42. English in Bangladesh: some unintentionally funny results

I was reminded recently of something from the book ‘Entry From Backside Only’, by Binoo John, on the love affair between India and the English language. Here in Bangladesh too I have come across some unintentionally funny interpretations and translations. Needless to say, given my far from perfect mastery of Bangla, I’m sure they’re not nearly as funny as the many blunders and gaffs I make daily. (There’s another post idea there!)

Sometimes it’s the naming of shops, schools, restaurants, etc. I remember going for lunch in Old Dhaka with five female dental students that I had spent the morning sightseeing with. The restaurant was called the ‘One Stare Restaurant’. I’m not sure what the owner was trying to convey: surely if he meant ‘star’, you would think he might have aimed a little higher than ‘one’. On the other hand, there is a lot of staring in Bangladesh, so maybe just ‘one stare’ would be preferable to many. Whether ‘stare’ or ‘star’, the food was delicious and the occasion a memorable one.

One of the items on the menu that day was ‘ballness chicken’. Menus in English can prove to be tricky terrain, and the many typos often make for adventurous reading. You can usually determine what is meant though. Have a look at the menu in the photograph selection below – from a Chinese restaurant in Bandarban –  for some more examples.

Schools and universities are very imaginatively named. For example, I have seen posters for the ‘Ingenious International School’, the ‘Mastermind School’, the ‘Ideal School & College’ and the ‘Eminence International School & College’. Then there’s ‘Stamford University’ on my doorstep. Another well-known private university in Dhaka is called ‘Daffodil University’.

I have come across a promising ‘Get Cured Pharmacy’ and a ‘Healthy Pharmacy’. There’s a shop in Banani called ‘Children ‘R’ Us’ (sign modelled on the ‘Toys R Us’ one). I’ve seen a ‘Harrods’ and a ‘Maceys’ too and many beauty ‘saloons’. Not far from where I live there is the scientific sounding ‘Genetic Plaza’ ( a shopping centre).

On more than one occasion, I have seen tourist accommodation described as having a ‘lonely atmosphere’. Another promised to cater for my ‘aristocratic needs’. You could stay at the ‘Hotel Sweet Dream’ or the ‘Tropical Daisy’ in Dhaka. Lynne Truss would have a field day with some descriptions e.g. one hotel advert highlighted its ‘high commode toilet with shower’.  Advertisements in the paper for rental accommodation can be tricky too e.g. ‘Kitchen with parking (foreigners only)’. I have seen an apartment advertised as ‘posh and excellent’. (Incidentally, a disturbing number of adverts are marked, ‘Strictly for Europeans and Americans’.)

Finally, and very hopefully, a DVD cover promised ‘English subtitles for the dead’.

There are many more, but here are a few photographs for now to make you smile. (Unfortunately, since Cooliris was acquired by Yahoo my lovely photo walls no longer work :(. I have replaced them with links to post-specific web-album slideshows until such time as I can find a better solution.)

Click on image below for PHOTO SLIDESHOW related to this post (15 photographs in all). Enjoy!

1Entry from backside only' by Binoo John

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