Play and Display – 10 Quirky Uses of English Spotted from Abroad

Living abroad, you never know when an innocent stroll around something as mundane as a supermarket can raise a smile.

Today I did double take at my local Pingo Doce (Portugal) when I saw the word ‘doughnut’ written out in a pretty funny way. Could it have been a local employee writing it out phonetically? Is this a ‘thing’ that they do?


A quick Google didn’t yield much – a small mention on Reddit (from a couple of years back, ruling out the employee theory) and another blog on Portugal. A friend of mine on Facebook suggested that it was a trademark for a larger company, but it got me thinking of the various other times when I have been wandering around some place and caught out by more creative (and, let’s face it, hilariously wrong) uses of English in everyday life!

1) Magic Photocopying on a Side Street in Sofia, Bulgaria


I believe this one was somewhere near Borisova Gradina, the large park in the centre of the city. I was walking back to my flat from a nearby shopping centre and I had to stop and take a quick snap.

2) A Pencil Party from Austria


This one raised a few laughs when I showed my teaching colleagues – an Austrian student (I think she was fourteen) housed her pens in this gem of a case. I think they were having a good time.

3) Menu Madness in Moscow

Tongue or ‘language’? Veal tenderness and cancer cervix. You tell me…


4) ?????? in Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam


I stood there for a good minute trying to figure out what in the world they meant by this.

5) Shitty Pizza in Toledo, Spain

I shared a pizza bum with some friends and my sister. It tasted okay.


6) T-Shirt Rudeness in Sofia, Bulgaria

I hadn’t seen these before in England – I assume they wouldn’t go down too well with parents. A great deal of hilarious English can be found on t-shirts sold abroad, but these took a step in the dark direction.


7) A Restaurant that Prejudges in Vietnam

I assumed this one wasn’t intentional, but it did raise a smile when I was placing an order online for dinner one night in HCMC!


8) Plastic Bags that Insult in Italy

Not one for the intelligentsia…


9) Obscene Treats in Russia

For those who don’t read Cyrillic, this is ‘Royal Flat Bread’.


10) The Hotel for Gits in Toledo, Spain

I don’t really know how international the word ‘git’ is, but being brought up on a diet of Only Fools and Horses and insults, this place was a treat.


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