Archive for Lost in translation

The rice is prosperous

Here follows an egregious example of bad machine translation without human intervention to correct or improve it.  This is a listing for a book in Chinese on Amazon.

Pinyin as given in the listing:  dao sheng he fu de jing ying zhi hui [ fu zeng / xue xi shou ce qi che ban lv ]

Chinese characters as given in the listing:  稻盛和夫 经营智慧  [附赠]学习手册 汽车伴侣 (click on the small image of the cover ["See this image"] to embiggen)

English translation as given in the listing:  The rice is prosperous and the management intelligence of the man [present|the study manual car companion ] (this is obviously errant nonsense and of no use to anyone who might want to buy the book)

The listing states that the book is by "unknown (Author)".

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Neoguri: raccoon or raccoon dog?

The typhoon that struck Okinawa a few days ago and is now passing by Tokyo is called Neoguri.  It gets it name from a Korean word meaning "raccoon dog".

The Japanese refer to it as Taifū 8-gō Neoguri 台風8号ネオグ リ ("Typhoon No. 8 Neoguri"), but most often without the "Neoguri" (see below for discussion of Japanese typhoon designation practices).  However, the Chinese are calling it Huànxióng 浣熊 ("raccoon"), which is a clear mistranslation.  The Chinese name for the raccoon dog is hé 貉 or háozi 貉子.

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A "Japanese" supermarket at Peking University

Gianni Wan sent in this photograph of a sign on the front of a popular convenience store at Peking University:


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Greater and lesser conveniences

From Facebook, via Victor Steinbok, comes this notice from Shun Tak Holdings Property Management Limited:


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Chinese Chelsea

Janet Williams sent in this language selection panel from the official Sri Lanka Tourism website:

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Language notes from Macao and Hong Kong

From June 13 until the 18th, I was at a conference on Buddhist culture and society held at the University of Macao.  There were about thirty participants, all except me from East Asia, and the East Asians were about evenly divided among scholars from Taiwan, China, Macao, and Hong Kong, plus one each from Japan and Korea.

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Contraceptive printing room

Gianni Wan sent in this bizarre translation:


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Pan-Romance spelling in San Antonio

Scott Cacciola, "The United Nations of the Hardwood: San Antonio Spurs Use Language Barriers to Their Advantage", NYT 6/15/2014:

The Spurs, as has been well established, have developed an international flair under Coach Gregg Popovich. Eight players on the current roster were born outside the United States. Loosely translated, that means the Spurs use at least four languages — English, Spanish, French and Italian — to communicate among themselves.

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Beat of the person awarded

Steven Marzuola writes:

I am a technical translator and amateur linguist, and Language Log is part of my regular reading.
So is reddit, and tonight it led me to this link, which is a set of pictures taken by a young couple living in China.
They're all interesting, but the one I wanted you to see is the last one:


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Potatoes Torch

Anne Henochowicz spotted this food package in New York Chinatown:


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Barfing in tongues

Gloria Bien sent in this scan of an airsickness bag that she found on Air New Zealand:

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Coarse grains hotel

Libin Zhang sent in the following photograph of a restaurant in Datong, Shanxi Province:

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Steamed native

Commenting on Facebook about Ben Zimmer's Language Log post on the Iraqi "Paul is dead" buffet sign, Anne Erdmann shared this buffet sign from China:

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Paul is dead

From Ajam Media Collective's Facebook page, a surprising buffet sign at Erbil International Hotel in Erbil, the capital of Iraqi Kurdistan:


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Warm Notice

A Hong Kong friend of Jeff DeMarco posted this photograph on Facebook (it's probably from Beijing, but he's not sure about that):


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