Archive for Found in translation
From Aaron Powell:
I woke last night with a minor bout of food poisoning and spent some time catching up on Language Log to distract myself ,and it occurred to me that you might be able to explain a German linguistic phenomenon that I don’t understand. I have recently moved from the USA to Vienna, Austria and I’ve noticed several restaurants whose names start with ‘zum’: zum schwarzen Adler, zum schwarzen Kameel, zum schwarzen Baaren, zum englischen Reiter. (If you press me, I’ll tell you which one might have made me ill).
I have received this notice from several sources in the last few days:
Mark Swofford called my attention to this Taipei restaurant, noting the risqué pun in its name: gālí niáng 咖哩娘 (lit., "curry mom"). The restaurant also has the Frenchified Western name "cari de madame".
It could conceivably be a pun for jiālǐ niàng 家裡釀 ("home brew"), but I suspect that Mark had something else in mind. Well, the proprietors tell part of the story themselves here, "A naughty name for insane curry". Read the rest of this entry »
Read the rest of this entry »
— India Knight (@indiaknight) November 17, 2015
Tim Leonard sent in the following photograph of a Korean restaurant sign:
In the 10/4/15 issue of the Chicago Tribune, Eric Zorn has a sympathetic look at Chinglish: "Cultural sensitivity lost — and found — in translation". He offers the following sign at a museum near Datong as a prime specimen:
From Wei comes this photograph of a sign on a deli that they took the other day in Guangzhou:
The trash receptacles on Paris streets consist of suspended transparent plastic bags, printed with two words in large black letters: VIGILANCE (= "vigilance") on top, and PROPRETÉ (= "cleanliness") underneath.
The bags used to be green, but are now clear — and the container of curved metal spokes is new — but the VIGILANCE / CLEANLINESS message has been there for while. And to the extent that I noticed it, I interpreted this motto as a quaint cultural survival, some long-ago authority figure wagging a monitory textual forefinger at the prospect of litter.
Spending a couple of months in Paris frequently exposes me to the wonders of semantic drift. Many of the new French words that I'm learning turn out to be unexpected figurative senses of words that I already knew — though sometimes I need to look them up to realize that I knew them, because the figurative usage is non-obvious.
For example, the picture on the right shows a sign in the window of a local Credit Agricole branch, urging me not to miss the "créneau". What, I wondered, is a créneau, and what would it mean to miss it?
"Beautiful Illustrations of Words with No English Equivalent",Twisted Sifter 5/16/2015.
As usual, many of the translations seem to be somewhat more specifically evocative than the words they translate.
Thus Spanish duende is rendered as "The mysterious power that a work of art has to deeply move a person", whereas the WordReference dictionary gives simply "spirit, magical creature; elf, imp, goblin; magic, charm", and the Collins dictionary gives "goblin, elf; imp; magic; gremlin".
This afternoon at the Jardin du Luxembourg, which is around the corner from where I'm living for the next couple of months: