1. Right, what do Arabic kinda-speakers here think about this–

    اللغة العربية ليست لغة المولد لي

    Where the first 2 words (right to left) are in the big letters above the clouds, the third is in little blue letters, and the final three words are the white letters below the clouds. Works grammatically, preserves the format of the shirt, and I’m pretty sure that لغة المولد is a better translation of “native language” than لغة الام or anything like that.


  2. i would buy at least russian (if it’s right) and french. and probably some more, because i’m a sucker like that.

  3. Esperanto ne estas mia patrinolinvgo!

    And, perhaps slightly less obtuse

    Latina non est linuga materna!

  4. I like the Russian one if it’s correct. How about Swedish: Svensk!
    är inte mit

  5. I would definately purchase the Japanese (if corrected, the above poster is right, it needs some work there), FRENCH (if you make one), maybe Russian, but surely English. Ah, a linguistic-major’s dream.

  6. I think you’d say “denaska lingvo”, not “patrinolinvgo” in esperanto. Then again, esperanto ne estas mia denaska lingvo, but I did meet someone for whom it was (well, one of at least three languages he grew up speaking)

    TOTALLY WOULD BUY the esperanto version, of course.

  7. Don’t listen to the guy who tells you the Chinese is wrong. 汉语 is a totally natural way to say “Chinese” (at least on the mainland — you could also use 华语,国语,or 中文, but you don’t have to) and 母语 is a specific word that means “native language” and you should not fake fix it by adding a superfluous and unnatural 言.

    It’s %100 correct. It’s also a phrase I say every day, usually prefaced with “I’m sorry, but…”


  8. I’d buy the Chinese one in a heartbeat, although it isn’t correct. 中文 is what you should be using, that’s what ‘Chinese language’ is.

  9. Oh man. As an Anglophone living in a Francophone world (my specific neighborhood in Montreal), I would buy 7 of the French shirts (if such a thing were to exist), and wear them, every day.

  10. The only people I’ve ever heard using “hanyu” as a word for “Chinese language” on the main land were non Han people from the south and north east. Everyone in Beijing referred to it as either “Zhong Wen”, which if you’re being formal doesn’t correctly refer to the spoken language, only the written, or Zhong Guo Hua.

  11. Danish? Maybe?

    Dansk er ikke mit modersmål.

    I’m studying in Copenhagen right now, I pass for a Dane (unless I open my mouth), and you have no idea how helpful this shirt would be.

  12. hey, what about something like austrian?

    des is ned wos i normal red.

    wonderful idea – all the best from vienna!

  13. man, love the austrian one. when my austrian and bavarian friends talk with one another it’s like listening to drunks who’ve just had their wisdom teeth removed. then again, they’ve usually been drinking…

  14. Another vote for German!

    Deutsch ist nicht meine Muttersprache!

    I hope these shirts are available forever incase I am ever going to any of those other countries. Heck, I want to go to them now just so I can wear the shirts.

  15. a german or french one would be really nice, too. especially since i could purchase one and wear them on my travels when i’m on educational visits

  16. I love them. I couldn’t choose, though, and that is why Latin is an awesome idea. Too bad you can’t make them all.

  17. Hi all

    I am a professional Arabic language teacher. one of the ways I avoid working on my diss is reading this comic. b margulies I am afraid your translation is off. grammatically incorrect and somewhat colloquial.
    SAM yours is closer, but better, and probably clearest, is:
    اللغة العربية ليست لغتي الأصلية

    translated as ‘the Arabic language is not my original language’

  18. I’d definitely buy the Japanese one if it was corrected as the above poster mentioned — “ではない” is the right ending for it. :)
    What about a Swedish one?

  19. I demand one in arabic. or german. or both.

    but mainly arabic because i would love to have one when i go to morocco this summer

  20. I agree that a French would be good.

    However, the person who first suggested made a mistake… It is “Français n’est pas MA langue maternelle.” Langue is feminine, and the last thing we want is to wear a tee shirt with the wrong gender and be seen by a native French speaker who will then bitch us out in French. ;)

    But these are amazing shirts and I would totally buy a French one! Or, if I ever start learning any of the other languages on my list, any of those as well.

  21. OK, so to quote one of the posts above as it appears on my browser:

    “Also, if I am correct and you were trying to use the formal じゃない (or, moreover, the negative of である) when you wrote 「でない」, let me point out that it should be, if I’m correct, 「ではない」. Yes, it makes no sense, but languages tend to do that. So, this would turn out as 「日本語!は私の母語ではない!」.”

    Hmm. I can see a spin-off range of desktop backgrounds or screensavers or something:


    Is not one of my

  22. I would just like to say that if these come into fruition I will buy the Chinese one in a heartbeat. Thank you.

    Also, my god! Is everyone really that anal retentive and linguistically smart-arsey? As far as I can tell the Chinese one is perfect. I admire your patience.

  23. It would be “¡El español no es mi lengua materna!”
    Great job! I like them all… misspellings make them funnier, I think.

  24. ” ì œ 모국어는 한국어가 아닙니다 ”

    ^This should be correct for a Korean version. Maybe someone can confirm it?

  25. Ha – I’ve just looked at my ‘installed character sets’ post above on a different machine and although what I originally saw and quoted was a load of white squares, they have magically turned back into the correct characters on this one! So the joke fell completely flat. Please substitute a load of white squares for all the non-Roman characters and you’ll get the gist of it.

  26. you could do one in afrikaans, a south african language derived from dutch:

    Afrikaans is nie my moedertaal nie! I would wear it, because I’m married to an Afrikaans man!

  27. I totally love the Chinese one.

    As for the person who said zhongwen is the proper way to say “Chinese”, please disregard that completely. Wen is only used when referring to written languages.

  28. I think for this situation, you can probably get away with でない instead of ではない for the Japanese, but I’d definitely go with 母国語 over 自国語. Looked at literally, the first is mother-country-language where the other one is self-country-language. Self-country-language can sometimes be used as one’s mother language, but… it’s just not as je ne sais quoi, you know? Actually, the main problem I have with the Japanese is the “my” part (私の). In conversational Japanese, you’d probably just go ahead and omit that, since it’s obvious from context. Of course, you might could leave it, since it makes it more “Engrishesque,” but… Also, 私の is very “textbook.” I never use that as the word for my, since I’m a young dude, and it’s more boyish to say ぼくの. But then there’s question of do you want to make a boy version AND a girl version, which might be a bit much. So, omitting the “my” has the advantage of semi-solving the gender question, but it raises the new issue of will the shirt look balanced without the words under the clouds. One way to fix that might be to put the 母国語 as the vertical part and the ではない as the part on the bottom row. Of course, Japanese isn’t my native language, either, so I could be wrong about all this. Heh.

  29. Hmm, I just put “Japanese is not my native language” into a machine translation and got “日本語は私の自国語でない.” Coincidence? Unlikely.

  30. You can delete the first word ‘Het’ of the Dutch version. ‘Nederlands is niet mijn moedertaal!’ is correct grammar and the slogan looks better without it.
    (Btw ‘moedertaal’ literally means mother’s language.)

  31. I’m fairly sure the Swedish should have two t’s and an Ã¥ in “mitt modersmÃ¥l”?

  32. I think the 私の adds to the humor of the Japanese shirt. It keeps up the happy cloud sad cloud poe-faced tone. I’d keep it! If you print these, I think I’d buy one!

  33. Carl: I don’t really think two versions would need to be made if 「僕」was used as the first person pronoun. While it is rather uncommon for females to use it in real life, it’s not unheard of, especially in music, anime and the like. Thus, this being a T-shirt, I don’t think it would really make a difference. My main concern is that the almost casual tone of 「僕」seems to me that it contrasts the very formal tone given off by 「ではない」. It is very possible that I am wrong, but it seems to me that if a first person pronoun is used (and it seems rather vital to the design in this case), then 「私」is probably the best choice in this case.

    Also, a new conundrum is, “Which is better: 「母語」or 「母国語」?” As said, the shirt does have a formal tone, so 「母国語」may be better, but just because japanese isn’t your mother-country-language doesn’t mean it’s not your mother-language. Then again, either way it conveys approximately the same idea of, “I don’t know Japanese that well, if at all.” So, I guess I don’t really know.

    Of course, as I said before, I’m just a student, so I could be completely off.

  34. I want the fish and bike Tee but you don’t have X-Large. Please, make more today!!!

  35. uhh…the Arabic tee pictured for sale now (Monday night) is all backwards. you need to install right-to-left fonts in order for the letters to go in the correct direction and connect properly…

  36. and the actual phrase you are trying to display on the sample shirt is still wrong. see my original post…

  37. Yes, the Arabic shirt is written backwards (arabic text connects and is written right to left). Please correct so I can buy! : )

  38. I can vouch for
    اللغة العربية ليست لغتي الأصلية
    as the proper translation for “Arabic is not my first language”
    I would have put ليس (the negating verb) at the beginning of the sentence to keep Arabic VSO order, but not 100% sure in this case.

    Fully accented would be:
    اللُّغَةُ الْعَرَبِيَّةُ لَيْسَتْ لُغَتِي الأصْلِيَّة

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