Hatys Harrete And Scrunckiesan

  • Fonts in Use
Fonts in Use, Oops! | Yves Peters | November 3, 2010

This post is dedicated to all my fellow non-native English speakers who are blogging in English. Sometimes we may feel insecure about not finding the correct word, or about our grammar being wonky, or about not knowing which preposition to use. So it is nice to occasionally find confirmation that, yes, it’s not that bad after all. I recently had my first live encounter with Engrish, and it totally restored my self-confidence. These photographs are from the packaging of a toy our little Nona won at a fishing game at the local fair. “This is a popular toys for the children” indeed.

Funny Colt – Collect All Them!

On the hilarious Engrish.com Engrish is defined as “the humorous English mistakes that appear in Japanese advertising and product design.” Whereas most Engrish originates from limited knowledge of the English language or automated translation, this specific example is quite peculiar. As “paries” and “kair” were used for “ponies” and “hair”, I am guessing there are two possibilities. Either this was copied from a bad quality fax with text in a system font with a single-storey “a” like Century Gothic. Or the text was digitised using optical character recognition. Both theories explain why the “o”, “n”, and “h” could have been mistaken for “a”, “r”, and “k” respectively. But that’s only half the story.

… tastefully set in outlined Clarendon and Bell Centennial with halo.

I can gather what the first two sentences were supposed to read. “There is a rainbow world where little ponies prance and play. Pony tails have shiny hair to comb and style.” But what comes after that? “(…) hatys harrete and scrunckiesan (…)”!? For the life of me I wouldn’t know what the original words were. Was the original so incredibly poorly reproduced? Or did the “copywriter” gradually become more and more confused, until he eventually gave up and freewheeled his way to the end? Who knows? Who cares? It sure made me smile.

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  1. Man… I am a native English speaker, but it doesn’t help much! Trying to figure this out is a real brain twister. I love both of your descriptions and theories of how the letters might have become transposed, confused or mutilated. I would never have thought of either.

    As for that final gobble-dee-gook… My best guess is: “Put Hats, Barrettes (small plastic clips) and scrunchies (elastic hair bands) on you and pony tails too.” But they really are cheating by leaving commas out, when the thought absolutely requires punctuation to make ANY sense!!

    What I still don’t get though… Is the horse’s name “Pony Tails”…? I don’t see that anywhere on the packaging, but that would make the paragraph read even better… (“Pony Tails [has] shiny hair…” and “[put] scrunchies on you and Pony Tails…” Either way, you’ve gotta love it.

    P.S. The hilarious train wreck that is Engrish is by no means limited to children’s toys. I recently ordered some design books from the website of the Japanese design legend Tadanori Yokoo, and every email I received during the transaction was written in such spectacular Engrish that my girlfriend and I laughed our butts off, and then actually lapsed into speaking Engrish to one another for several weeks. (…Which is telling. There’s something to be said about the integrity of a speech pattern that you feel compelled to mimic. Maybe, in the final measure, that’s the best defense of Engrish? Whatever sense it DOESN’T make, it still has music—and integrity—all its own.)

    Posted by Sergio on Nov. 3, 2010
  2. And now, as a native English speaker, I can clearly see all the typos in my previous comment….

    Posted by Sergio on Nov. 3, 2010
  3. I understand your frustration — I wish there was a window of a couple of minutes to allow you to correct any mistakes in comments on The FontFeed.

    Thanks a lot for your comment; now that last part is starting to make sense as well. I didn’t know the words “scrunchies” nor “barrettes”. I thank my English skills for playing in pop/rock bands with Brits and Americans for over 20 years. Strange as it may sound, those two words surprisingly never came up in any conversation I had with my co-musicians. ; )

    Posted by Yves Peters on Nov. 4, 2010
  4. This is a great post. I sympathize with anyone trying to learn the language. It’s horribly complex. Every rule has many exceptions. I’m trying to learn German, but I would hate to be in charge of writing copy for German toys!

    Posted by Mischa on Nov. 5, 2010

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