When English Textbooks Are Trolls

When English Textbooks Are Trolls

English is a hard language, especially for some Japanese people. The grammar is different. The pronunciation is different. And, sometimes, the textbooks are strange.

Please be aware that I’m not talking about so-called “Engrish”. Often, that’s the result of syntax errors (i.e. using Japanese sentence structure or literal translations in English). Making fun of that is not cool — especially seeing how native English speakers can blurt out some truly odd Japanese sentences.

Also, I’m not talking about the English books aimed at adults or geeks that teach profanity or adult lingo on purpose.

No, what I’m talking about are textbooks with English sentences that are technically correct, but either make no sense or simply seem out of place. In these textbooks, Japanese sentences are typically written under the English examples, and those sound pretty strange, too. It’s like the textbooks are trolling the students.

Other times, such as below, the textbooks are “too easy”.

These photos are apparently from a university entry-level English textbook. When the pics originally appeared on 2ch, Japan’s largest forum, the textbook was widely ridiculed for being way too simple. Know that Japanese people must start studying English from junior high school and need to take an English language exam to get into college.

The textbooks’ shortcomings are blamed partly for the inability of the country’s education system to churn out skilled English students. But online, some have a good sense a humour about all this. When people in Japan find funny and peculiar things in textbooks, they might post them online to share and snicker.

Most of the examples below puzzle Japanese people, because the sentences sound strange or the pictures are oddly humorous.

Have a look. You might have seen some of these before, including one I previously posted:

“I would rather eat a book than eat your cooking!” does sound like a badass thing to say after a fight.

Sources: 2ch, 2cham, AKB48g, おもちゃ, じゃみlog, 瑠華はお絵かき練習中, 日刊 安頓写真ブログ, 2ch, ねこた, らいず, riekkunti, りぶりー@C84行きたい会場, 妹ろわる, いろいろ, 爆笑テスト

Culture Smash is a regular dose of things topical, interesting and sometimes even awesome — game related and beyond.


  • “Are you a student?”
    “No, I’m not. I’m a ghost.”
    A Ghost? Oh, no! Goodbye.

    If I had books like this when I was in school, I’d have never wanted to leave.

  • Dont be so easily offended Bashcraft, Engrish can often be very funny! The Japanese are just as quick to pick on us for silly little things, not to mention their institutional racism. But we love each other anyway, so go cry about something else.

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