Archive for Lost in translation

*BEEP* vegetables

Chinglish makes an appearance in the "Translators" segment of HBO's Last Week Tonight with John Oliver (10/19):


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"German type sexual harassment"

From the German "Fun Pics und lustige Videos" website isnichwahr.de comes this hilarious photograph of a dish served at the Quansheng Hotel 泉昇大酒店 (I think that it is in Changsha, Hunan):


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Tasteless coffee

From "Signspotting around the world: Funny fails", a "Lonely Planet travel signs" feature of CNN Travel, I have selected an ensemble of four signs to illustrate different types of translation difficulties.

The first was spotted in a Beijing cafe:


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One's deceased father grind

Reader Crystal's friend recently came across the following message which they believe was machine translated from Chinese:  "I'm a junior, ready to one's deceased father grind".

Ready to WHAT?

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Oh my melon!

Bryan Van Norden is a Visiting Professor at Wuhan University this semester, and he ran across an interesting bit of language play. Below is a still (taken with his cell phone) of a television commercial currently running in the PRC. It is for a watermelon juice drink. As you can see, the tag line is a bilingual pun, substituting guā 瓜 ("melon") for "God."


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Applenese2

In "Applenese", we examined the Chinese translations from the Mainland, Taiwan, and Hong Kong of this Apple advertising slogan for Mother's Day last spring:  "A gift Mom will love opening. Again and again."

Now let's see what is done with the new Apple campaign for the iPhone 6, "Bigger than bigger",  in Chinese and other languages.

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Applenese

I remember Apple's Mother's Day advertising campaign for the iPad Air and iPad mini last spring:  "A gift Mom will love opening. Again and again."

I only found out yesterday, in this article, that the Mainland Chinese translation of this tagline is the following:

Ràng māmā kāixīn de lǐwù, kāile yòu kāi.

让妈妈开心的礼物,开了又开.

The grammar cannot be faulted, and the meaning superficially seems to make sense, but the more you think about it, the odder it becomes.  If forced to translate the Chinese translation back into English, I'd come up with something like "A gift that will make Mom happy.  She'll open it again and again."  (Or, for the second sentence, less forced but more awkward:  "She'll be hap[py] again and again.")  That's not what the English says.

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Acronymomania

Michael Newton has called attention to this Chinese sign on Twitter:


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Burial Man: new hero?

Label on a display at the Nagoya City Museum:


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Japanese English trifecta: At the ¥100 Shop

Nathan Hopson reports that he "had a delightfully giggly trip to the ¥100 Shop today."

Among the gems were these three:

1. Pair Bloom (broom), a mini-broom and dustpan set
2. Crash Cashew Nuts (crushed)
3. Q-ban, my favorite. This was actually a whole product line. The shared distinguishing feature of all is their suction cup (吸盤 or きゅうばん [ kyūban]). I guess the only surprise is that they're not called Cubans.

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Can't find on Google

Max Pinton sent in this menu and said he "thought it was a refreshing approach":


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Eco Coke and No Smorking

While we're at it, here are two more contributions from Nathan Hopson in Japan:


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Selfish

Well, Japan doesn't fall to deliver. I assume that this is meant as something like "individual," in the sense of "self-ish," but whether it's word play or misunderstanding is unclear:


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Please pee in the pool

Kenneth Yeh sent in this pair of signs from a restroom in China:


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Transliteration follies

From Arun Tharuvai, via his Twitter account, we find that Intersecting Bubbles has this brief but fascinating post on a multilingual notice:  "Shell Petroleum thinks that Hindi is English written in the Devanagari Script ".

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