If you've ever been shopping around Japan, chances are you bumped into some "funny English" stuff. You can find these cultural gems on everything from posters and cups to t-shirts and magnets.
A recent trip to the local Don Quijote (ドンキホーテ aka "donkey") rewarded me with some awesome funny English material. If you've never heard of Don Quijote, it's a Japanese megastore that's jam-packed with random items that are equal parts useful and wacky.
As an English teacher, I really get a kick out of how English is used in Japanese design and marketing. A lot of people wear these items without having any idea what they mean!
If you can explain the meaning to them, you can consider their minds blown! If you're teaching English, you could even have your students try to understand the meaning of these hats and come up with better, more correct versions of their own.
Without further ado, here are six funny English hats to brighten up your day, make you ponder the meaning of life, and (maybe) help you solve the problems that are plaguing your life.
1. The Churchill Special
This one doesn't really have any funny English on it per say, but one of the last places on Earth one would expect to find quotes from the UK's famous prime minister, Winston Churchill, would be Don Quijote.
I wonder how the British Bulldog would feel knowing that his words are gracing the heads of his former war-time opponents.
2. A Courageous Hat
This hat falls under the existential category. Emblazoned on the hat are the words:
Due to the lack of punctuation, this can be interpreted in many ways.
For example, "the courage make moves adventures" (As in the courage goes on an adventure of making moves).
Another possibility is that it has missing words: "the courage (to) make move(s leads to great) adventures."
So is it just a random assortment of words or one of the most profound thoughts the universe as eve known? The world will just have to wait for clarification on this one.
3. Making Jamerica Great Again
This next hat seems like it'd be more at home at a Pro-America rally than a Japanese store. Maybe it's a leftover from the bromantic rendezvous between Prime Minister Abe and President Trump.
The message is clear, "Giving yourself permission to lose guarantees a loss." Truer words were never written on a hat without spaces in between the words.
The American-ish flag, with six stars and twelve stripes, that boldly graces the center of the hat cements its status as an awesome headpiece.
4. Keep Calm And English On
Next, we have yet another inspirational hat that doesn't have any errors but is still unexpected.
"Live life to the fullest and focus on the positive." I'll do my best!
5. Playing Peace Every Day
The person who created this really outdid themselves. Based on the design, I'd venture a guess that this resulted probably from the combination of a beautiful mind and Google Translate. The cursive writing and minimalist layout make this trucker hat a must-have for any season.
Trying to find the true meaning behind this phrase is a bit challenging.
In funny English, "play" can often mean "do," "make, "or "pray" (as in mistaking the "r" for an "l").
Regardless of what the idea of "playing peace" entails, doing it with "love in music" seems to be the challenging part.
6. Party Like It's 1869
Lastly, we have another piece of headgear with a simple design. The hat proudly displays the word "renowned" accompanied by three stars and the year 1869.
If the hat only said "renowned," the meaning would be pretty easy to decipher. However, the addition of the year 1869 and the word being SHOUTED in ALL CAPS brings another layer of complexity to the equation.
If you know Japanese history, then you already know that 1869 marks the second year in the Meiji Era where the shogun (aka the barbarian-quelling generalissimo, no joke) was overthrown as the ruler of Japan, the emperor's power was restored, and Japan started to trade with the rest of the world.
After researching the historical events of 1869 in Japan, who or what would be renowned from this time period remains a mystery.
Nonetheless, my working theory is that "renowned" was the most popular English word during this time and quite possibly was featured on the declining ukiyo-e woodblock prints of the time to bolster the medium's popularity. This hat was made to commemorate that occassion.
That's it for this funny English list. Which hat was your favorite? Do you agree with the meaning of these hats? Have you come across any funny English of your own? Let me know!