Sunday, April 12, 2015

Starbucks: King Konglish!

Starbucks Wet Wipe
Two Views
Photos by Hwang Sun-Ae

I thought I'd be soonest to blog on the baffling 'Konglish' you see in the two images above (click to enlarge), but two other bloggers beat me to the punch! The first is a blog by David Harbinson, a UK expat who's teaching English in Korea and blogging under the title "A new day, a new thing," and he has this to say:
Well, today, I learned that the people (maybe person) behind Starbucks Korea's Twitter account really are a helpful, friendly, multilingual bunch (individual?). It all started when I got to my regular branch today. I was hungry, so ordered a sandwich with my coffee. It came with a hand wipe, you know for cleaning your hands afterwards. But it's what was written on the outside that I found most amusing/bewildering.
Mr. Harbinson saw what I saw, the Konglish, and he set about posting a Tweet on Twitter:
I get the keeping you clean bit, but for the life of me, couldn't make any sense of the first sentence. So, I did what any social media loving person would do, and took to Twitter, with a somewhat sarcastic comment before settling down to do my work:
OK Starbucks Korea, I see words. I'm not sure what they mean, but I see them.
Within a couple of minutes, Starbucks Tweeted in response, asking Mr. Harbinson for a correction, and you can read more about that on his blog post. Let's move on to the other blog, Wandering Seouls, which another expat maintains - call her "Tierney Teacher" since the kids at her workplace do - and she has this to say:
Jumping to a totally new topic, but one that still brings me joy, a Starbucks just opened literally two blocks from our work. Talk about luck! It is as if the coffee gods heard me moaning about how there seems to be a Starbucks everywhere, except between our home and our work, and decided to take pity on me. But at first I didn't know the location was new, in fact I was walking around before class one day and just sort of stumbled upon it. I thought to myself "how have I never noticed this here before?" and concluded that it was because it is across the street from a Baskin Robbin's that has posters of Shinee in its windows, and each time I walked by I must have been so enthralled with the pictures I didn't even glance across the street to see my little slice of home . . . but then Taylor told me that the Starbucks opened on the 24th (and this picture was taken on the 25th) so I felt much less silly :] In addition, I don't know if it can be read from this photo, but the wet nap I received with my chunked pineapple reads as follows:
Everyone can use relieved as made safety. Keeping you clean!
The Konglish (Korean's version of English) is frequent and prominent here. And brings me barrels of laughs! I'll post more terrible translations as I find them. I just couldn't believe that Starbucks, a Seattle-based, American company, had such a wild mistake! Ah, the humor still brings a smile to my face even as I write about it a week later!
Konglish is definitely frequent, and often funny, but I usually ignore it. This example, however, caught my eye, mainly because I think of Starbucks as an American company. I guess it's gone native, and for the nonce, it's the King of Konglish!

By the way, just one more shot, this one by a student of mine, Kim Young Ji (김영지):

This photo was taken in the English Lounge, where I have my office hours, and those are my grubby fingers holding the badly needed wet wipe . . .

Update: There's a third website dealing with the Starbucks Konglish, but the site is in Korean, so I can't read it, and my wife is too busy this morning (getting ready for a two-day trip to Jeju), so she had no time other than just to glance at the site, and she said it looks like a grammatical analysis to determine the meaning of the 'English' on the packet, seemingly as if the statement, "Everyone can use relieved as made safety," were grammatically correct!

Perhaps one of my readers has more time and can take a closer look?

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At 12:48 AM, Blogger mathilde said...

I did not imagine Konglish was that frequent, especially in starbucks... I cannot understand you more as Koreans have tendency to write in french on everything... and it s often ridiculous and funny.

At 7:57 AM, Blogger Horace Jeffery Hodges said...

What's Korean-French called? Kongench?

Jeffery Hodges

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