From Leopold Eisenlohr, writing about his neighborhood in West Philadelphia:
So, I walk on down to the corner store to pick up a couple things and the woman behind the counter is reading (aloud, but quietly) a book that is in Chinese, in vertical columns, and clearly made to be a handsome volume. We step away from her book so she can get me something (a beer) from behind the counter and I ask her (in English), whatcha reading? and she answers: the Bible. We then continue in Chinese and I ask about the translation, is it in old style Chinese, etc, getting more and more confused since by her answers it doesn't sound like the Bible at all. When we get back she shows it to me and it's actually a Buddhist scripture, the Liánghuáng bǎo chàn 梁皇寶懺 (Jeweled Repentance of the Emperor of the Liang Dynasty)!
So what happened, I think, was that the Bible became an English equivalent for the word jīng 经, and she was using it as a general term for scripture, classic, sutra, etc. I had never heard that before — the conflation in English of bible and jing. I should include the fact that the woman's English is pretty poor.
Leopold goes on to mention that this reminds him of another epic Chinese-English fail in his neighborhood: a local restaurant has the slogan chuānliúbùxī 川流不息, which they translate on their sign and on the menus as "endless flawing stream." As Leopold puts it, this is "A good pithy encapsulation of the problem of sign translation failures: an endless flawing stream of machine mistranslation."
So I searched the web for "endless flawing stream". Lo and behold, I find that a poet named Prior, in his "A Paraphrase on the Thirteenth Chapter of the First Epistle to the Corinthians", in the very first line, supposedly refers to a "flawing tongue" (p. 455 of A Complete Edition of the Poets of Great Britain , vol. 7).
Here I would like to interject that, in checking to see whether there were any justification for Prior to render the first verse of 1 Corinthians 13 as referring to a "flawing" (or "flowing", for that matter) tongue, I came upon the amazing BibleGateway website that enables one to check scores of different translations in dozens of different languages (including nine Chinese versions) at the click of a mouse.
My Google search for "endless flawing stream" (without quotation marks) actually yielded 115,000 ghits. Of course, I did not check each of them out, but upon examining the citation of Prior's paraphrase of the thirteenth chapter of the first epistle to the Corinthians, it seemed to me that the word was actually "flowing", not "flawing", and that the "flawing" was an artifact of a faulty OCR reading of an old, unclear typography (I'm surprised that the OCR reading of these old texts is as good as it is). Indeed, Matthew Prior's text originally read "flowing tongue", not "flawing tongue".
So far as I know, English "flow" was never written with an "a" for the vowel. Here are earlier forms of the verb from the OED:
pa. tense and pa. pple. flowed /fləʊd/ . Forms: inf.OE flówan, ME flohen, ME flowen, (ME flouwen), Orm. flowenn, south. vlowen, ME floȝe, flowyn, ME–16 flowe, ME– flow. pa. tenseOE fléow, pl. fleowon, ME fleaw, flew, south. vleau; weak forms: ME fléowede, Orm. flowedd, ME floȝed, flowede, 15 flowd, 15– flowed. pa. pple.OE flówen, ME–16 flowen, 16–17 flown; 15– flowed.
A quick glance at a few dozen of the instances of "flawing" tagged by my Google search where one would expect "flowing" revealed that they were all from early editions, so I would suppose that all of these false "flawing" readings were the result of faulty OCR transcriptions of what was really "flowing".
This reminds me of our recent discussions of "Hsigo, the imaginary flying monkeys of Chinese mythology", where "Hsigo" appears to be an artifact of faulty OCR.
Pondering all of this a bit more deeply, however, I realized that the same sorts of errors occurred before machines were doing the reading. In other words, human beings can also make mistakes in the reading and transmission of texts, in which case we refer to them as scribal errors, lapsus calami, and so forth.
Come to think of it, mistakes are liable to occur whenever information of any sort is being passed on. In genetics, these are referred to as "mutations".
Sometimes errors that occur in transmission are innocuous, but sometimes they can be disastrous or fatal. A lot of the effort in textual studies is to spot and weed out the mistakes that inevitably creep in during filiation from one generation to another. In nature, mutants often do not survive because they are dysfunctional.
When all is said and done, machines (like minds) will occasionally make mistakes, and then we have to live with the consequences. A good thing is that we also have machines to help us identify and correct errors. The cybernetics of any successful system is such that the number of corrections is greater than the number of errors.