Learn English Vocabulary

Learn English - English Howlers

More terrible English mistakes from around the world


Africa | Australasia | America | Asia | Canada | Europe | Middle East | Unknown
Here are some lovely howlers from various countries.

Africa

In an East African newspaper: A new swimming pool is rapidly taking shape since the contractors have thrown in the bulk of their workers.

America

In an Acapulco hotel: The manager has personally passed all the water served here.

Notice outside an American factory: "CLOSING DOWN, THANKS TO ALL OUR CUSTOMERS."

Sign in an American hospital "GUARD DOGS OPERATING."

Sign in a bargain basement store "DON'T GO INTO ANOTHER SHOP TO BE CHEATED - COME IN HERE."

Sign outside a Mexican disco "MEMBERS AND NON-MEMBERS ONLY."

Sign in a Mexican city hotel "BROKEN ENGLISH SPOKEN PERFECTLY."

Law in Kansas: When two trains approach each other at a crossing, they shall both stop and neither shall start up until the other has gone.

Sign in an American drapery shop "GENTS' TROUSERS SLASHED"

Sign in an American chemists "WE DISPENSE WITH ACCURACY"

Asia

In a Tokyo shop: Our nylons cost more than common, but you'll find they are best in the long run.

On a string of Chinese-made Christmas lights - For indoor or outdoor use only.

Sign in an Indian restaurant "AFTER ONE VISIT WE GUARANTEE YOU WILL BE REGULAR"

From a Japanese information booklet about using a hotel air conditioner: Cooles and Heates: If you want just condition of warm in your room, please control yourself.

On the label of a Taiwanese shampoo - USE REPEATEDLY FOR SEVERE DAMAGE.

From a brochure of a car rental firm in Tokyo: When passenger of foot heave in sight, tootle the horn. Trumpet him melodiously at first, but if he still obstacles your passage then tootle him with vigor.

In a Tokyo Hotel: Is forbidden to steal hotel towels please. If you are not a person to do such thing is please not to read notis.

Detour sign in Kyushi, Japan: Stop - Drive Sideways

On the box of a clockwork toy made in Hong Kong: Guaranteed to work throughout its useful life.

This is a blurb from a chocolate bar wrapper in Japan: Soft and mild, like a Japanese woman. Good flavor and full of juice.

Advertisement for donkey rides in Thailand: Would you like to ride on your own ass?

On a Korean kitchen knife - "WARNING KEEP OUT OF CHILDREN."

In a Bangkok bar: It is forbidden to enter a woman even a foreigner if dressed as a man.

Sign outside a Bangkok bar "THE SHADIEST COCKTAIL BAR IN TOWN."

In a Tokyo bar: Special cocktails for the ladies with nuts.

From Singapore: Sir Loin steak with potato cheeps.

Sign in a Sri Lankan swimming pool "DO NOT USE THE DIVING BOARD WHEN THE SWIMMING POOL IS EMPTY."

In an advertisement by a Hong Kong dentist: Teeth extracted by the latest Methodists.

From Macao: Utmost of chicken fried in bother.

Outside a Hong Kong tailor shop: Ladies may have a fit upstairs.

In a Japanese hotel: You are invited to take advantage of the chambermaid.

In a Bangkok dry cleaner's: Drop your trousers here for best results.

Australasia

Label on a New Zealand insect spray - "THIS PRODUCT NOT TESTED ON ANIMALS."

Canada

This is a story about a mistake a politician made in French.
Canada's Prime Minister in the late 50's and early 60's was John Diefenbaker, notorious in the French-speaking province of Quebec for his horrible French pronunciation, (he couldn't speak French, he just read it out loud.) One day, he was expressing his appreciation for having been invited to attend a ceremony in Quebec. He mispronounced the word "appreciate" in French. In English, it's pronounced "appree-shee-ate" but in French they say "appréciez" pronounced "appray-see-aye". He actually pronounced it, "appray-shee-aye", which means "after having shit". So, what his French audience heard was, "After having shit, I am pleased to be here." Thanks to Tim Penner.

Europe

In the lobby of a Moscow hotel across from a Russian Orthodox monastery: You are welcome to visit the cemetery where famous Russian and Soviet composers, artists, and writers are buried daily except Thursday.

German-English text book - After a certain time cheques are stale and cannot be cashed. (Business English from A-Z Page 53)

Notice on a soup terrine in a German cash and carry store (called Metro) - Erbsensuppe | Pie Soup - I think it should have been pea soup.

Sign in a travel agents in Barcelona "GO AWAY!"

Sign in a Paris restaurant "WE SERVE FIVE O'CLOCK TEA AT ALL HOURS."

Sign in a French swimming pool "SWIMMING FORBIDDEN IN THE ABSENCE OF A SAVIOUR."

In a Paris hotel elevator: Please leave your values at the front desk.

From a restaurant in France: A sports jacket may be worn to dinner, but no trousers.

On the menu of a French restaurant - egg - "an extract of fowl, peached or sunside up."

Sign in a hotel in Ankara "PLEASE HANG YOUR ORDER BEFORE RETIRING ON YOUR DOORKNOB."

Two signs from a Majorcan shop entrance:
- English well talking.
- Here speeching American.

In a Copenhagen airline ticket office: We take your bags and send them in all directions.

Sign in a British school "IF YOU THINK YOU'VE GOT A PROBLEM, YOU SHOULD SEE THE HEAD."

Sign in a British hospital "DANGEROUS DRUGS MUST BE LOCKED UP WITH THE MATRON."

Sign outside a British night club "CLOSED TONIGHT FOR SPECIAL OPENING."

In a British community centre "VISITORS WITH READING DIFFICULTIES SHOULD PROCEED TO FRONT DESK FOR INFORMATION."

Advert in a British shop window "HOME WANTED FOR FRIENDLY LABRADOR. WILL EAT ANYTHING - LOVES CHILDREN."

On the door of a Moscow hotel room: If this is your first visit to the USSR, you are welcome to it.

Sign in a hotel in Madrid "IF YOU WISH DISINFECTION ENACTED IN YOUR PRESENCE, CRY OUT FOR THE CHAMBERMAID"

In a Norwegian cocktail lounge: Ladies are requested not to have children in the bar.

In a Budapest zoo: Please do not feed the animals. If you have any suitable food, give it to the guard on duty.

From Budapest: All rooms not denounced by twelve o'clock will be paid for twicely.

In the office of a Roman doctor: Specialist in women and other diseases.

On the menu of a Swiss restaurant: Our wines leave you nothing to hope for.

In a Swiss mountain inn: Special today -- no ice cream.

In a Swiss restaurant: Our wines leave you nothing to hope for.

In an Austrian hotel catering to skiers: Not to perambulate the corridors in the hours of repose in the boots of ascension.

Sign on lion cage at a Czech zoo "NO SMOOTHEN THE LION."

On the menu of a Polish hotel: Salad a firm's own make; limpid red beet soup with cheesy dumplings in the form of a finger; roasted duck let loose; beef rashers beaten up in the country people's fashion.

In a Bucharest hotel lobby: The lift is being fixed for the next day. During that time we regret that you will be unbearable.

In a Leipzig lift: Do not enter the lift backwards, and only when lit up.

In a Belgrade hotel lift: To move the cabin, push button for wishing floor. If the cabin should enter more persons, each one should press a number of wishing floor. Driving is then going alphabetically by national order.

In a hotel in Athens: Visitors are expected to complain at the office between the hours of 9 and 11 A.M. daily.

In a Rome laundry: Ladies, leave your clothes here and spend the afternoon having a good time.

In a Czechoslovakian tourist agency: Take one of our horse-driven city tours - we guarantee no miscarriages.

In a Balkan hotel: The flattening of underwear with pleasure is the job of the chambermaid.

In a Vienna hotel: In case of fire, do your utmost to alarm the hotel porter.

From a restaurant in Vienna: Fried milk, children sandwiches, roast cattle and boiled sheep.

From the Soviet Weekly: There will be a Moscow Exhibition of Arts by 150,000 Soviet Republic painters and sculptors. These were executed over the past two years.

Sign in an Istanbul hotel "TO CALL ROOM SERVICE, PLEASE OPEN THE DOOR AND CALL ROOM SERVICE."

From a Yugoslavian elevator: Let us know about an unficiency as well as leaking on the service. Our utmost will improve it.

Outside a Paris dress shop: Dresses for street walking.

In a Rhodes tailor shop: Order your summers suit. Because is big rush we will execute customers in strict rotation.

A sign posted in Germany's Black forest: It is strictly forbidden on our black forest camping site that people of different sex, for instance, men and women, live together in one tent unless they are married with each other or that purpose.

In a Zurich hotel: Because of the impropriety of entertaining guests of the opposite sex in the bedroom, it is suggested that the lobby be used for this purpose.

Rhodes tailor shop: Order your summer suit. Because is big rush, we will execute customers in strict rotation.

Portuguese patent agent: 'It will not be necessary to state the name and address of the inventor if the applicant is not himself.'

On the faucet in a Finnish toilet: To stop the drip, turn cock to right.

In the window of a Swedish furrier: Fur coats made for ladies from their own skin.

On a Soviet ship in the Black Sea: Helpsavering apparata in emergings behold many whistles! Associate the stringing apparata about the bosoms and meet behind. Flee then to the indifferent lifesavering shippen obediencing the instructs of the vessel chef."

Middle East

Sign in a Tel Aviv Hotel "IF YOU WISH BREAKFAST, LIFT THE TELEPHONE AND OUR WAITRESS WILL ARRIVE. THIS WILL BE ENOUGH TO BRING UP YOUR FOOD."

Unknown origin

On a medicine bottle: Adults: 1 tablet 3 times a day until passing away"

Sign in a greengrocers "PLEASE DON'T HANDLE THE FRUIT. ASK FOR DEBBIE."

Sign in a furniture shop "WE STAND BEHIND EVERY BED WE SELL."

Instructions with a hair dryer "WARNING: NEVER USE WHILE SLEEPING."

Sign in a hotel lift "PLEASE DO NOT USE THIS LIFT WHEN IT IS NOT WORKING."

Sign on a building site "NIGHT WATCHMAN PATROLS THIS AREA 24 HOURS A DAY."

Sign in a dry-cleaners "IF YOU FEEL WE HAVE FAILED YOU IN ANY WAY WE SHALL BE ONLY TOO PLEASED TO DO IT AGAIN AT NO EXTRA CHARGE."

Directions for mosquito repellent: Replacing battery - Replace the old battery with a new one.

Sign in a jewellery shop "OUR GIFTS WILL NOT LAST LONG AT THESE PRICES."

Sign in a hotel "ALL FIRE EXTINGUISHERS MUST BE EXAMINED AT LEAST TEN DAYS BEFORE ANY FIRE."

On a hotel provided shower cap in a box - "FITS ON HEAD."

Sign in a beauty parlour "EARS PIERCED WHILE YOU WAIT. PAY FOR TWO AND GET ANOTHER ONE PIERCED FREE."

Book title - CORRECTLY ENGLISH IN 100 DAYS (allegedly this textbook is cited in Mario Pei's (1952) The Story of English, page 174. Thanks to Chris.)

Do you know why they are wrong? Do you know what they should have said? Do you know of any more howlers? Discuss it on the forum.
Click here for a collection of common mistakes and their explanation.
Click here for a list of common American English and British English differences
Click here for a collection of real horror mistakes made by some of the best known companies in the world.
Click here for a collection of medical howlers.

 

 

 

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