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?

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Dawnuts!

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

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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

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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…

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

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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.

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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.

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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!

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8) Plastic Bags that Insult in Italy

Not one for the intelligentsia…

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9) Obscene Treats in Russia

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

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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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