"Please be careful to forget valuables" has received the Sign Language Award at the Amazing English Hunt 2005 awards, the English-Speaking Union of Japan, a nonprofit organization to promote international exchanges through English, and eigoTwown.com, which runs a Web site offering English education information, said Wednesday.
The awards, jointly sponsored by the two groups, are designed to spotlight the amusing, unnecessary, embarrassing, exceptionally creative or just bizarre attempts at English in Japan, said ESUJ Chairman Masamichi Hanabusa, a former government spokesman and ex-ambassador to Italy.
From January to November last year, the groups received more than 120 photo submissions from Japanese and foreign residents highlighting the use, or rather misuse, of the language.
The Sign Language Award winner was found in a restaurant in Hokkaido, the groups said. Hanabusa said it made it seem like someone was hoping to make a little money on the side by selling customers' belongings.
The Careful What You Say Award went to "Relax Place Pee Pee Kaa Kaa."
This was discovered near the entrance to a resort hotel in Yomitan, Okinawa, said eigoTown.com CEO Russel Willis, one of eight judges for the awards along with British Ambassador to Japan Sir Graham Fry, freelance broadcaster Peter Barakan and ESUJ board member Susan Millington.
One can only guess at why anyone would want to use such childish words for their establishment. This entry was chosen over several examples that were "not fit to print," Willis noted.
The What's in a Name Award went to the NHK program BS News. Hanabusa said the name suggested less than trustworthy news sources, as BS is common English shorthand for the vulgar term bullshit.
The Non-Appetizing Award went to "The Dish of a Prejudice!" This was the sign for a restaurant in Shizuoka Station. Barakan said "it gets your imagination working overtime."
The Only in Japan Award winner was: "Thank you for always using a restroom neatly. If there was a mat, the point that mind is with it please order it to a sales clerk. A restroom becomes a prohibition of smoking. Please refrain from a cigarette. The damage of a pervert goes in a peripheral district and now plain clothes policeman goes around it and hits caution Hello. In crime prevention the staff uses a restroom too. Please approve it I beg you to understand my position. -- a store keeper."
"The Japanese judges pointed this out as one of many examples of how language meant to put Japanese customers at their ease just sounds silly and unnecessary when translated," Willis said of the senseless verbiage. "And in this case the translation itself leaves a lot to be desired."
The "Cool Biz" and "Warm Biz" campaigns received a Special Commendation. The two terms, recommended by Fry, were unique examples of good and creative use of English.