Wednesday, January 11, 2006

Kanji Smatter

I'm sure you've noticed that Chinese characters (hanzi in at least one Chinese dialect, kanji in Japanese) are very popular as graphic art among Westerners. Whities, African Americans, and Latinos paint them on cars, hang them on walls, and tattooed them into skin. I've often wondered, given that most of these people most likely don't speak (or, more to the point, read) a word of Japanese or any Chinese dialect, how often the message is flubbed or intentionally mistranslated. I've long speculated that some huge number of Americans are walking around with nonsense permanently implanted into their skin. Shoot, I'm sure more than a few are carrying messages that insult the bearer's intelligence or parentage. Well, know I know I was right to wonder. An NPR story pointed me to Hanzi Smatter, a blog written by a Chinese American and dedicated to "outing" misuses of kanji by Westerners. So, you might want to investigate the site. And enjoy, gentle reader.

No comments:

Post a Comment