veux me visiter le week-end prochain?" ("Do you want to see me next weekend?")

  24. danb1974 says:

    I have a small massage device which according to the label "gives you a pleasant fell". Still figuring out how to obtain it :)

  25. mare says:

    And then there’s also denglisch ;)

  26. GreaseMonkey says:

    I want to know if there’s a name for the seemingly random sequences of CJK idiographs that Americans like to have tattooed on their bodies.

    There was a news article about someone being given a chinese tattoo by their lover, supposedly a sign of undying love. The person later found out it read "supermarket".

  27. Lucas says:

    I got the chance to visit China last winter. It was a beautiful trip, full of interesting English translations. "X-mas Merry" was everywhere, hotel signs banned both "whores and prostitutes". For my personal favorite, go see the pandas at the Beijing/Peking zoo:

    "Please don’t cross any railings lest suddenness happens!" … indeed.

    BTW, in Latin America: portugués + español = portuñol

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