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English Must Be Difficult!


If you grew up speaking English, be glad you did! The English language has so many subtle shades of meaning and idiomatic expressions, that people learning English as a second language have a really tough task. When we anglophones learn a foreign language we get a glimpse into how hard it is to master the intricacies of another language. When we anglophones try to teach our language to non-English speakers, we find many aspects of our language difficult, if not impossible, to explain.

I have made some horrible mistakes in French, German, and Chinese which usually resulted in laughter followed by an explanation. Such experiences are humbling, to say the least, but they have provided great opportunities to laugh at myself and to empathize with my students as they struggle to make themselves understood and as they make funny mistakes themselves. I'm sure that, as people from all over the world converge in Beijing for the Olympics and as they try to use Chinese phrases they've been memorizing, they will make some great mistakes. One of my best mistakes was when I was trying to tell someone I was from America (Mei Guo - roughly pronounced may-gwa) which in Chinese means literally "Beautiful Country." (Keep in mind that Chinese is a tonal language, that is, a change in tone often changes the meaning of the word.) When I pronounced it, though, I got the wrong tone on the second part of the word and said I was from "beautiful melon." I really think that some Chinese people just don't like my tone of voice.

That said, I am posting today some great examples of English mistakes or oddities from other countries. No one country or language is alone in finding English difficult!

English Must Be Difficult...

In a Tokyo Hotel:
Is forbidden to steal hotel towels please. If you are not a person to do such thing is please not to read notis.

Instructions in a Belgrade elevator:
To move the cabin, push button for wishing floor. If the cabin should enter more persons, each one should press a number of wishing floor. Driving is then going alphabetically by national order.

A sign in a Bucharest hotel lobby:
The lift is being fixed for the next day. During that time we regret that you will be unbearable.

In a Paris hotel elevator:
Please leave your values at the front desk.

Sign in a hotel in Athens:
Visitors are expected to complain at the office between the hours of 9 and 11 am daily.

In the lobby of a Moscow hotel across the street from a Russian Orthodox monastery:
You are welcome to visit the cemetery where famous Russian and Soviet composers, artists and writers are buried daily except Thursday.

On the menu of a Polish hotel:
Salad a firm's own make
Limpid red beet soup with cheesy dumplings in the form of a finger
Roasted duck let loose
Beef rashers beaten up in the country people's fashion

Outside a Hong Kong tailor shop:
Ladies may have a fit upstairs.

In a Rhodes tailor shop:
Order your summers suit. Because is big rush we will execute customers in strict rotation.

On the box of a clockwork toy made in Hong Kong:
Guaranteed to work throughout its useful life.

From the Soviet Weekly:
There will be a Moscow exhibition of arts by 150,000 Soviet Republic painters and sculptors. These were executed over the past two years.

In an advertisement by a Hong Kong dentist:
Teeth extracted by the latest methodists.

In a Swiss mountain inn:
Special today - no ice cream.

In a Czechoslovakian tourist agency:
Take one of our horse-driven city tours - we guarantee no miscarriages.

In a Copenhagen airline ticket office:
We take your bags and send them in all directions.

On the door of a Moscow hotel room:
If this is your first visit to the USSR, you are welcome to it.

How a sewage treatment plant was marked on a Tokyo map:
Dirty water punishment place

In a Budapest zoo:
Please do not feed the animals. If you have any suitable food, give it to the guard on duty.

In the office of a doctor in Rome:
Specialist in women and other diseases

From a story in an East African newspaper:
A new swimming pool is rapidly taking shape since the contractors have thrown in the bulk of their workers.

In the window of a Swedish furrier:
Fur coats made for ladies from their own skin.

Sign in a Vienna hotel:
In case of fire, do your utmost to alarm the hotel porter.

Sign in a Hong Kong supermarket:
For your convenience, we recommend courteous, efficient self-service.

In a Tokyo shop:
Our nylons cost more than common, but you'll find they are best in the long run.

From a Japanese information booklet about using a hotel air conditioner:
Cooles and heates - if you want just condition of warm in your room, please control yourself.

From a brochure of a car rental firm in Tokyo:
When passenger of foot heave in sight, tootle the horn. Trumpet him melodiously at first, but if he still obstacles your passage then tootle him with vigor.

Detour sign in Japan:
Stop. Drive sideways.

Sign in an Austrian hotel catering to skiers:
Not to perambulate the corridors in the hours of repose in the boots of ascension.

An Italian hotel brochure:
This hotel is renowned for its peace and solitude. In fact, crowds from all over the world flock here to enjoy its solitude.

Menu at an Athens hotel:
Chopped-up cow with wire through it (shish kebab)

A Polish tourist brochure:
As for the tripe served you at the Hotel Monopol, you will be singing its praises to your grandchildren as you lie on your deathbed.

Two signs from a Majorcan shop entrance:
- English well speaking
- Here speeching American

4-star toilet

fall carefully please

please die elsewhere

practice dog etiquette

dont fall down

monkeys in the forest

offer your seat to the needy

Chinese Olymepic Cmmittee

begin with me

no stuff only

very suspicious market

wealth dream

And here's one that we've been told about and have suspected was true all along...

hot dog

Have you seen any examples of English obviously written by a foreigner?

By the way, this Friday is an Ultimate Bonza Bottler Day - 8-8-08!

quotation...

"If it's big enough to make me worry, it's big enough to take to God." - Dr. Drew Conley

=^..^= =^..^=
Rob

Did ancient Roman paramedics refer to IV's as "fours"?

Please Follow the Destructions!


We live in such strange times! There are many people looking for any possible reason to sue someone, even for problems caused by their own idiocy. In hopes of having some legal straw to grasp in the event of a potential lawsuit, many manufacturers now put the weirdest directions and disclaimers on their products. Today's instant vacation is a list of some of those disclaimers on products. Be sure you read this in a place where you can occasionally laugh out loud.

Absurd product warnings and instructions

On a cardboard windshield sun shade:
Warning: Do Not Drive With Sun Shield in Place.

On a blanket from Taiwan:
Not to be used as protection from a tornado.

On a helmet mounted mirror used by US cyclists:
Remember, objects in the mirror are actually behind you.

On a Taiwanese shampoo:
Use repeatedly for severe damage.

On the bottle-top of a flavored milk drink in the UK:
After opening, keep upright.

On a New Zealand insect spray:
This product not tested on animals.

In some countries, on the bottom of Coke bottles:
Open other end.

On an infant's bathtub:
Do not throw baby out with bath water.

On a package of Fisherman's Friend(R) throat lozenges:
Not meant as substitute for human companionship.

On a disposable razor:
Do not use this product during an earthquake.

On a handgun:
Not recommended for use as a nutcracker.

On a piano:
Harmful or fatal if swallowed.

On work gloves:
For best results, do not leave at crime scene.

On a blender:
Not for use as an aquarium.

On a microscope:
Objects are smaller and less alarming than they appear.

On children's alphabet blocks:
Letters may be used to construct words, phrases and sentences that may be deemed offensive.

On a wet suit:
Capacity, 1.

On the Washington Post:
Do not cut up and use for blackmail note.

On a child's Superman costume:
Wearing of this garment does not enable you to fly.

Once you've read the instructions on a box of Pepperidge Farm frozen raspberry turnovers, it's too late to obey them:
Preheat oven to 475 degrees F before taking package from the freezer.

For incorrigible narcissists, Conair offers this safety tip with its blow dryers:
Never use while sleeping.

On a bag of Fritos:
You could be a winner! No purchase necessary. Details inside.

On a bar of Dial soap:
Directions: Use like regular soap.

Some Swanson frozen dinners:
Serving suggestion: Defrost.

On a hotel-provided shower cap in a box:
Fits one head.

On Tesco's Tiramisu dessert:
Do not turn upside down. (Printed on the bottom of the box.)

On Marks & Spencer bread pudding:
Product will be hot after heating

On packaging for a Rowenta iron:
Do not iron clothes on body

On Boots children's cough medicine:
Do not drive car or operate machinery after taking this medication

On Nytol (a sleep aid):
May cause drowsiness

On an American Airlines packet Of nuts:
Open packet, eat nuts.

On a Korean kitchen knife:
Keep out of children

On most brands of Christmas lights:
For indoor or outdoor use only.

On a Japanese food processor:
Not to be used for the other use.

On Sainsbury's peanuts:
Contains nuts

On a bottle of Palmolive dish washing liquid:
Do not use on food.

On a tube of Crest Toothpaste:
If swallowed contact poison control.

On a bottle of ALL laundry detergent:
Remove clothing before distributing in washing machine.

On a packet Of Sunmaid raisins:
Why not try tossing over your favorite breakfast cereal?

On a Swedish chainsaw:
Do not attempt to stop chain with your hands.

Here are a few warning signs along the same vein.

use your own brain

self defense against the fence

feeding the animals with fingers

wired to work out

beware of killer frogs

moose crossing

nuts may contain nuts

be prepared

beware of lady

Have you seen any bizarre disclaimers or instructions lately? Please tell us about it in a comment.

quotation...

"Truth causes us to cut between tradition and trends." - Dr. Chris Barney

=^..^= =^..^=
Rob

No electrons were harmed in the creation of this blog post, although some were undoubtedly inconvenienced.

Is Beijing Ready?


logo of the 2008 Olympics in Beijing

With the opening of the 2008 Olympics in Beijing a week away, I thought I'd share some pictures of the landscaping that's been going on around China in preparation for visitors from all around the world. Some articles that I've read have called this "greenwashing" - an attempt to purify the image of wide-spread pollution that many have in mind when they think of China. In any case, the results are spectacular and impressive, and the Chinese have shown great ingenuity and creativity in many of the preparations.

Here's the Bird's Nest Olympic Stadium...

2008 Olympic stadium

Now on to some of the gardens...

a tribute to the Greek origins

flowers highlighting several sporting events

a floral abacus

playful creatures

a butterfly

dolphin fountains

a hand with a waterfall

Chinese men talking

dragons

Whatever you want to say

At the end of our time of teaching two years ago, we went to Beijing for a long weekend before returning to the USA. You can read about it by going to http://blog.ivman.com/our-final-days-in-beijing At that time we seriously wondered if Beijing was going to be ready for the Olympics, and we weren't thinking about the landscaping! Those three days, we ate only in American chain restaurants - restaurants in which we seldom, if ever, eat here at home - McDonald's, KFC, and Pizza Hut. Our reasons were not because we craved Western food; it was because we could not read Chinese and could not order without assistance in a Chinese restaurant where no one speaks English. What astounded us was that, even in the American restaurants, no workers could speak English! We pointed at pictures on a menu to place our orders! I'm eager to hear how things go this summer when thousands of tourists arrive, unable to speak or read Chinese.

The question is not only if Beijing is ready for the tourists, but also if the tourists are ready for Beijing. If they want some adventures, they could try some Chinese fast food sold by street vendors (not always the safest option available, from what we heard.) Too bad the food won't be labeled as it is in the pictures.

street vendors selling their wares

fried starfish

various bugs

dog brain soup

seafood and more

goat lungs and red peppers

dog livers and veggies

sea horses

sea snake

grilled snake and silkworms

We ate some interesting stuff in China, but I assure you we ate none of the above - and definitely not from sidewalk vendors! Are any of you game to try any of those delights?

quotation...

"God's small group discipleship program is the family." - Dr. Drew Conley

=^..^= =^..^=
Rob

Taste makes waist.

Nice Bathroom Humor


One of the things that my readers appreciate is that what I post is suitable for even the youngest members of the family. So much of what calls itself humor these days ranges from blatant filth to innuendo to bathroom humor.

I've had some interesting pictures and information passed on to me lately, though, that I've been wanting to post. Technically, it's bathroom humor, but not what people normally think of when they hear that expression. You'll understand as you read on....

With so much emphasis today on everything being "green," many will see the practicality in a new device called WashUP. It uses the washer’s discarded water as the water for the toilet. Very clever - after all, who needs clean water for flushing?

washer/toilet combination

Pretty clever, huh?

Another innovation for those multitaskers who are the epitome of practical...

going online

Kind of gives "going online" a whole new meaning!

Some people, though, are more interested in uniqueness or beauty. Here are a couple of glitzy toilets on the market for people into "bathroom bling"...

aquarium toilet

absolutely glitzy toilet

Those who used to visit my funny picture archives will remember the following outdoor toilet from a European city...

European outdoor toilet

Some places in Europe do, however, prefer something with a bit more privacy...

disappearing outdoor bathroom

Scary, huh?

I have several bathroom signs that need little or no explanation.

Here's a sign from a bathroom in the Philippines... (Many thanks to two readers who located the original pictures from before my blog was hacked! Thanks to D.W. for helping me restore this one!) 🙂

a sign in a bathroom in the Philippines - picture is still missing

This bathroom sign is obviously from an upscale establishment... (Thanks to M.H. for helping me restore this one!) 🙂

high-class establishment

This sign says it all for those of us at BJU taking part in the Wellness Challenge...

restroom sign

I'll end this part of the post with a note seen on a bathroom door...

Attention Children: The Bathroom Door is Closed!

Please do not stand here and talk, whine, or ask questions. Wait until I get out.

Yes, it is locked. I want it that way. It is not broken; I am not trapped.

I know I have left it unlocked, and even open at times, since you were born because I was afraid some horrible tragedy might occur while I was in there; but it's been years and I want some PRIVACY.

Do not ask me how long I will be. I will come out when I am ready.

Do not bring the phone to the bathroom door.

Do not go running back to the phone yelling, "She's in the BATHROOM!"

Do not begin to fight as soon as I go in.

Do not stick your little fingers under the door and wiggle them. This was funny only when you were two.

Do not slide pennies, Legos, or notes under the door. Even when you were two, this got a little tiresome.

If you have followed me down the hall talking and are still talking as you face this closed door, please turn around, walk away, and wait for me in another room. I will be glad to listen to you when I am done.

Oh ... and yes, I still do love you.

Mom

quotation...

"Live your life for the one thing that matters - the pursuit of Jesus Christ." - Dr. Drew Conley

=^..^= =^..^=
Rob

The length of a minute depends on which side of the bathroom door you're on.

Great Cat Quotations


My wife was looking at the tag cloud in the sidebar of my blog and said she noticed I don't have many posts about cats. Since we're cat people, I thought I'd better do something about that!

Here's a list of great quotations about cats and a few pictures I hope you'll find amusing.

"People who hate cats in this life will come back as mice in their next life." - Faith Resnick

"Cats are smarter than dogs. You can't get eight cats to pull a sled through snow." - Jeff Valdez

"Thousands of years ago, cats were worshiped as gods. Cats have never forgotten this." - unknown

"The cat is the only animal which accepts the comforts but rejects the bondage of domesticity." - Georges Louis Leclerc de Buffon

cat ad

"In a cat's eye, all things belong to cats." - English proverb

"Curiosity killed the cat, but for awhile I was a suspect." - Steven Wright

"Cats are connoisseurs of comfort." - James Herriot

"One cat leads to another." - Ernest Hemingway

"Beware of people who dislike cats." - Irish proverb

"If you yell at a cat, you’re the one who is making a fool of yourself." - unknown

"Cat people are different, to the extent that they generally are not conformists. How could they be, with a cat running their lives?" - Louis Camuti

"Cat’s motto: No matter what you’ve done wrong, always try to make it look like the dog did it." - unknown

"Dog's come when they're called: cats take a message and get back to you later." - Mary Bly

"As every cat owner knows, nobody owns a cat." - Ellen Perry Berkeley

"There are two means of refuge from the miseries of life: music and cats." - Albert Schweiter

"Kittens are born with their eyes shut. They open them in about six days, take a look around, then close them again for the better part of their lives." - Stephen Baker

"Dogs believe they are human. Cats believe they are gods." - unknown

"Cat: A pygmy lion who loves mice, hates dogs and patronizes human beings." - Oliver Herford

stress relief

"To err is human, to purr is feline." - Robert Byrne

"The cat has too much spirit to have no heart." - Ernest Menaul

"The phrase 'domestic cat' is an oxymoron." - George F. Will

"The cat loves fish, but hates wet feet." - Medieval Proverb

"There is no snooze button on a cat who wants breakfast." - Unknown

"Cats aren’t clean, they’re just covered with cat spit." - John S. Nichols

"Time spent with cats is never wasted." - Colette

"Cats are rather delicate creatures and they are subject to a good many ailments, but I never heard of one who suffered from insomnia." - Joseph Wood Krutch

"You will always be lucky if you know how to make friends with strange cats." - Colonial American proverb

"No matter how much cats fight, there always seems to be plenty of kittens." - Abraham Lincoln

"If you hold a cat by the tail you learn things you cannot learn any other way." - Mark Twain

"Some people say that cats are sneaky, evil, and cruel. True and they have many other fine qualities as well." - Missy Dizick

"There are many intelligent species in the universe. They are all owned by cats." - unknown

"When my cats aren't happy, I'm not happy. Not because I care about their mood but because I know they're just sitting there thinking up ways to get even." - Percy Bysshe Shelley

"I had been told that the training procedure with cats was difficult. It's not. Mine had me trained in two days." - Bill Dana

"The trouble with a kitten is that...
Eventually...
It becomes a cat!" - Ogden Nash

"Cats never strike a pose that isn’t photogenic." - Lilian Jackson Braun (author of The Cat Who... series)

As much as my wife and I are fans of Lilian Jackson Braun's series of The Cat Who... books, I have to say that we've seen our cats in some awfully unphotogenic poses. The following picture is a couple of cats who are modest sunbathers.

modest cats sunbathing

Our grandson Drew loves to play in water, and so his grandma Esther bought him a swimming pool. Here are several pictures of him enjoying it.

Drew in his frog pool

another pic of Drew in his pool

Drew loves spraying water

We'd enjoy hearing comments from other cat people!

quotation...

"Every Bible should be bound in shoe leather." - D. L. Moody

=^..^= =^..^=
Rob

Dogs have owners; cats have staff.

cat in a hammock