WTF Weds: English Language T-Shirts in Europe

Posted on
Apr 16, 2014
Posted in: WTF, WTF Wednesdays

I’ve noticed a continual trend whenever I visit Europe, and it’s getting downright bizarre: t-shirts with non-sensical English words on them.

I know that this isn’t new – there are entire blogs dedicated to this stuff, but usually it occurs in Asian countries that use a non-Roman alphabet, so the discrepancy sort of makes sense, and it’s very much a two-way street: I knew plenty of girls in college who didn’t speak a lick of Japanese but that didn’t stop them from getting tattoos of what they claimed were the kanji symbols for “harmony” and “happiness.”

I have no idea how they verified that.

But the thing is, practically everyone in Europe speaks English. And they speak it very, very well. And yet there are still lots of shirts like this:

It says (in case you have trouble reading it): “DON’T WORRY BE SEXY -1969- SUPREME LIFE.”

Yes. Of course. You guys, I can’t even begin to tell you how many times I’ve been stressed about something, and decide to amp up the sexiness to combat it. So instead of filing my taxes, I shave my legs and put on some red lipstick. Yup. Totes supreme life. 1969.

I found that shirt, along with the rest of these in a shop in downtown Munich. Each one was more baffling than the next.

Syntactically speaking, this is problematic, at best:

THIS DIDN’T EVEN MAKE SENSE BEFORE THINGS WERE SCRATCHED OUT ON IT.

I keep thinking that there’s more to it – like the sentences somehow got cut-off halfway through.

“We do all the things we love, but it’s too late … to do some of them right now. Like going to Dairy Queen (it closed 3 hours ago).”

For the record, I would totally wear a shirt that said that.

This one almost passes for normal:

 Until you actually start thinking about it, at which point you run the risk of your head exploding.

Let’s ignore the random capitalization of key words and phrases (GaH, WHAT why?) and just focus on the text of the shirt itself:

“You make me happy.”

Okay. Fine. A little weird, but whatever.  Then:

“Paris since 1984.”

NONE OF THAT MEANS ANYTHING. The only thing I could find which links those two concepts is that the movie Paris, Texas came out in 1984. Which led me down an internet rabbit hole and twenty minutes later, I was looking up photos of a young Dean Stockwell. Which was delightful (Dean was a dish), but did not shed any light on the aforementioned shirt.

Moving on, this seems like the most innocuous one of the bunch:

It says “Voyage” in huge red letters. Okay. Fine. I’m okay with weird brand names. It’s the tagline in the corner that’s got me totally bewildered.

“LIFE IS JUST A DREAM

CATCH IT NOW”

I … I just don’t even … WHAT? It’s like poetry written by a drunk 11-year-old. You guys know how I feel about 11-year-olds and drinking and poetry.

Drunk poetry is okay.

11-year-olds writing poetry is okay.

11-year olds writing poetry while drunk is NOT OKAY AND MAKES FOR REALLY WEIRD T-SHIRTS.

And yet, the more I stare at them, the more I struggle to understand what, exactly, these shirts are trying to tell me, the more magical they become.

I wish I had bought one. Or two. Or all four.

Life is just a dream, you guys. Catch it now.

Leave a Comment

  • Brittany

    Once in Spain I saw a girl wearing a Run DMZ t-shirt. I tried to give the benefit of the doubt, perhaps it was some sort of local Spanish tribute rap group? However, the more I think about it now, especially in relation to this post, the more I think that poor girl and the original t shirt maker were just wrong wrong wrong.

    • Everywhereist

      Maybe it was commentary on the state of politics between North and South Korea, and the demilitarized zone (DMZ) between the two?

      “Run! DMZ!”

  • Ha! I actually do this FOR A JOB. For real. I’ve been a fashion graphic designer in the UK for high volume commercial brands for the last 10 years. After your 10th annual “I know! Why don’t we do a new take on nautical! that would be so WILD!” (yawn) you kinda start running out of fresh, relevant cohesive words to put on t-shirts. That is, words that haven’t already been copy-written by Converse (Did you know you cannot use the word ‘academy’ on a tee? Someone’s gonna take your ass to court if you do)

    After a while of trying to conjure up some new wording it all becomes a bit Alice-through-the-looking-glass-trippy and before you know it, “life is just a dream – catch it now” starts to sound pretty darnn snappy. In fact, I’ve actually just written that in my notebook for later…..

    But yeh. You make a good point. It’s magical nonsense and I’m guilty of it….

    • Everywhereist

      Fact:

      1.) I am so jealous. That sounds like basically the best job ever.

      2.) I want to hang out with you and learn more. SUPREME LIFE!

      • Hmm, I don’t know. Today I had to do a cats-wearing-accessories graphic (par for the course) and had to decide whether to go with “I want it all and I want it meow”… or “Meow you doin’?

        I almost wish I was making this up.

        If you are ever in the English East Midlands, look me up. We could hang out and you could help me devise the world’s most obscure slogans….

  • PierreTW

    Dear gods!! I’ve been living in Asia too long (over a decade now), but all of those actually made sense to me. At least they do not seem to be age inappropriate phrases or random four-letter words embellished with cute animals or flowers.

  • LMAO funny post as always!!! Completely agree with this drunk kids and poetry…. NOT OKAY!!!

  • Pedro Calderón de La Barca–17th century Spanish writer famously wrote:
    “All of life is a dream. And dreams are dreams. ” Gives me goosebumps. But I’ve never seen it on a T shirt.

  • The best shirt I have is one from Spain with a squirrel and the words: Don’t take me pictures.

    Which means (best case scenario) the t-shirt producer anthropomorphized an Irish squirrel.

  • Kristina Cline

    Use the Voyage t-Shirt as your book cover. It totally works, catch em all .

  • When I was in Spain years ago I saw one that said, “I’m a virgin, do me a favor.” And it was in a kind of Forever 21 type shop. WTF indeed.

  • Jennifer

    My friend says this craziness is all over Spain where many people don’t speak English. She is often flabbergasted.

  • Nikki

    At least some of this stuff makes sense, try living in China! I have a girl who comes to class in a tshirt that reads like the weirdest steakhouse menu known to man!

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