Last night, I was browsing an online T-shirt store when I came across this design:
The phrase in pink is 古い学校, which literally translates to ‘old school’. Judging by the context of the design, I’m guessing the designer meant to say ‘old school’ in the retro sense. However, I had a sneaking suspicion that a native Japanese speaker would look at that shirt and wonder what an elderly scholastic institution has to do with cassette tapes.
A quick search on jisho.org confirmed that a better translation would be 旧派.
Also, take note of the sample sentence on the right which further confirms that 古い学校 would be used in the literal ‘old school building’ sense.
Big takeaways here:
- Be very, very, careful about translating phrases word-for-word.
- When buying/selling an article of clothing that has another language on it, make sure it actually says what you think it says.