Thinglish: Please Abstain Us

Living in Thailand, where English is taught in the schools but not very well, one encounters all sorts of examples of Thai English that provoke confusion, bewilderment, and hilarity. (Of course, being perfectly fair, my creative uses of the Thai language send normally polite and reserved locals into paroxysms of laughter.) The other day at a local mall, I stopped to admire the works of young artists who had created entries for an exhibit themed around environmental awareness.


A painter offers this moose imploring viewers to “please abstain us”. The idea, according to the plaque on the base, was to not eat endangered species of animals. A thoughtful idea and a graphically arresting one, even if a bit off in its use of English. 


0 thoughts on “Thinglish: Please Abstain Us

  1. Chinglish is even more hilarious. Read the following:Receptionist:“Hello.” Foreigner:“Hi.”Receptionist:“You have what thing?”Foreigner:“Can you speak English?”Receptionist:“If I not speak English, I am speaking what?”Foreigner:“Can anybody else speak English?”Receptionist:“You yourself look. All people are playing, no people have time, you can wait, you wait, you not wait, you go!”Foreigner:“Good heavens. Anybody here can speak English?”Receptionist:“Shout what shout, quiet a little, you on earth have what thing ?”Foreigner:“I want to speak to your head.”Receptionist:“Head not zai. You tomorrow come!”

  2. Such a tricky business, translation. My boyfriend’s brother is moving back to the U.S. this fall after spending a few years living in Beijing and Hong Kong. He had a blog that regularly featured amusingly bad Chinglish. One I’ll never be able to forget was a menu that had an item listed as “Pork and F*** the Bean Curd.” No idea what that was meant to say.

  3. I have seen similar things at home in India where people tend to advertise, and the result is a bundle of laughter, especially when it is translated from Urdu or Tamil.

  4. i grew up in nothern thailand while both of my parents taught english in local schools and saw this so much the first couple years we were there! it always made me giggle but at the same time, i did the exact same thing with thai. lol

  5. yeah, my stepmom is Thai.  i don’t like going anywhere, so I don’t like Thailand.  it’s little and the ladies all call me fat and won’t sell me M&Ms sometimes.  They’re trying to help. The villagers are nice and said I could go live there.  I should have really.  Working in a sweat shop would be better than “this.”  Plus, I have raynauds really, really bad, and their weather is better.  they thought I was married to my father and tried to get me away.  they would not survive in America.  jesus christ.  I just think whores gonna whore and leave them alone.  If they take my man, then it is my fault. I was 118 then.  Now that I’m a big, big girl, they would charge me extra to ride or not let me ride at all, and they always complain about my hair.  I should cut it all off because it is nasty.  Asian people have an advantage there.  I was hearing my literal voices when I was in Thailand.  I thought I could understand what they were saying, and I went a little crazy in Bangkok like I always do.  I’m sure I made friends.  I always make friends wherever I go, like in Cuba.  If yo ucan’t fix it, leave it alone.  I went with two priests to the north, and they made fun of the other person I was with in doublespeak.  Most people here do not understand doublespeak, but it was amusing.  Now I am braindead.  I still think the KGB would have been the best people to do the exorcism.

  6. @Aloysius_son – Maybe that’s what they are trying to promote and I’m the one who misunderstood!@stevew918 – @ClimbUpTreesToLookForFish – Yes, China seems to have plenty of examples of creative English. There’s a funny website called that is always good for a laugh.@day_of_the_dead – Yes, I’m sure there are plenty of Thai bloggers sharing funny stories about how farang mangle the Thai language.@Lakakalo – That’s an interpretation I hadn’t considered…@slmret – Yes, the artwork was interesting.@ZSA_MD – Thankfully, the benefit of English being such a global language is that we can find funny examples of its use just about anywhere!@epiginoskete – Don’t you wish menus had a more detailed description?@Fatcat723 – Hopefully, the artist’s English teacher was demoted.@angys_coco – @awoolham – Glad you enjoyed.@Colorsofthenight – Thank you for your comment.

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