Yes Is Be My Answer

As the old joke goes, someone who speaks four languages is quadrilingual, a speaker of three languages is trilingual, someone with two languages is bilingual, and someone who knows only one language is an American.  To continue, there’s a stereotype that Americans don’t need to learn another language because everyone speaks English – and if they don’t, they should.

While I am an American (but I’m bilingual so don’t shoot me!), I don’t necessarily believe everyone should speak English.  In fact, Engrish has provided me with some of my fondest travel memories.  The signs posted on my dorm in Hangzhou were a bit rough, but they were good for a chuckle, and sometimes our Chinese friends wore shirts that left us either doubled over in laughter, or scratching our heads trying to make sense of the phrase.

Because Hong Kong was under British rule for so long, I figured there wouldn’t be too much Engrish around – but I was pleasantly mistaken.  The translations on signs and menus were fine (albeit a bit formal), but fashion….oh, the fashion.  There was plenty of Engrish to go around, and what was even better were the shirts with incredibly random lists and graphics.  They might have been grammatically correct, but they were so odd to me…


Yes, that says New Hauen. With a “U” instead of a “V.” Can’t win ’em all.

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While the sartorial purchases I made were tame and (gasp) normal (a New England Patriots long sleeve shirt, and two scarves – one with lobsters and one with seahorses), I had to talk myself out of buying some of the others.  Just for the looks I’d get at home if I wore it out.  Like I said, one of the best reasons to go to Hong Kong is for the shopping.



  1. This is hilaaaaaaarious! OMG I would have bought the most Engrish t-shirts, and then have people stare at me to figure out what the hell they mean. Shockingly enough you dont encounter a whole lot of those in Russia!

    1. You know, if I could go back and do it again, I’d a) have a working debit card so I could take lots of money out of the ATMs, and b) just buy the stuff I thought was crazy and fun. I guess c) buy the cute things that I can hang onto and give as gifts, but mostly a) and b). Because who doesn’t need a shirt that has the Mao hat, the Mao stars, and Obama’s face?

      1. lololol
        you know, I ALWAYS have the ‘didnt buy enough’ remorse when I travel – bc I want to save money and luggage space and it all seems silly, but then I get home and I’m like WHY DIDNT I GET THOSE COLORFUL FLUTES IN PRAGUE???? OR 3 for 10 quid TOPS IN CAMDEN???

      2. For me, I couldn’t remember my debit card pin. So I couldn’t take money out, and I didn’t want to do cash advances on my credit card. If I could rewind a few weeks, I’d probably take out way more than $1500 HKD and I’d go to town 🙂

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