Thursday, June 10, 2010

English In Its Mysteries

I see lots of interesting English over here in the Land of Smiles. Sometimes it’s mere misapplications of simple English words; sometimes coincidental usages, which language teachers call “false friends” (in German, “also” means “thusly,” and “fast” means “almost”); and sometimes there are really strange juxtapositions.

Of the first variety, the other day I saw an apartment building named “The Twin Tower.” So for one thing, there was only the one of it, as in THE Twin Tower; for another thing, it was only five stories tall, hardly qualifying as a tower. The building’s footprint covered a large area, further diminishing its “tower” pretensions.

Of the second, there is a complex near me called “Nasa-Vegas,” consisting of a hotel and a large building of serviced apartments and shops. It has nothing to do, of course, with either NASA or Las Vegas. I’m pretty sure the derivation is Malaysian, I’ve seen similar words in that language, and mine is a largely Muslim neighborhood of BKK.

An example of the third variety delivers the punch line herein. There’s a hotel in BKK called the A*ana, name obscured to protect the guilty. The interesting part is the large signage on the premises. Written large on the side of the building is “Jesus Loves You,” leading you in one direction. Below that, dragging you back to reality, is a large neon sign announcing, “Massage, 24 Hours.” This is not my first time in the big city, I know what that means, and it has precious little to do with massage.

Ah, the small joys of travel!

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