It’s amusing to see people over here in Japan wearing clothes bearing ridiculous pseudo-English (or should I say Engrish) slogans. It’s not just clothes either; hardly any product is considered complete without some absurd tagline or quatrain of gibberish.

Immediately around me, I can find a bottle of beer imploring me to “Relax and enjoy Fine taste beer"; apropos tissues, I can sleep easy knowing that “Hoxy will always offer you a rich and comfortable life with paper”. My USB flash memory keyring (a useful floppy replacement at JPY 500 for 8MB) informs me on the package that “It is comfortable!” Unless you are smuggling the data in a really intimate place, I can’t see that it’s an issue, but I am now growing suspicious about the organically contoured case design...

Conversely, I am entertained when I see people back in the UK with upside down, back to front or simply meaningless Chinese characters on their clothes. Worst of all (or best?) are those people with badly drawn or nonsensical Chinese characters tattooed on their bodies. My favorite was a (male) dancer on Top Of The Pops with three large black characters on his arm. The bottom character was obscured, but the first two, “小男”, meant “small man”. I don’t think that’s what he wanted to say, surely! A Japanese friend also told me of a Canadian acquaintance who showed her his tattoo—and who was apparently shocked to learn that “売春” means “prostitution”. Apparently, he thought it was something else. There’s a nice collection of related urban legends over at Snopes, but for maximum entertainment read a true story from last year, widely reported at the time!

Anyway, back to the present. As far as Greek goes, my knowledge is very limited. Specifically, it’s limited to insults and swearing! So I was rather surprised by what I saw on Japanese TV last weekend. The latest Sunday night drama series starring the ubiquitous Kimutaku ( Kimura Takuya, a popular and admittedly handsome young actor), this time as a dashing airline pilot. He was wearing a t-shirt with “ΜΑΛΑΚΑ” ("malaka") written across it. I believe that this translates as “wanker"!

Oh dear!