Step into Duolingo’s Museum of Wonky English and Discover the Art of Japanese Mistranslations

Learning a foreign language is not easy, which is why Duolingo has always celebrated its learners’ mistakes as valuable stepping stones to acquiring knowledge. In an effort to create brand awareness, the language learning app today launches the ‘Museum of Wonky English’ (MOWE), the first institution in Japan to shed light on the art of mistranslations.

Created by independent creative agency UltraSuperNew Tokyo, the museum is located at the UltraSuperNew Gallery in Harajuku Tokyo, and is free for anyone wanting to be blown away by sixteen of the best examples of wonky English found all over Japan. The selected pieces display English mistranslations that have given mundane phrases new, surprising meanings.

The hope is that when visitors look at the signs, menus, clothes, and other objects exhibited in the museum—objects that can make them chuckle, gasp, think, and reflect—they will notice there’s more depth to wonky English than they initially thought and become more emboldened to learn a foreign language.

Supporting the campaign is a hero film that invites people to visit the museum and participate in a social activation to share the humorous and interesting mistranslations they come across in daily life on Duolingo’s Twitter channel: @duolingo_japan.  The best submissions will be exhibited in the museum next to the rest of the masterpieces, and those who sent them will be rewarded with a free month of Super Duolingo.

Andrés Aguilar, Associate Creative Director, UltraSuperNew said: “Why do mistakes have such a bad rep? They’re the unsung language-learning heroes, and we wanted this campaign to settle the scores. There’s a treasure trove of meanings you can only access when lost in translation, and that’s what we wanted people to experience in the Museum of Wonky English.”

Francois Claverie, Group Creative Director, UltraSuperNew added: “The beauty of wonky English translations is entirely lost on those who don’t have a good enough command of the English language. Roughly 88 million people in Japan are being left out! By giving them a taste of how wonderful these mistranslations can be, we’re hoping that they’ll give Duolingo a try, to be able to quickly appreciate them by themselves too.”

The Museum of Wonky English is at the UltraSuperNew Gallery, Harajuku, Tokyo, and is open 11am to 7pm everyday from November 29th to December 7th, 2022. 

1-1-3 Jingumae, Shibuya-ku, Tokyo

Japan 150-0001

Source: UltraSuperNew

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