I was wandering around aimlessly one day when I something caught my eye. English is rare in most areas of town, so it usually sticks out like a sore thumb. Walking by a store, I saw some English on their sign, so naturally focused in to take a closer look.
Sometimes the English descriptions are really funny and confusing, but most of the time, you can sort of extrapolate what they are trying to say. This sign, for example says, “The house close to dream and your life” – which means that this is a real estate office.
I took this picture because I like to translate the Mandarin and see if the English descriptions fit. Gives me a better idea of how things are expressed in Mandarin. In this case, the Mandarin translates into something similar – “Most close dream of house” – basically this real estate company will get you as close to your dream house as possible.
As I was walking away, looking at the picture, I noticed some smaller print English to the left.
It was cut off in the original, so I went back to have another look.
Bingo! Engrish! While the former sign had similar meanings in English and Mandarin, and was easy to figure out, I knew that this one would be way off.
“Happiness in the beating”. At a real estate office. I’m imagining you walk in looking for a house, they kick the crap out of you, then offer you a dream home for a great price. You walk out with a smile on your badly smashed up face. And you can’t get mad about it, because the sign clearly states that there will be a beating as well as happiness. You have to take the beating, and see the happiness in it!
Hmmm…what could this possibly mean? A friend of mine mentioned that it might be a Mandarin proverb stating that “Joy comes from the struggle” or “Overcoming adversity brings contentment” – some such thing. This made sense, but I still couldn’t shake the image of black and blue faced Taiwanese walking out of that office with smiles on their faces.
Turns out, the Mandarin in this sign has nothing to do with happiness or beatings. The large characters (鋼琴) mean “piano”. Batches of houses are given names. This batch of houses is called “Piano” batch. The smaller print on the left says “number 5 of Piano batch”.
So, I have no idea why they decided to put up “Happiness in the beating”. It has nothing to do with the other things on the sign, it’s not a proverb, and I really hope it has nothing to do with the business.
I have noticed that sometimes places just put up random English words with no meaning – just because they are English and perhaps seen as fashionable? If that’s the case here, it’s a remarkably unfortunate random selection. But I guess, if you can’t read English, it doesn’t matter.
I think I may go in there and ask them why when my Mandarin is better, but for now it shall remain a mystery, like so many other things in Taiwan.