The celebrated authors of the perennial bestseller The 776 Stupidest Things Ever Said set the typical travel guide squarely on its head–taking you from the airport to the hotel, from sightseeing to dining out–by using 100 percent real examples of fractured English as spoken and posted abroad:
• Feel like shopping?
We have no good things to sell.
–shop sign, Lovina Beach, Bali
• Feeling sick?
Are you haunted by the horribles? Do you run after your own nose?
–Japanese medical form
• Wondering what to wear?
A sports jacket may be worn to dinner, but no trousers.
–in a French hotel brochure
• Wondering where to eat?
Grill and Roast your clients! Open for lunch, dinner and Sunday Brunch.
–slogan of the Hibiscus restaurant in the Jakarta Hilton International
But don’t take our word for it, come see for yourself. And if that’s too much to ask, remember the sage advice from the staff of a Taipei hotel: “If there is anything we can do to assist and help you, please do not contact us.”
|Publisher:||Random House Publishing Group|
|Product dimensions:||4.74(w) x 7.26(h) x 0.53(d)|
About the Author
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
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!
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 . . .
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
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
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.
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
hotel chain, Cambodia
City Hotel &
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
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.”
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
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.
NEEDLE WOKE DAG
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”?).
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!
21: Hand Kerchief
22: Big Towel
23: Small Towel
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!
sign at hotel pool, Istanbul
SWIMMING POOL SUGGESTIONS
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 Book||xi|
|In the Airport||8|
|Zoos and National Parks||32|
|Museums and Historic Sites||35|
|Rest Rooms, or "When the Need Strikes"||38|
|Culture and the Arts||41|
|Sports and Games||57|
|Visiting Embassies Overseas||63|
|Getting Around: Public Transportation||67|
|Getting Around: Driving||73|
|Shopping for Clothing and Accessories||95|
|Pampering Yourself: Visiting Beauty Shops and Spas||107|
|Learning the Local Language||139|
|Holidays and Special Events||149|
|In Case of Emergency||155|
|The Business Traveler||163|
|Government Agencies and Officials||181|
|The Local Media||185|
|So You're Planning to Live Overseas||193|
|Shopping for Essentials||197|
|Traveling with Children||213|
Most Helpful Customer Reviews
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!
And with just a few pages, I am lmao.