Getting Shirty - Funny English T-shirts in China

Getting Shirty - Funny English T-shirts in China
adb2014 May 04, 2016 12:16

While you're out and about today, have a look at how many people are wearing English-language t-shirts. Lots, right? The funny lines and squiggles on these shirts will probably have generic or boring slogans (Broadcast News, the Supreme Court of Justice) or sometimes nonsense (Power Girl Pie) but probably nothing too offensive.

Still, I highly  recommend that those who can't read English have someone/thing translate the message to avoid embarrassing mistakes. Here are some notable examples that I've seen in Guangzhou:

1) I don't want to be your friend, I want to be your lover 

I saw this on a young woman in a village about 40 minutes from Guangzhou. She looked somewhere between 20 and 25, slim, presentable and probably would have little trouble getting a boyfriend if she tried. Apparently though, she still felt the need to loudly advertise that she was on the market.

2) My Daddy is my Superhero

This looked cute on my son when he was a year old but a little creepy on a grown man I saw wearing this on the street one day.

3) F**k the Power

It's totally a good idea wearing this openly on the street in China, right? Thankfully for this middle-aged man, most of the local chengguan or police probably couldn't read it either.  

4) Disco Girl

One of my old students, a six-year-old boy, wore this to class at least twice. Even if mum or dad couldn't read the words, the liberal use of soft pink colour, the flowers and the fake sparkles on the shirt should have given a pretty big clue that this was meant for a girl.  

Then there are the shirts with band names and logos that are instantly recognised by Westerners but very few Chinese. About 6 months ago, I noticed my teaching assistant wearing an AC/DC 'Back in Black' t-shirt. I was quite impressed that she was a fan of this Australian rock band and asked her how long she'd been listening to their music.

She looked at me blankly and replied that she didn't know it was a band, she just liked the colour and design of the shirt. I told her what it was then showed her an online clip of AC/DC performing live. The look on her face was priceless and it's safe to say she's never looked at that shirt in the same way again.    

I was having a conversation about this topic with a workmate just recently. He told me that one day a girl of about 12-13 wore a Nirvana t-shirt to class. He did the same thing as me - told her who this band was and played one of their songs. Apparently she was not the least bit impressed and he never saw her wearing that shirt again.     

Tags:General Language & Culture


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I saw a sign that read "No Sightseeing While Walking". WTF!

Nov 02, 2016 16:44 Report Abuse




Jul 28, 2016 15:08 Report Abuse



This situation is very common in China, English are being used everywhere: on T-shirts, bags, pens, cars... No matter people understand them or not, people use them. One of my English teacher once said, wherever she saw some mistakely used English, she instinkly wanted to revise it, but there are way too many.

Jul 04, 2016 15:28 Report Abuse



haha. it's just like when westerners get Chinese tattoos that say silly things like 'fried chicken and rice special'

May 13, 2016 22:14 Report Abuse



you have described the latest trends of dressing here in China but I think there should be ban on the shirts having slang language and abuses also.

May 11, 2016 12:11 Report Abuse



Please add more .BTW nice blog

May 09, 2016 22:15 Report Abuse



Thank you. Now that you mention it, I did see a guy this morning wearing a t-shirt that said 'will you marry me?' in giant letters. He and the 'I don't want to be your friend...' lady might make a nice match, I think.

May 09, 2016 22:53 Report Abuse




May 12, 2016 20:56 Report Abuse