Archive for Found in translation

Bride of Tamil Nadu

Following up on "Crap Lolly Pop" (11/21/2022), Ambarish Sridharanarayanan sent in this xeet, featuring a poster that glorifies the present Chief Minister of Tamil Nadu as the “Bride of Tamil Nadu” instead of the “Pride of Tamil Nadu”, again because of the b/p equivalence in Tamil:

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Handsome court — translation / transcription hybrid

Schematic map of bus stops in the vicinity of Lingnan University, Tuen Mun (below Castle Peak), Hong Kong.  Note the tenth stop outbound, which is "Handsome Court" (to be explained below):

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Rice noodle sense: Sino-Anglo-Nipponica

Photograph taken outside a shop in Hong Kong:

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Use chili sparingly

From AntC:

Seen in a very typical (but delicious) corner eatery in downtown Hualien, Taiwan.

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Perfect translation

Meme online from a Chinese forum (fortunately I have a screenshot). Hilarious, but sad, though, considering China’s reported covid conditions.

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Quiet thirst

Mark Swofford, who is visiting the Jiaobanshan (Jiaoban Mountain) Park in Fuxing District of Taoyuan City, sent me this photograph of a sign introducing the area:

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Englishy Chinese

In a moment of whimsy, I concluded a note to a friend thus: 

wǎng qiánmiàn kànzhe 往前面看著 ("looking forward")

Whereas, the usual way to express that idea in idiomatic Chinese would be:

qídài 期待 ("expect; look forward to; await; wait in hope")

I referred to my intentionally deformed Chinese as Yīngshì Zhōngwén 英式中文 ("English style Chinese") and asked some friends what they would call that kind of writing (I was searching for a parallel to "Chinglish").

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"A French word that is more vulgar"?

Norimitsu Onishi, "Using Harsh Language, Macron Issues a Challenge to the Unvaccinated", NYT 1/5/2022:

Faced with a surge in coronavirus cases driven by the Omicron variant, President Emmanuel Macron of France said Wednesday that he wanted to “piss off” millions of his citizens who refuse to get vaccinated by squeezing them out of the country’s public spaces.

By shocking the nation with a vulgarity three months before presidential elections, Mr. Macron was relaying not only a public health message, but also a political one. He appeared to be calculating that tapping into the growing public anger against the unvaccinated held more potential electoral rewards than the risk of angering an anti-vaccination minority whose support he has little hope of ever getting. […]

“The unvaccinated, I really want to piss them off,” Mr. Macron said, using a French word that is more vulgar, explaining that a new, reinforced vaccine pass would make it impossible for the unvaccinated to go to restaurants and cafes, or the theater and cinemas. 

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RFK's first name

Below is a guest post by Bob Ladd.

For years I’ve been puzzled – or at least struck – by the fact that my (Italian) wife always refers to “Bob Kennedy” rather than “Bobby Kennedy” whenever he comes up in a conversation (his assassination was one of the first international political events she was really aware of).  Today it came up again because Beppe Severgnini (a prominent Italian journalist) wrote a piece in the Corriere della Sera about how RFK Jr. is a prominent anti-vax person.  So I thought about it again, and it occurred to me that maybe “Bob” is simply how he’s referred to in Italian.  Sure enough, in Severgnini’s piece he is referred to as “Bob”.

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Big, open, high, ?

Paul Eprile has a new translation of Jean Giono's 1951 novel Les Grands Chemins, under the title The Open Road. The publisher's blurb describes it this way:

The south of France, 1950: A solitary vagabond walks through the villages, towns, valleys, and foothills of the region between northern Provence and the Alps. He picks up work along the way and spends the winter as the custodian of a walnut-oil mill. He also picks up a problematic companion: a cardsharp and con man, whom he calls “the Artist.” The action moves from place to place, and episode to episode, in truly picaresque fashion. Everything is told in the first person, present tense, by the vagabond narrator, who goes unnamed. He himself is a curious combination of qualities—poetic, resentful, cynical, compassionate, flirtatious, and self-absorbed.

Reading this, I wondered whether this novel might have helped inspire Jack Kerouac's 1957 novel On the Road — Kerouac spoke French until the age of six, and wrote in French as well as English throughout his life, so it's plausible that he read Giono. But Les Grands Chemins was first published in May of 1951, and Wikipedia tells us that

The idea for On the Road, Kerouac's second novel, was formed during the late 1940s in a series of notebooks, and then typed out on a continuous reel of paper during three weeks in April 1951. 

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Chinesey Japanese in a Hong Kong restaurant

From Zihan Guo:

Yesterday a friend of mine posted this photograph he took in a restaurant called 興記菜館 in Hong Kong. As a Chinese speaker and Japanese learner I find this hilarious.

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The importance of translation for learning Literary Sinitic

After reading "Bad poetry, bad translation" (6/18/21), Zihan Guo wrote:

Thank you for sharing this post.

While reading it, its comments, and all the selected readings related to it, I could not help but feel that translating classical Chinese poetry is the way to make sure one really understands it. Back in middle school and high school in China, my teachers would teach poetry and prose through paraphrasing, making them coherent narratives. However, adding things is as detrimental as its opposite. It was not until college that I started to truly appreciate classical Chinese poetry, through producing English translations myself, struggling with its syntactic concision and lack of precision, squeezing meanings from diction and speculating moods from imagery.

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Duck names

Variation across across Europe and the Middle East in the names of Donald Duck's three nephews:

I'm a little surprised that Disney gives such freedom to local adapters.

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