Archive for Lost in translation

China flushes India

The following photograph of a Beijing shop sign was buried on my desktop for about five years (I think that it originally came to me from Ori Tavor):

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That "moisture dripping wet feeling"

I'm pretty sure this will push some wet buttons among Language Log readers and authors.  Kira Simon-Kennedy found this stellar specimen of Chinglish in a press release from the China-sponsored section of the LA Art Show.

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Wanton soup

In "Wantan soup for überman hubby" (3/15/14), we discussed the miswriting of húntún tāng 餛飩湯 ("wonton soup") as kūnzhūn tāng 䐊肫湯 (which I playfully rendered as "wantan soup"), using the "flesh" radical instead of the "food" radical for both characters. Several of the commenters to that earlier post suggested that "wanton" would have been an appropriate mistranslation to match the miswriting.

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Chicken Asshole Restaurant

Tim Leonard sent in this photograph of a sign for a Korean restaurant:

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"Suffered We Protect They"

I came across this post on a Chinese blog, and it features new propaganda from the Liuzhou Police SWAT Team.

Here's a sample, in case the author's fears of having to take it down are realized:

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Unwearied effort however beefsteak

I spotted this colossal translation fail at the top of the Chinalawtranslate home page.

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Random suit

Nathan Hopson bought this "rain suit" the other day:

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Do not dumb here

This photo was originally posted on Reddit/Imgur in Oct. 2013, but it continues to circulate (Victor Steinbok recently came across it on Facebook):

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Ethanol tampons

Nicki Johnson sent in the following photograph taken in the local Carrefour in Haikou, Hainan, along with this comment: "I was rather horrified until I realized they were not what they claimed to be."

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Lap Sangsouchong

You probably know it as Lapsang Souchong.  It is one of the most vexed and poorly understood of all English names for teas from China, many of which are notoriously difficult to figure out because they arose over a period of several hundred years and derived from numerous different Sinitic topolects.

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Collect Fees Documents at Miss Hot Cafe

Toni Tan writes:

I don't eat out much, but when I do, this is one of my favorite places. The food is spicy; however, I don't think it is cuisine from Szechuan because the dishes aren't oily at all.

The menu items are rather quirkily named (e.g., fish with sour cabbage). In fact, my favorite dish there is called Big Dish — just "Big Dish" — which is an enormous bowl of spicy broth with seafood, tofu, vegetables, and glass noodles.

However, the restaurant's name is what catches everyone's attention and a dead giveaway for why I like it, given my penchant for spicy food.

Their bill holder has also met with much curiosity. I took a picture of their business card and the bill holder for you.

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Silver / aging / senior / whatever industry

Goods and services for senior citizens are a big business in China.  In general, the manufacture and marketing of such products go by the designation lǎolíng chǎnyè 老龄产业.  But, oh, how to render that in English?

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Official Chinglish, with a note on North Korean Juche

What would you think if you encountered terms like this?

Two-oriented Society

Three-zation / Threezation

You might wonder if the people who dreamed them up were high on something when they produced these opaque, unidiomatic renderings.  Yet such terms are official translations of Chinese expressions.  As such, they have entered the stream of global English.

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