Humor of Fractured English in Japan

Humor of Fractured English in Japan is adapted from, a humorous book by David Sedaris: ‘When You Are Engulfed in Flames’.

Here is an excerpt from the chapter The Smoking Section, pages 290-291:


Given the state of my Japanese it seems unfair to criticize some of the English I’ve been seeing. (in Tokyo, Japan)

A sign outside a beauty parlor reads

“Eye Rash Tint,” (for Eye Lash Tint)

and instead of laughing, I should give them credit for at least coming close.

What gets me are the mass-produced mistakes,

the one made at Lawson, for example. A huge, nationwide chain of convenience stores, and this is what’s printed on the wrappers of their ready-made sandwiches:

“We have sandwiches which you can enjoy the different tastes. So you can find your favorite one from our sandwiches. We hope you can choose the best one for yourself.”

It’s not horribly off the mark, but still you’d think that someone, maybe someone in management, might say, “I’ve got a cousin who lives in America. What do you say I give him a call and run this by him before we slap it on tens of millions of wrappers?” But no.


Among Hugh’s birthday gifts were two handmade teacups I bought at Mitsukoshi, a department store.

Included in the box was a profile of the craftswoman, who has, for many years, been enchanted by

“the warmth of Cray.”

I thought that this was another craftsperson, the beloved Cray-san, but Hugh figured out what they meant to say was


The sentence in its entirety reads,

“With being enchanted by the warmth of Cray and the traditional of pottery over the period so far she is playing active parts widely as a coordinator who not only produce and design hers own pottery firstly but suggest filling Human’s whole life with fun and joyful mind.”


A booklet in our hotel room includes a section on safety awkwardly titled

“Best Knowledge of Disaster Damage Prevention and Favors to Ask of You.”

What follows are three paragraphs, each written beneath a separate boldfaced heading:

“When you check in the hotel room,”

“When you find a fire,”

and my favorite,



Further weird English from our trip:

On decorative paper bags a person might put a gift in:

“When I think about the life in my own way I need gentle conversations.”

On another gift bag:

“Today is a special day for you. I have considered what article of present is nice to make you happy. Come to open now, OK?”



Link to buy David Sedaris' humor book: 'When You Are Engulfed in Flames' from

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