Enter here

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From Bob Sanders comes this sign at a burger joint in the Melbourne, Australia airport:


The Chinese says:

qǐng zài cǐ shūrù 請在此輸入
(“please enter [text / account number / password / name] here”)

Here I give Google Translate a lot of credit, because it knows that you have to enter something after the transitive verb shūrù 輸入:  “Please enter it here”.  The other major online translation services just offer “Please enter here” for qǐng zài cǐ shūrù 請在此輸入.

For the intransitive verb “enter” in Mandarin you would say jìnrù 進入.

As a Chinese person might say upon encountering this sign, “Wǒ de gāodé 我的高德!” (“My God!”).  It gets really funny when you translate “Wǒ de gāodé 我的高德!” — which is a translation-transcription of “My God!” — back into English:

Baidu Fanyi — “My Gao De”

Bing Translator — “My Gaud”

Google Translate:  “My High German” (!!)

Unnamed friend — “My high virtue”

Be that as it may, all the major online translation services mistranslate “please enter here” with the wrong verb:  shūrù 輸入 instead of jìnrù 進入.

Chinese wags have christened this machine mangled Yīng-shì Zhōngwén 英式中文 (“English style Chinese”) as “Eng-nese (Eng[lish-Chi]nese)”.



6 Comments

  1. Mark Mandel said,

    February 20, 2015 @ 11:42 pm

    gāo 高 is ‘high’.

    de is the ISO 639-1 language code for German, and is also the Internet top-level domain and ISO 3166-1 code for Germany, both of which are of course extremely common on the Internet.
    Q.E.D.

  2. Max said,

    February 21, 2015 @ 5:35 am

    Mark, you don’t need to go via ISO codes to get from 德 to German: 德语 is Mandarin for German.

  3. Edward J. Cunningham said,

    February 21, 2015 @ 10:48 am

    Thanks for giving us a new word which is badly needed. The language barrier between English and Mandarin is pretty high and we shouldn’t laugh at those who fall trying to climb the linguistic Great Wall of China but instead try to help them up. In other words, it’s about time somebody came up with the equivalent for “Chinglish” for those who try to speak (or write) Chinese but fail badly.

  4. Wu Youde said,

    February 21, 2015 @ 12:26 pm

    @Edward: hear hear… it’s only fair to turn the tables. I’d love to know if Chinese people have some particularly cutting expression to refer to foreigner’s attempts at writing / speaking passable Chinese.

  5. Vasha said,

    February 21, 2015 @ 5:38 pm

    For the opposite mistake, my bank’s ATM displays, below “Remove your card to enter PIN”, “Retire su tarjeta para ingresar el PIN”. That should be “introducir” instead of “ingresar”, I’m pretty sure.

  6. Dave Cragin said,

    February 23, 2015 @ 10:03 pm

    Googletranslator did a good job with 我的天 Wǒ de tiān.

    I had sent a document for review to colleague in Shanghai with whom I’d hadn’t worked with before. I said we could set up a phone call to discuss it. She IM’ed me one evening in English asking if we could talk. I replied in Chinese. She replied 我的天!(Wǒ de tiān) and then commented on my use of Chinese (obviously a surprise).

    A literal translation of 我的天 (Wǒ de tiān) would be “my heavens”, but no one really says this anymore (do they?). Google offered it as “oh my god.” Google definitely caught the feeling of the message.

    Notably, Google doesn’t even offer “my heavens” for the phrase, suggesting that translators have rarely, if at all, translated it in this way.

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