The Misuse of Chinese Characters in Western Culture

It’s time for us Westerners to wipe the smirk off our face, we’ve been sniggering at Chinglish for far too long. With the rise in popularity of Mandarin as a second language, and the general idea that Chinese and Japanese characters are “cool”, it was inevitable that we’d start to see these ancient characters misused in all sorts of ways.

Hanzi Smatter, the blog “dedicated to the misuse of Chinese characters in Western culture”, has been going for some years now, but this is the first time it has been mentioned here on ChineseHacks. The blog features user submitted photographs of strange Chinese language tattoos, signs, t-shirts and more, complete with the deciphered translation, most often gibberish or offensive, of the Chinese characters.

Here’s a few of the more interesting examples:

痔 “hemorrhoid”

Discover Your Corpse

发现您的尸体 “Discover your corpse”

Free Ride Hard Model
“Free (of charge) ride hard model”?

If you find any particularly funny examples post a link in the comments.

3 responses to “The Misuse of Chinese Characters in Western Culture

  1. Awesome post! ‘Nuff said. Weirdest thing where I’ve seen westerners misuse Chinese characters was a couple of months ago where I spotted a tattoo on a guy’s arm that read: 不管鬼 – to this day I can’t figure out what this is supposed to meaning or why anyone would want to tattoo something like this on their arm. Although I do remember, I guy in my school used to wear a shirt that read 笨蛋 – a student from Japan who know Mandarin later took pity and explained the meaning of the characters. Back then it wasn’t as funny as it is now that I speak Mandarin myself.

  2. Dave,

    No need to publish this comment, you’re missing an “f” in “off” in your lead-in sentence:

    “It’s time for us Westerners to wipe the smirk of our face…”

  3. I see a lot of the reverse also going on in China (at least where I am at). Everywhere I look, I see odd English words – usually on t-shirts and often making little or no sense.

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