Archive for Found in translation

"Rondle it!"

I recently became aware of a viral new meme in China, but didn't know what it meant or even how to pronounce it.  The characters are 盘他, which superficially, literally would seem to mean "plate him / her / it".  Of course, that doesn't make sense, so 盘他 flummoxed me for quite a while.

Since the expression seemed so alien and odd, I thought that maybe the second character had a special topolectal pronunciation and would have pronounced the whole expression as pán tuō, but that was just a wild guess, and it wasn't long before I learned that the term should be pronounced "pán tā", the usual way for those two characters.

I still didn't know what "pán tā 盘他" meant.

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Exploit Africa

Happy and healthy year of the Pig!

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"Whoever does not eat, who can't understand life"

Two images of Chinese takeaway packages in Beijing from Teresa Norman:

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Babies Dismount

Anne Henochowicz spotted this sign in a shopping mall in Central, Hong Kong:

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Please vomit here

Here we go again.  With the 2022 Beijing Winter Olympics coming up, China aims to eliminate Chinglish, and all sorts of negative examples are adduced.  We've covered scores of them on Language Log, but here's one I hadn't seen before:

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Go Believe

Zeyao Wu sent in this sign on a restaurant:

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Creative translation

From Tanner Greer:

I was playing around on The Communist Youth League's Bilibili channel the other day when I came across this video. You'll notice it is an attempt to appropriate an interview with Trump's chief of staff to legitimize Party narratives. Some of things the Party says are fair game, I suppose, but a lot of them revolve around… very creative translations. This is my favorite:

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"Better Dance Than Never"

Jonathan Smith just saw this sticker in 798 Artzone in Beijing:

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Call it what?

Gráinne Ní Aodha, "German students say English exam that asked them to explain Brexit was unfair", The Journal (Dublin) 5/4/2018:

German students have complained that an English exam that asked them to discuss Brexit, among other things, was too difficult and “unfair”.

Over 35,000 people have signed an online petition to voice their opposition to the challenging English paper, saying that the reading comprehensions and current affairs topics were unfair.

Christopher Schuetze, "Thousands of German Students Protest ‘Unfair’ English Exam", NYT 5/5/2018:

Complaining that your final school exams are too tough is a rite of passage — almost a tradition.

But German students in the southwestern state of Baden-Württemberg who hunkered down in April to take pivotal final secondary-school exams have gone a step further in their protests about the English-language portion of the test, which they said was absurd, with obscure and outdated references.

More coverage e.g. here.

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"Subway" in Chinese

Jeff DeMarco saw this sign in Chengdu:

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Bidet for mother and child — not

Jeff DeMarco sent in this Hong Kong sign:

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Indispensable condiment

Valerie Hansen gave me the following package:

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Mixed script photo in the New York Times

From Elijah Granet:

I am writing because of this picture I recently saw on the New York Times website:

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