I’ve been living in Korea for over 5 months now, but the English translations can still make me laugh out loud. Walking around, you see a surprisingly large amount of English printed on t-shirts and signs, but very little that makes any real sense. Hence the term Konglish! Konglish technically means words in the Korean language that are basically English words, but most foreigners have adopted the term to mean hilarious translations of Korean phrases into English as well.
I have noticed that most of my students use Naver translation services (Naver is basically the Korean Google) to translate words into English and the results are almost always bizarre or too formal. By contrast, typing the same word into Google usually gets a more accurate translation. As an example: on Naver, the result was “refractory” but on Google the result was “annoying”, which is what the student meant.
I can only assume that the thousands of Korean t-shirt companies are also using less-than-ideal translation software to come up with the gems that they do. All of the phrases listed below are taken verbatim from store names, poster slogans and of course, the infamous t-shirts. Anything that looks like a typo or grammar mistake on my part is not – all are written exactly as they were originally seen.
Ps. In case anyone is worrying – I truly am not meaning to make fun of anyone Korean in posting this. In fact, I think most Koreans who have a grasp on English would also find these shirts and slogans absolutely hilarious. Not to mention that I don’t think it’s a reflection on Korean people if they don’t understand that these sayings are funny. I live in Korea, the language is Korean, and English is not overly important here, nor should it be. All this is to say: take it lightly, the way I do! It’s not a reflection on anyone Korean.
- Hot Dog Fighters
- Be classy with eye gentry
- Baby Café
- N. Hollywood I Am
- Play wave athletic sportive
- How to Slake Summer Festival
- Holy chic, try popular new things
- Play with me joy
- Zombie nation eats your hard
- Venereal disease
- To the Difference
- Kitsch Something
- Grand Open
- Fashionabl stylemixpink
- Beard Papa’s
- New Paradigm Party Restaurant
- Let’s Party Time
- Love Ritual Hoegaarden
- Jerry is the natural leader
- These sailing crews will explore the Atlantic
- You’re nothing but a pack of cards
- Lady yourself more
Funny, right? They always put a smile on my face, especially when I spend time thinking about what the original Korean phrase could even have been before it was translated. Some of them just seem like a graphic designer threw words together that looked cool, and others I just laugh and think that there must be a native English speaker at a desk somewhere giggling as they design gibberish phrases for the fronts of t-shirts.