Plain EngRish #12 : No Smoking

Plain EngRish this week goes out to Asia and its wacky ‘No Smoking’ signs.

For a continent with a rather large smoking population, Asia seems to have an uncanny ability of morphing this common interdiction into some incredibly peculiar EngRish, which differs greatly from one country to the next. Regardless of these differences, however, the result is always the same: highly amusing EngRish.

Let me take you on a little tour of Asia’s ‘No Smoking’ EngRish and you will soon see what I mean.

In Phnom Penh, Cambodia, you are kindly requested not to be smoking;

Or else we be telling you off

While in Bangkok, Thailand;

No Smoking Alcohol... No fair! Wait, is that even possible?

It’s not just plain old smoking that’s to be avoided, but rather the smoking of alcohol that’s a serious no-no in Bangkok.

Thank you to Sophie Teacher for this wonderful EngRish and for bringing Thailand to thePlain EngRish Hall Of Fame! (here’s another gem Sophie generously shared back in week #3).

*Side note:  Call me square for not knowing, but Sophie’s EngRish photo got me wondering if smoking alcohol is possible? It’s liquid, so you’d think not, but then again it is flammable, so perhaps there’s something to it. To settle my debate (with myself) I did what any child of the internet would do and turned to google. Unsurprisingly I’m not the only one to have wondered such a thing and, as the google search results show, it seems that it is indeed possible to smoke alcohol (well, the vapors, which, in hindsight, is not in the least surprising).  Maybe Thailand is onto something with this one after all! Kids… don’t try this at home.

Speaking of random things you’re banned from smoking, let’s zip across to Nepal to the holy town of Lumbini – the birthplace of Buddha;

No smoking plastic in Lumbini... but feel free to puff on your plastics anywhere else.

Yep, in Lumbini it’s smoking plastic that ‘are’ strictly prohibited:

“Smoking Plastic are strictly prohibited in the holy Birthplace of Lord Buddha Sacred Lumbini. We would like all the visitors to use only Dustbin for disposite of plastic waste materials.”

…. I wonder if they’d mind you smoking alcohol in Lumbini?

And finally to Tokyo, Japan;

SmoRking... dangerous stuff.

Where recent studies have shown that SmoRking is, in fact, far more hazardous to your health than smoking… so glad Japan has clued on and let us in on this important fact.

Have you seen an EngRish ‘No Smoking’ sign or any other EngRish gold you’d like to share?  If so, email your photo to with details on where you found your EngRish and a link back to your site if you’re that way inclined.

Until next week…

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