Here Speeching American: A Very Strange Guide to English as It Is Garbled Around the World

Here Speeching American: A Very Strange Guide to English as It Is Garbled Around the World

by Kathryn Petras, Ross Petras


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Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780812973150
Publisher: Random House Publishing Group
Publication date: 10/05/2004
Pages: 240
Sales rank: 1,286,077
Product dimensions: 4.74(w) x 7.26(h) x 0.53(d)

About the Author

Kathryn Petras collected The 776 Stupidest Things Ever Said and put them all in a bookHer other works, coauthored with her brother Ross, include Don't Forget to Sing in the Lifeboats and It All Seems Impossible Until It's Done. She lives in New York City.

Ross Petras, along with his sister, Kathryn Petras, collected The 776 Stupidest Things Ever Said. His other works, also coauthored with his sister, include Don't Forget to Sing in the Lifeboats and It All Seems Impossible Until It's Done. He lives in New York City.

Read an Excerpt

Chapter 1

Air Travel

Your trip abroad often begins before you set foot in your destination country. We are speaking, of course, of foreign airlines. What better way to immediately get to know the people and the culture, and to get a glimpse of the fun times you’ll soon be having, than flying on your host country’s national carrier?

The first impression you’ll get of the country you’ll be visiting is from your flight crew. They are carefully selected to be the perfect ambassadors.

Duck feet? You’re out. Pigeon toes? Out! Bowlegs, pimples, warts, moles, dark skin, scars, bad breath? Out! . . . [And] they must be virgins.

Hao Yu-ping, director of flight attendant school at China Air, describing the airline’s requirements for flight attendants

The stewardesses of Southwest Airlines must go through four steps, such as hardship, tiredment, dirt feeling. Beside the quality of general stewardess.

from the first edition of Chinese airline Southwest Civil Aviation’s Inflight Magazing [sic]

And they’re trained to give you exceptional—even exotic—service.

Sir would you like some sauce on your balls?

Singapore Airlines stewardess, quoted in Singapore newspaper

The crew will want to make your flight as comfortable and safe as possible, so read the helpful material in the seat pocket—and be assured of a relaxing, worry-free trip.

Bags to be use in case of sickness of to gather


slogan on a Spanish airline’s airsickness bag

And an itch-free trip too!

Dear Passenger,

Wish you have a joyful journey!

When you are in public talking and laughing and drinking and singing . . . living a happy life, suddenly you feel some part of your body is too itchy to endure. How embarrassed! Please dial fax 01-491-0253, you will gain an unexpected result.

Air China brochure

You may want to read the specifics of your flight for further reassurance.

International Fright Information

airline timetable, China Airlines in-flight magazine

Maximum cruising fright level

in-flight magazine, China Eastern Airlines

So settle back and dip into that in-flight magazine. What a wonderful way to begin your vacation!

Enjoy French odor in the South Pacific.

from a French airline (UTA) and government of New Caledonia ad

We’d like to offer our affection as a gift by the white bird on sky to every genuinely go the same may together with you. This is our only requite to you.

dedication, Xiamen Airlines in-flight magazine, China

Take this opportunity to read about the sights you’ll soon be be seeing.

Situated in the monsoon tropical zone, though the year covered with luxuriant vegetations, the land of Dai La by the Red River is “printed the forms of sitting tiger and winding dragon. . . . looking all over Vietnamese country, that’s land of scenic beauty, an important metropolistes indeed for four directions to gatter and the first rank of city merined to be regarded as Capital forever.”

in-flight magazine, Vietnam

Incest sticks hang from the ceil-

ing of a Taoist temple.

Morning Calm, in-flight

magazine, Korean Air

What an informative and exotic learning experience! And get ready for an exotic eating experience too! We’re not talking little foil packets of Planters Peanuts . . .

Fduhy Sesane

China Airlines (CAAC) snack food

We will now be serving snakes.

Singapore Airlines stewardess,

quoted in Singapore newspaper

Near the end of the flight, you’ll often be handed an immigration card. It’s times like these you may find yourself wishing you’d paid more attention in eighth-grade French (not to mention Chinese).

Fill in the card clearly in the following languages: Chinese, English, French and Spanish. Japanese names shall be filled in Rome alphabet.

instructions on immigration form, China

And remember any special instructions about disembarking you may have received.

Upon arrival at Kimpo and Kimahie Airport, please Wear your Clothes.

on invitation to dedication ceremony from a Korean steel mill

in the airport

A foreign airport can be intimidating, but your hosts will do their best to make you feel completely at home.

Welcome To A Great Stage Where

Wings of the World Gather, Flap,

and Fly skyward

from a guide to Narita

Airport, Japan

Speaking of flapping, you’ll see many ads for exciting overseas airlines that might induce you to book another flight immediately.

AEROFLOT: Introducing wide boiled aircraft for your comfort . . .

ad for Soviet (Russian) airline

Akita to Okinawa

Non-Stop Fright

from ad for JAS airline, Japan

Air Vietnam: The most experimental airline

slogan in 1960

Malaysia Airline. From Kuala Lumpur to Kuala Lumpur. Fair: 7,760 baht; US $310.

ad in Chiangmai Guidelines, Lao Aviation, Laos

Of course, the airport will offer the same efficiency you’re used to at home.

Irregular Flight Service

sign in Xian Airport, China

This Way Please

sign at Malé International Airport, Maldives

But airport services may be a bit more exotic.

Shoe sunshine

sign at shoeshine stand, Osaka Airport, Japan

Make Tsogt Chandmani Currency Exchange your choice and take the advantage and the flavour with you.

slogan of currency exchange, Mongolia

Air India Passengers for Your Reading Pleasure

sign in airport, Bombay

Don’t be too surprised if your Louis Vuitton isn’t on the baggage carousel . . .

We take your bags and send them

in all directions.

sign in an airline ticket office,


A little anticipation seems to be the rule of the day at some airports.

Passengers expecting mishandled baggage should obtain landing certificate from customs.

Government of India disembarkation card given to passengers upon arrival in New Delhi’s airport

Payment Before Ordering

sign at restaurant in Ben

Gurion Airport, Israel

Or sometimes not . . .

Buy ticket after normal time.

Flying off forward 30 mm transact

stand-by ticket window in Wuhan, China, airport

Then it’s on to customs. Entering a country can be a tad tricky . . .

Objects must be declared. If there isn’t any object mark “X” only at the quantity “Yes” column and if there are any objects, cross out letter “No” and at the same row write exact amount of weight of these objects in words or in figures.

customs form, which also warns sternly against “giving false declaration or having the action of tricking,” Vietnam

. . . or, for that matter, leaving . . .


It is known that all the turistic services in Mallorca are maintaining a correct relation price quality, but even though, we wish to prize the establishments and services that to the opinion of our visitors, surpass notoriously for their quality.

To be able to fill out these questionnaires you must write the name of this establishment, installation or turistic service, as is shown below, and you must give a punctuation between 6 and 10 points hoping that the service that you must punctuate has been the best in the relation price-quality.

sign urging travelers to fill out questionnaires in a Mallorca airport, Spain

A few quick words about airport security, which is on everyone’s mind these days. Security standards differ from country to country. Emotional people and rodent-lovers in particular, take note.

X Rat Check

sign in Taiwan airport

Please stand on your turn.

For the safety of the passenger

it is prohibited to carry the dangerous things

in their hand bags of passenger.

eThe hand bag

eDangerous things as gasses and passions

sign in Kabul International Airport, Afghanistan


A fine hotel in a foreign land should be a wonderful “home away from home.” It’s a place to relax after hectic days of sightseeing or business, a place to reenergize and regroup. As such, it is wise to select a hotel that meets your specific needs. This should be no problem whatsoever. There is a wide range of hotels designed for different types of tourists, from go-getters to . . . well . . . let’s just say, other types of travelers.

Hotel de Bastard

Lectoure, France

Aggressive Hotels

hotel chain, Cambodia

City Hotel &

Nut Club

sign on hotel, Japan

Because of the myriad of choices, you’ll find hotel companies bending over backward to assure you, the English-speaking visitor, that their hotel is the right one for


Be prepared for a nerve-racking experience.

An outrageous rip-off on food and drinks

and hotel rates.

Lexus Clan hotel ad, The Manila

Bulletin, Philippines

bath in room, pavements in cooked

travel pamphlet, Sicily

We Serve you with Hostiality.

from the Fu Hua and East Lake Hotels, Guangdong, China

Who among us can fail to be excited by such claims?

Always inquire beforehand about special rates or

promotional programs. Room rates may include breakfast . . . or other things.

Special Room Rats in August

flyer from the Man Po Boutique Hotel, Shanghai

There is, however, a good chance you’ll decide to pay less and forgo any special “extras.”

European Plan

Measles not included in Room Charge

hotel rate card, Seoul

Regardless of the hotel you choose, you will almost certainly be touched by the efforts of the helpful staff to communicate in your own tongue. Signs, brochures, pamphlets—these are all designed to make you feel right at home, almost as if you hadn’t left the States at all.

The manager has personally passed all the water served here.

sign in a hotel, Acapulco

Invisible service is available for your rest being not disturbed.

notice in Yuanfei Hotel, Weifang, China

Harold Tribune is available at lobby paper rack.

handout to guests at the Airport Garden Hotel, Seeduwa, Sri Lanka

To get the best service possible, it is wise to make the right first impression. Abide by the management’s requests you’ll see posted in the lobby. These are usually extremely straightforward.

Good appearance please. No

watermelon please.

sign in lobby of Fragrant

Hills Hotel, Beijing

At the Cashier’s counter kindly note that personal cheese are not accepted.

helpful hint included in Imperial Samui Hotel guidebook, Thailand

No entries in upper clothes

Distik Hotel, Bishkek, Kyrgyzstan

Not to perambulate the corridors in the hours of repose in the boots of ascension.

sign in ski hotel, Austria

Guests are prohibited from walking around in the lobby in large groups in the nude.

sign in hotel lobby, Havana

Some hotels are rather liberal when it comes to rules . . .

Because of the impropriety of entertaining guests of the opposite sex in the bedroom, it is suggested that the lobby be used for this purpose.

sign in hotel, Zurich

Now it’s onto the elevator and up to your room . . .


To move the [elevator] cabin, push button of the wishing floor. If the cabin should enter more persons, each one should press the number of wishing floor. Driving is then going alphabetically by natural order. Button retaining pressed position shows received command for visiting station.

hotel elevator directions, Madrid

The lift is being fixed for the next day. During that time we regret that you will be unbearable.

sign in hotel lobby, Bucharest, Romania

Your hotel room will have all the amenities you expect . . . and some you won’t.



items provided in the Wesun Hotel, Wuhan, China

Plus a plethora of extremely helpful hints for getting as comfortable as possible.

Cooles and Heates: If you want just condition of warm in your room, please control yourself.

from an information booklet about hotel air conditioner, Japan

If you wish, you may open the window.

Do not open the Window.

sign on window, Westin Chosun Hotel, Seoul

To speak to a guest in another room: Please follow these instructions: 1st Floor—add 250 to the room number and dial, on the 2nd, 3rd, and 4th Floors—dial the number required. 5th Floor—subtract 250 from the room number and dial, e.g. to contact Room 510 dial 260 EXCEPT for Room 542 whose number is 294.

telephone instructions, Zimbabwe Sun Hotel

Please maintain temperature at 1 degree from 25, any higher or lower will only make the room hotter or colder.

sign, Taipan Hotel, Bangkok

No in the room

sign in Sri Racha resort, Thailand

Some rooms come with special features (or should we say “featules”?).

auto rock

lock on hotel door, Japan

Others, special services.

Please dial 7 to retrieve your auto from the garbage.

instructions on hotel-room phone, Rome

Take a second to look at emergency instructions (usually posted on your room door). You’ll know just what to do if the worst happens.

When emergency, cover your mouse with your handkerchief.

sign in hotel, Japan

No smoking in bed. If it’s on fire the guests should be disperse according to the safety way.

sign in room, Andingmen Hotel, Beijing

You might want to take a few minutes to refresh yourself after your plane trip. Pop into your bathroom and turn up the volume!

Volume On. Squelch. Please dial to shut whenever you want to.

labels above faucets in hotel bathroom, Japan

Voltage is 220 V but the use of the electric i rous or telt les is not permitted.

hotel brochure, Yugoslavia

Is forbitten to steal hotel towels please. If you are not person to do such thing is please not to read notis.

sign in hotel, Tokyo

You’ll find that standards of cleanliness are often remarkably thorough.

Toilet was Cleaned and Spayed.

sign in hotel, Hue, Vietnam

And the complimentary toiletries are often quite enthusiastic!

The toothbrush is an indispensible part of enjoying life. I brush my teeth every day. I have a wonderful time. I like my toothbrush. I was won’t to get up early.

wrapper on complimentary hotel toothbrush, Japan

Gives you strong mouth and refreshing wind!

claim on hotel toothpaste wrapper, Japan

You might want to take advantage of the hotel laundry service. These tend to be extremely versatile. You might be pleasantly surprised at the variety of items they’ll clean—and so quickly too!


19: Skirt

20: Stocking

21: Hand Kerchief

22: Big Towel

23: Small Towel

24: Hat

25: Shoes

26: Tie

27: Price of Ironing

28: Car with 12 to 15 seats

29: Car with 4 seats

laundry-bag list from Cam Do Hotel, Dalat, Vietnam

The flattening of underwear with plessure is the job of the chambermaid. Turn to her straight away.

in hotel brochure, Brno, Czech Republic

Feel free to use the hotel’s or resort’s recreational facilities, gift shops, or restaurants. You will note many exciting suggestions in the literature at the concierge’s desk, or posted in common areas.

For schedube and programmes of theaters as well as the tickets for all the types of performances, please, consult (he hall parter).

hotel brochure, Yugoslavia

Take one of our horse-driven city tours—we guarantee no miscarriages.

sign at in-hotel tourist agency, Czech Republic

Hotel pools are a wonderful treat and something you’ll surely want to enjoy. Just remember that safety is de rigueur!

No Diving.

No Nakedness.

No Ruining.

sign at hotel pool, Istanbul


Open 24 hours. Lifeguard on duty 8AM to 8PM Drowning absolutely prohibited.

sign at Plantation Bay Resort, Philippines

Swimming is forbidden in the absence of the


sign by hotel swimming pool, France

Some hotels even offer more specialized swimming or bathing facilities (especially a plus for aviculturists).

Third Floor: Turkey Bath

sign at Hotel Palace, Seoul

And you’ll often find truly fine dining in the hotel itself. We guarantee that you won’t be able to skip those meals!

Compulsory Buffet Breakfast

sign at Melia Hanoi Hotel, Vietnam

A La Crate Menu

menu in the Pool Terrace (Over Looking the Sea), Sri Lanka Lavinia Hotel

Tasty Tacos and Beautiful Tarts are the order of the day.

from promotional letter for guests of the Caravelle Hotel, Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam

A quick word about monetary matters: Some hotels prefer payment up front, others weekly; others have somewhat different time frames in mind.

Table of Contents

About This Bookxi
Air Travel3
In the Airport8
Zoos and National Parks32
Museums and Historic Sites35
Other Sites37
Rest Rooms, or "When the Need Strikes"38
Culture and the Arts41
Sports and Games57
Visiting Embassies Overseas63
Getting Around: Public Transportation67
Getting Around: Driving73
Shopping for Clothing and Accessories95
Pampering Yourself: Visiting Beauty Shops and Spas107
Dining Out113
Learning the Local Language139
Writing Home145
Holidays and Special Events149
In Case of Emergency155
The Business Traveler163
Government Agencies and Officials181
The Local Media185
So You're Planning to Live Overseas193
Shopping for Essentials197
Traveling with Children213
Travel Etiquette221

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Here Speeching American: A Very Strange Guide to English as It Is Garbled Around the World 5 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 2 reviews.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
In our travels, we often come across signs, banners, menus and other items written in English. sort of. This book is a collection of many, many instances of unintended but hilarious misuse of English. At airports, tourist sites, restaurants and other haunts frequented by English speakers, the signage is intended to help us find our way, if we don't speak the local language - but the results are sometimes pretty confusing! The brilliant thing about this book is that it collects real examples from around the world (you couldn't make this stuff up if you tried!), and presents a real linguistic feast. I was laughing so hard I literally had tears rolling down my face while reading the book. I don't know if it will be quite as enjoyable for someone who had no interest in linguistics, but I think everyone will get a good laugh out of it. My favorite quote? "We take you bags and send them in all directions", from a European airline. Indeed!
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
And with just a few pages, I am lmao.