As an ESL teacher, I come across lots of creative English. While my students produce their fair share of it, I am not writing to ridicule them. They are trying, and when they make the effort, mistakes are just mile markers in their improvement. I certainly wouldn’t laugh at them. I’ve been on the other side of that dynamic, and I appreciated teachers who helped and encouraged, not ridiculed.
However, when this creative English is adorned on notebooks and pencil cases they have brought with them from their countries….well, that’s a different matter all together. You’ve probably heard of Engrish. That is, English created in Asia (hence the mixing of the l and r sound), mostly as marketing. I am sure if you do a search, you will find some classic examples. A lot of the “cutesy” fashion from Asia features interesting English. I used to get frustrated, wondering why it couldn’t be fixed. These days, I am looking for the ultimate Engrish…but that’s another story.
Today, absentmindedly, I reached for one of my student’s notebooks. I expected to read some butchered platitude. Instead, the following was written on her notebook.
Happiness is a journey, not a destination.
Dance, as though no one is watching.
Love, as though you have never been hurt before.
Sing, as though no one can hear you.
Work, as though you don’t need the money.
Live, as though heaven is on earth.
First of all, I was impressed that the English was so correct. This is probably some famous quote (I should look for it, but I am tired and I need to go to bed). If you are reading this and you are the author, sorry for posting it here. Also, you might be able to sue some Korean publishing company.
The other thing is, I actually really liked this. I smiled when I read it. It isn’t that it is so deep, because it isn’t. However, seeing it there, when I wasn’t expecting it, and wasn’t expecting it to be correctly written, was rather perfect. It all makes sense despite the fact that it was meant to be more decorative than profound. It is rather simple, but that is kind of beautiful.
If I had to pick one of those lines, the one that moves me the most is the third one. I suspect that it is the hardest of these things to live up to. Perhaps that is why I single it out.