Archive for translation

"Poop"

[This is a guest post by Nathan Hopson]

Yes, the following image from the most recent Weekly Playboy (週刊プレイボーイ Shūkan Pureibōi; not a regional edition of Hugh Hefner's Playboy), is labeled "Poop":

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Gambling Disturb Terrible

A friend of Anne Henochowicz spotted this T-shirt in an Akihabara, Tokyo shop:

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Look at me

In his meeting with Japanese Prime Minister Shinzō Abe, President Trump received contradictory instructions about where to look.

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Sun-moon mountain-wood

Boris Kootzenko was intrigued by this sign in China:

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Bastard, douchebag, whatever

Here and here are links (South China Morning Post [SCMP] and the Chinese website of a German radio channel) re yesterday’s surprising statement by Judge HE Fan of China’s supreme court calling President Trump a "public enemy of the rule of law".

The story is being well covered by the international media (NYT, The Independent, ABC News), so I won't repeat all the details readily available there.  Here I wish only to concentrate on a term of disapprobation that Judge He applied to Trump when he referred to him as “ègùn 恶棍”, which SCMP translates as “bastard”.

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Why electronic machine translation services sometimes seem to fail

The inability of Google Translate, Microsoft Translator, Baidu Fanyi, and other translation services to correctly render jī nián dàjí 鸡年大吉 ("may the / your year of the chicken be greatly auspicious!") in various languages points up a vital distinction that I have long wanted to make, and now is as good a time as ever.  Namely, just as you could not expect these translation services to handle Cantonese, Shanghainese, Taiwanese, etc. (unless specifically and separately programmed to do so), we should not expect them to deal with Literary Sinitic / Classical Chinese (LS / CC).

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Chicken is down

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Particle amnesia

[This is a guest post by Nathan Hopson]

I know you've written a lot about character amnesia in the greater Sinosphere. But I think I witnessed the related, but significantly different, phenomenon of (grammatical) particle amnesia (or perhaps, "drift") during a recent trip to Hawaii.

As you know, Hawaii has a large nikkei* population. This is especially true in and around Honolulu, where I was for the Japanese Studies Association conference last week. In addition to an extraordinary number of Japanese tourists, Oahu is home to nisei,** sansei,*** and many people of mixed heritage. Japanese signs abound, and Japanese is spoken in many hotels, restaurants, and stores.

[*an American of Japanese descent.]
[**second generation; ***third generation]

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IBM's "THINK" motto

Photograph taken by Hervé Guérin in the main lobby of IBM France:

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Chinese lung cancer poeticizes in English

For several days I've been aware of a strange poem that has gone viral in China:

"Read The Smog-Inspired Poem That China Can't Stop Talking About" (NPR, 1/12/17)

The strangeness of the poem is due to its being written from the perspective of lung cancer and addressed to the patient.  You judge for yourself — here's the complete poem:

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Year of the cock

For some reason, the Chinese have taken to comparing President Elect Trump to a rooster, this year's symbol in the 12-year cycle of the zodiac.


A giant chicken sculpture outside a shopping mall in Taiyuan, north China's
Shanxi province, that looks like US president-elect Donald Trump Getty Images

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Haifa subway station names

In several recent posts, I have pointed out how Chinese and Japanese announcements and greetings for foreigners are often pronounced in a special way that deviates markedly from what Chinese and Japanese would say to each other:

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Po Chai Pills

Stephen Hart sent in this scan of a box containing medicine that he bought in Malaysia in 1972:

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