Untethered Language

Everyone likes a good chuckle at some 'Engrish' – the English language mistakes of the Japanese. But there's actually a myth behind the phenomenon: that they are indeed mistakes.

Could Sega not get a little bit of translation done for this lavish marquee on a top-flight game? Of course they could! But they didn't. It must be by choice.

The English is not there to be read and understood: it's decoration. Wrong English is just a typical case of iitokodori – taking the good bits. They want the appearance, not the meaning. If they wanted people to read this text then it would be in Japanese. What they want is for people to see a storybook just like they might see in a Hollywood movie, or like the Queen might read – a book with some English words on.

(I don't know if Her Majesty reads picture books about sexy fairies, but who am I to judge anyway.)

Photographer and writer covering Tokyo arcade life – the videogames, the metropolis and the people