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Stationary Wisdom

May 19, 2011

Despite the recent deluge of eventful, post-worthy things in my life, I just haven’t been blogging that often. The writing muse just hasn’t been activated in awhile…perhaps replaced by the music muse that inspired me to take up the ukulele, the food muse that has had me in a somewhat obsessive quest for the perfect naengmyun, or the Cracked.com, weboggle, Game of Thrones or shopping muse. Whatever the case, I really felt the need to make a post about the notebooks and stationary here in Korea (stationary muse…?).

I think English speaking expats come here expecting bad English in every form everywhere. Engrish.com went viral awhile back and made sure everyone had access to the crazy translations that make it over here. It’s funny for awhile but then you realize IT’S ON EVERYTHING. Bad English on things that, back in the US anyway, wouldn’t normally have so much text on them, let alone long, tedious paragraphs (known as essays) used as the fundamental design. That’s right – just like stripes or polka dots or plaid.

But sometimes..

It’s surprisingly deep and meaningful English quoted from somewhere or back translated (sigh) from somewhere. While shopping for some cheapy-deapy, cute notebooks, I found myself actively engaged in reading each one. It seemed like so much effort went into printing some of these messages that for, for the most part, will probably never be read by their owners.

So, here are the best ones.

Smile at the Sky

Smile at the sky. It’s so pretty. It sets me free. When I’m sad, I go outside. When I’m happy I go outside. A smile emerges on my face so far and wide.

This notebook quote was all about me today. My first class was just really hard and frustrating and crazy but it just took a few open windows to let the sun in and to wind down and power through the rest of the day (which was amazing)

You’ll notice the title is a link to the poem in full which I found AFTER posting…whoops. Whoops for me. Whoops for notebook not giving credit to the author.


I’m a banana.

YOUR DAYS ARE COMING PRETTY SOON

You should be able to articulate your dreams in a new way, and thus bring them a little closer to reality.

I don’t know what the banana is about but I couldn’t really find a source for this one which could mean it’s Korean. I’ll check on Monday. I like this message – I can make my dreams more realistic by further examining them? Deep.

WALK FORWARD YOUR DREAM

IF YOU DON’T WALK TODAY, YOU WILL HAVE TO RUN TOMORROW.

The start of a happy life is a firm decision that I will must be happy and the practice that lead you happiness from this moment. He who would learn to fly one day must first learn to stand and walk and run and climb and dance one cannot fly into flying.

Ok, that one might take more than one reading and there’s a lot to take in. It is absolutely baffling sometimes how the grammar gets so twisted up. One of the frustrating parts about being inundated with Engrish here is encountering Engrish and wondering why no one at the office thought to call the resident foreigner to straighten it out. I’m guessing it’d be expensive. But anyone who knows anything about Korean and English knows that Babelfish will not get the job done. Walk forward your dream? If you can plug a fragment of a sentence into Google and NO ONE in the ENTIRE WORLD has ever put those words together even kind of like that, it’s just no good.

That said, I would love to get actual sources for these quotes or even more insight into how the bad English makes it onto just about everything in Korea. Also, I secretly hope that all my students go on to take careers that prevent horrible, ridiculous English from getting into the hands of future Korean children.

Students, you have the power to end this.

The future is in your hands...

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