Archive for Found in translation

What's in the sachet?

At my hotel here in Brno, Czechia, the shampoo comes in small sachets, manufactured in Düsseldorf, labeled with the word denoting the contents in a long list of suitable European Union languages. I can't tell you which languages they picked, for reasons which will immediately become apparent. Here are the first four:

  1. Shampoo
  2. Shampoo
  3. Shampooing
  4. Shampoo

Just so you're sure.

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"Do not ignore the mermaids"

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Italy is a dollop

When I wrote the following post, I had an intuition that Yīdàlì 一大粒 ("one big grain / granule / particle / tablet / pellet / kernel / bead / seed"), aside from being a pun for "Italy", meant "one big scoop", and I said as much in the last sentence of the post.

"Italy is one big grain" (9/6/16)

Now, looking into the matter further, I have found that I was right on the mark.

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I am a cat?

[This is a guest post by Nathan Hopson]

Every once in a very long time, machine translation does something sublime. Usually ridiculous, but just occasionally sublime.

Here's what happened to me the other day.

First, let me begin with a mea culpa: I posted a cat video to the internet. Yes, I finally gave in and committed that gravest of sins. Here's the video:

吾輩は珈琲猫である

A video posted by Nathan Hopson (@gojoppari) on

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Germanglish

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The sounds of Eurasia

A concert entitled "Sounds of Eurasia", held in a church, by a youth orchestra I'd never heard of from somewhere in the -stans region of Central Asia, admission being free and unticketed. It didn't sound too great. But I saw a flyer for it at local shopping center on Saturday, and the event was scheduled for that very evening. I showed the flyer to my friend Carol and we decided (since we could hardly complain about the price) that we would be adventurous and risk it. I wasn't confident; I stressed that in the worst-case scenario we might be in for a a slow and painful lesson teaching us only that Central Asian music was a cacophony of strange whiny-sounding horns and out-of-tune one-stringed bowed instruments and was not for us. "Doesn't matter; you can stand almost anything for an hour or so," she said, gamely insisting we should go.

Boy, did we ever misunderestimate. The Youth Chamber Orchestra of TÜRKSOY is stunningly good. It was an amazing evening.

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Translation variation

For the past week, I've been in Paris attending JEP-TALN-RECITAL 2016 ("31ème Journées d’Études sur la Parole — 23ème Conférence sur le Traitement Automatique des Langues Naturelles  — 18ème Rencontre des Étudiants Chercheurs en Informatique pour le Traitement Automatique des Langues). This event certainly takes the prize for the longest acronym of any conference I've ever attended.

Attending a francophone conference gave me a chance to practice what remains of my high-school French, and the content was worthwhile as well — I heard many interesting papers and saw many interesting posters, about which more later. I haven't posted much during the past week because the internet at the conference site was badly overloaded, and the situation at my hotel was not much better. But now at CDG waiting for my flight there's decent connectivity, so here's a little something about signage translation.

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You aim too please

From a men's room at the Beijing airport:


(Source)

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Ask Language Log: German restaurant-name zum?

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).

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Rats, heroes, and zeroes

I have received this notice from several sources in the last few days:

(Source)

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Madame Curry

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".

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That should work well

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Degrees of spiciness

Tim Leonard sent in the following photograph of a Korean restaurant sign:

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