“Thinglish” is a portmanteau of “Thai” and “English”, describing the odd mixture of languages that you encounter as an expat here. One of the words that keeps catching my ear is “level up” which, the more I think about it, is quite an elegant word.
The meaning, as you might expect, is the same as the cumbersome “increase the level of” as in, “We need to increase the level of skill in their leadership capability.” But that is an awkward phrasing. My colleagues will instead say something like, “We need to level up their leadership capability skills.”
Before writing this post, I did some research and learned that “level up” is actually a gaming term, meaning “To progress to the next level of player character abilities, often by acquiring experience points in role-playing games.” Which, come to think of it, does sound a bit like the leadership development we do!
There is no shortage of opportunities to re-learn the English language when you live in a country where it isn’t the primary language. But that’s a good thing: it keeps your mind elastic!
A few weeks ago, I shared some pictures of signs I had seen in Shanghai that were good examples of odd translations into English. While the signs in Thailand are generally more accurately translated, I did just recently run into one that made me pause.
An office building across from Central Chidlom department store is being renovated and rebranded as The Mercury Ville @ Chidlom. The tag line: “The Ville of Urban Eatery. The Venue of Urban Dining Flagship in Town.” I have no idea what that means.
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.