Archive for Lost in translation

Between pee and bad

Two delightful Chinglish specimens submitted by Karen Yang:

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Help through French puberty for sale

Shared by David Cowhig:

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German salty pig hand

Jeff DeMarco writes:

"Saw this on Facebook. Google Translate gives 'German salty pig hand' which I presume refers to trotters. Not sure how they got sexual misconduct!"

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Making the goats dance

According to ("tout sur le vin, ses techniques, son vocabulaire"), the phrase "À faire danser les chèvres" ("To make the goats dance") means "Vin trop acide, désagréable à boire" ("Wine that's too acid, disagreeable to drink").

The Dictionnaire de L'Académie Française cites the same expression: "Du vin à faire danser les chèvres, du vin très acide".

Although the metaphor is not entirely transparent, "make the goats dance" could be used in English, and indeed has been.

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"Bien je jamais"?

Boris Johnson started a recent interview segment this way:

Interviewer: Did you really call the French turds?
Boris Johnson:   Well I doubt-
I have no- I have no recollection of this- uh
of- of- of this- uh of this-
this comment
but you know I- I notice- I notice that
it is- you know
it is- it's not very well sourced this story but anyway
Interviewer: well it seems to have come from the foreign office
what do you read into that?
Boris Johnson: bien je jamais
as we say um
uh in french
I think-
I think-
look the- the serious question
uh that perhaps under- underlying all this
uh and- and perhaps what- what
everyone wanted to know
uh can I
get a fantastic deal from our country from our french
friends can we go forwards
in a collegiate
uh friendly way and yes of course
we can

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Toilet revolution, an unfinished business: beware!

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We close today for some reason

Seen on an entry door in San Francisco:

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Cold shoe, hot boot

From Stephen Hart (the object pictured is a camera attachment for microphones, lights, and the like):

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Let's have Mr. and Mrs. Smith for lunch

From Charles Belov:

While restaurant hunting in the East Bay, I happened upon these dishes with the intriguing English names of "Mr and Mrs Smith" and "Boiled Omasum with Chili Pepper." Omasum turns out to be an obscure name of a variety of tripe, but I'm puzzled as to how the Smith family made it into Chinese cuisine.

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Playing a small abacus

A learned colleague observed:

A few days ago, a Chinese military spokesperson was criticizing U.S. Department of Defense budget priorities.  The spokesperson said, "We have noticed that the U.S. defense department always likes to play 'small abacus' when seeking military budgets, in an attempt to gain more benefits for itself by rendering the threat of other countries [sic]."

From and Xinhua.

The colleague went on to ask:

That must have sounded better in Chinese.  What did he mean by that?  Does it refer to lowballing budgets?  Is it like "penny-wise-pound-foolish?"

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But, will think

Zeyao Wu found this picture on Weibo:

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Electromagnet inhales passwords

From frequent commenter bratschegirl:

Seen backstage on a locked storage cabinet.

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