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This blog is about the fascinating, fun, and challenging things about the English language. I hope to entertain you and to help you with problems or just questions you might have with spelling and usage. I go beyond just stating what is right and what is wrong, and provide some history or some tips to help you remember. Is something puzzling you? Feel free to email me at wordlady.barber@gmail.com.
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Monday, August 17, 2009

Japanese English

I'm visiting Tokyo and as always being entertained by the "English" that the Japanese use to add prestige to just about everything. Yesterday I was visiting the Kappabashi area, one long street of nothing but restaurant supply stores. There are chair stores, and menu stores, and knife stores, everything you can imagine, even specialized "Plastic food models" stores! My favourites are the confectionery packaging supply stores, where I bought a couple of packages of labels with the following intriguing messages:
Hand Made Cookies CONFECTIONERY BE MADE OF SELECTED MATERIALS THE ORIGINAL HANDMADE
Pound Cake
Have a nice cake! made with full of soul
You have to agree that "full of soul" is a better sounding ingredient than carboxymethyl cellulose. But would it be accepted by Canadian food labelling laws? In any case, my friends will all be getting soulful pound cakes and "confectionery be made of selected materials" in their Christmas gift baskets.
Another store was selling various ingredients (or should that be "materials"?) restaurants would need, including industrial-quantity coffee creamer powder, which of course has to go by a name derived from
"creamy powder". What else could one want but some nice "creap" in one's coffee?

About Me

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Canada's Word Lady, Katherine Barber is an expert on the English language and a frequent guest on radio and television. She was Editor-in-Chief of the Canadian Oxford Dictionary. Her witty and informative talks on the stories behind our words are very popular. Contact her at wordlady.barber@gmail.com to book her for speaking engagements; she can tailor her talks to almost any subject. She is also available as an expert witness for lawsuits.