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Friday, May 13, 2011

No wonder my Mandarin sucks...

...what with all these distractions around:

While having dinner at Yoshinoya 吉野家 on Tuesday, I looked up at a sign on the wall. Starting from the right were three vertical rows of Chinese characters, but it was the fourth column at the far left that caught my eye: 新朝食を食べましょう, "Let's eat a new breakfast". Am I the only one who notices this kind of stuff?

I'm not sure what to make of this sign. 竹風 in Chinese is chú​fēng, but according to the hiragana 平仮名, it should be read as takekaze たけかぜ. But what about 食堂, which is a common compound often seen in Japan (it can mean "cafeteria", "restaurant" or "dining hall"), and is pronounced in Japanese as shokud​ō? Seeing as there isn't any furigana 振り仮名 for this one, am I to assume that the name of this establishment is "Takekaze Shí​ht'áng​"?

I just hate it when I'm passing by an unassuming tea stand, only to notice at the last moment something unusual written in small characters in a corner of the sign. What's even more annoying is discovering that an important message such as the one here (that this one of a kind most original flavor will enable me to give priority to a lifestyle of environmental protection and human health) is buried deep in the fine print.

If I were a Taiwanese person who couldn't understand Japanese, I wouldn't know what was unique about J950 jeans. As an American whose Japanese isn't bad (but not great, unfortunately), I don't know what is special about these jeans, either. Oh well, they probably wouldn't fit me anyway.

Some signs don't care whether or not you can read what they say. They're just too big to ignore, confident that people will be drawn inside the premises to have a gander at what's on offer (for the record, it says "Perfect evolution", and obviously refers to the most advanced stage of development that has been reached in the evolutionary history of luggage. This suitcase most definitely has not been intelligently designed).

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