WEBSITE OF THE WEEK – Engrish.com
Once again, I owe my “Website of the Week” to my wife, Lori. Here is what happened:
As I sat reading the news and drinking coffee on this bright, clear, crisp Northern California winter Sunday morning,
my wife’s sudden sincere and heart-felt laughter interrupted my peace and tranquility .
I tried to ignore it. After all, I was in the middle of reading the news on my computer and drinking strong, hot, honey-sweetened coffee on a bright, clear, crisp Northern California winter Sunday morning and the last thing I wanted was for my Wa to be interrupted.
But then it happened like it always happens – my wife came into my office carrying her computer and insisted that I interrupt my sojourn into relaxation. She thrust her MacBook in front of me and gave me no choice but to look at http://www.engrish.com/.
I’m glad she did. Engrish.com is a website devoted to non-English speakers attempting to communicate with English speaking person through written messages. The results can be very funny,
but not for the reasons immediately apparent and often presumed.
The lowest form of humor is laughing at someone because they made a mistake.
It is a Schadenfreude that seems to be hardwired into every human. A slip and fall, a pie in the face or a photo of someone who inadvertently wet themselves when riding a particularly frightening rollercoaster will make any human being in the world laugh regardless of race, religion, culture, language, sexual or political orientation, or geographical location.
“Man” isn’t the animal that laughs. “Man” is the animal that laughs at errors, mistakes or misfortune experienced by others.
But that isn’t what makes Engrish.com so entertaining. It isn’t just the mistakes revealed – which are more than understandable: English is a god-awful language, incredibly difficult to use if you weren’t born into a culture speaking it.
If our non-English speaking cousins have trouble with our highly contextual pastiche doggerel/ Creole /gutter language, then it really isn’t their fault.
They are doing their best, and far better than most of us, who seem to insist they speak English if they wish to communicate rather than us learning to speak their language.
Engrish.com is funny for the mistakes it shows, but is fascinating beyond a mere laugh at the expense of others because it reveals that much of the difficulty is rooted in the inescapable fact that our non-English speaking cousins don’t think the way we do and their values are not the same as ours.
It is what they are trying to communicate more than how they are trying to do it that keeps me reading. Perhaps it will do the same for you.
This entry was posted on November 28, 2010 at 12:46 p11 and is filed under Hapax Legomenon, Internet Fun!, It's not what you think, Paying Attention, Photography, Pop Culture, Stargate Universe, The Matrix, The Wilhelm Scream, Travel, TRIPs, Website of the Week, Why do people in other countries talk funny?. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. You can leave a response, or trackback from your own site.