Broken English

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This sign in Kyoto is meant to say "authorized people only"

Broken English, or Engrish [1] is a variant of the English language by people who do not speak English very well.

The term may refer to spoken English, and it can also describe written English. In Japan, it is common to add English text to items for decorative and fashion purposes.

The term Engrish first appears as an Asian mispronunciation of the word English in the 1940s. It was not until the 1980s that it began to be used to as a byname for defective Asian English.[2] The related term "wasei-eigo" means made-up English words that have entered into everyday Japanese.[3]

Broken English can be found in East Asian countries, and also many places in other places where a lot of East Asians live. Broken English has been found on many things from poorly translated signs, menus, and manuals to strangely worded advertisements, food items, and strange t-shirt slogans. Broken English also sometimes happens when a word or sentence is badly translated on the Internet.

Related pages[change | change source]

References[change | change source]

  1. The name "Engrish" comes from the fact that some languages, such as Japanese, do not have separate sounds for "R" and "L".
  2. Lambert, James. 2018. A multitude of ‘lishes’: The nomenclature of hybridity. English World-wide, 39(1): 12. DOI: 10.1075/eww.38.3.04lam
  3. A helpful overview on the Japanese language is: DeFrancis, John 1989. Visible speech: the diverse oneness of writing systems. Honolulu: University of Hawaii Press, p131–143.