Engrish is internet slang used to describe esoteric English texts translated from East-Asian languages like Chinese, Japanese and Korean. While it is also applicable in spoken English, most examples of Engrish can be found in the everyday urban landscape of major cities in Asia, where public signs are displayed in English to accommodate Western tourists. Note: Engrish can only be used to describe Asian to English translations.


The term “Engrish” comes from the fact that some Asian languages do not make concrete distinctions between L and R sounds. Other languages do have a consonant that is roughly somewhere in between these two sounds, but whether this translates to L or R in English depends on the situation. As a result, Asian speakers who learn English as a second language later than childhood typically have difficulty in hearing and producing “L” and “R” accurately.


While the humorous concept of Engrish may as well precede the history of Internet altogether, it was first introduced to the Western world during the influx of Japanese videogame imports in the 1980s. It was first introduced as a unique genre of internet humor in 1996, when Steve Caires, an American expat living in Tokyo, began posting pictures of poorly translated commercial signs and designs through his blog. His blog was hosted at various servers like before formally launching under the domain in 1999.

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