Archive for Found in translation

Help wanted in Srinagar

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Joe Chen Buns

From Wei comes this photograph of a sign on a deli that they took the other day in Guangzhou:

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Vigilance — Cleanliness

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.

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Your appointment smells of elderberries

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?

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Illustrated translations of the untranslatable

"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".

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Forbidden Lawn

This afternoon at the Jardin du Luxembourg, which is around the corner from where I'm living for the next couple of months:

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Scoop the poop

Photograph of a sign in Taipei, Taiwan sent in by Chuck Cook:

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Smartisan T1

Video for a new Chinese electronic watch, submitted by Stephen Hart:


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New, blue, not tea

A few days ago, next to a Salon de Thé in Bercy Village in Paris, I saw out of the corner of my eye a large poster showing a seriously blue young man labelled as "THE AVENER".

My first thought was, hmm,  interesting that French yuppies are so seriously into the personification of tea. But then I read the notice in the lower left-hand corner: a new album is available under the name "THE WANDERINGS OF THE AVENER".

I quickly figured out that this is not a new tea promotion, it's a French musician, originally Tristan Casara from Nice, who's adopted an English name for himself and for his first album, which his web site describes as "a sophisticated electro manifesto in the spirit of St Germain and his Boulevard’s nu-jazz sampling, reconciling the styles of Moby and Wankelmut, King Britt and Cassius…"

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Colorado cuisine inspiration

I'm in Paris for a few days, and walking a few hundred meters to dinner with friends last night I happened to pass a couple of indications of the influence of American culture on vernacular food in France. One was a small sandwich shop offering "hod dogs", and another was this illuminated sign on the side of a bus-stop shelter:

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Look correct

From reddit, a road sign in Leopardstown that translates English "Look right" to something like Irish "Look at correct":


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Expendables 3: World Series

There are some intriguing features about this Japanese poster for Expendables 3:

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All work and no play

Richard W sent in this photograph of the packaging for a keyboard / case that he recently bought to go with his iPad:

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