Archive for Lost in translation

Portuglish

[This is a guest post by Thomas Lee Mair]

I'm sending an excerpt from a novel I just finished. This might amuse you the way the Chinglish signs do.

The excerpt is from The Grammarians, a novel by Cathleen Schine, which the NYT listed as one of the 10 best novels of 2019. The novel tracks the lives of a set of twins, Laurel and Daphne, who love words and grammar. The other characters mentioned in this excerpt are Arthur (their father) and Don (Arthur's brother and the twins' uncle).

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The source of "cum-ex"?

"It May Be the Biggest Tax Heist Ever. And Europe Wants Justice." NYT 1/23/2020:

Martin Shields and Paul Mora met in 2004, at the London office of Merrill Lynch. […]

Today, the men stand accused of participating in what Le Monde has called "the robbery of the century," and what one academic declared "the biggest tax theft in the history of Europe." From 2006 to 2011, these two and hundreds of bankers, lawyers and investors made off with a staggering $60 billion, all of it siphoned from the state coffers of European countries.

The scheme was built around "cum-ex trading" (from the Latin for "with-without"): a monetary maneuver to avoid double taxation of investment profits that plays out like high finance's answer to a David Copperfield stage illusion. Through careful timing, and the coordination of a dozen different transactions, cum-ex trades produced two refunds for dividend tax paid on one basket of stocks.

One basket of stocks. Abracadabra. Two refunds.

You can learn more about this from the source at  cumex-files.com. But since this is Language Log rather than Evil Bankers Log, I'm going to focus on the claim that "cum-ex" is from the Latin for "with-without".

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President Shithole

J. Edward Moreno, "Facebook apologizes after Chinese president's name translated into vulgar phrase", The Hill (1/18/20) — with screen capture in Burmese and English.

Poppy McPherson, "Facebook says technical error caused vulgar translation of Chinese leader's name", Reuters (1/18/20):

YANGON (Reuters) – Facebook Inc (FB.O) on Saturday blamed a technical error for Chinese leader Xi Jinping's name appearing as "Mr Shithole" in posts on its platform when translated into English from Burmese, apologizing for any offense caused.

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Moon ultra parking

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Menu overtranslation

Bruce Rusk sent in this photograph taken at his local (Vancouver) Hong Kong-style congee joint: the English translation of the third item on the menu reads the Sinographs 龍崗 (lit., "dragon hillock / mound / [lookout] post / sentinel / sentry") as a Japanese toponym or family name, when they should be read in Cantonese (as the name of a neighborhood in Shenzhen, he believes).

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Enteral fever

Fuchsia Dunlop has a real talent for finding these things (cf. "Explosion Cheese Durian Pie" [9/23/19]):

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Loophole-ridden 'screenplay' concocted by anti-China forces

[This is a guest post by Jichang Lulu]

This statement, attributed to the new Taiwan Affairs Office spokeswoman of the PRC, reinforced my impression that Relevant Organs (including exoprop media like the Gobar Times (Huánqiú shǐbào 环球屎报 [Global Shit News], a pun for Huánqiú shíbào 环球时报 [Global Times], for which see "Dung Times" [3/14/18])) often start generating unusually quaint English when they go into full patriot mode.

> This is a totally absurd, loophole-ridden 'screenplay' concocted by anti-China forces…

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Eraser from Muji

From Anne Henochowicz:


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Sharing joys with birds

Vito Acosta sent in this photograph of a sign at Tianmu Lake ( Tiānmù hú 天目湖) in Jiangsu:

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No watching and no walking

Bryan Van Norden sent in this sign that he found here:

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Don't eat and don't drink

Wang Tong sent in this photograph of a sign which a friend of hers took during a visit to Japan.  The Chinese translation is quite amusing.

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Explosion Cheese Durian Pie

From Fuchsia Dunlop's Facebook page (taken in Xi'an):


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Japlish and linguistic singularity hypotheses

[This is a guest post by Nathan Hopson]

I wanted to share two photos with examples of Japlish. One appears to be the result of a quirky machine translation.

That's the "Training room area guidelines" from the municipal sports center near my home (the only gym I can afford on my salary). The offending passage is at the bottom:

"Please use a barbell and a dumbell with a chisel in this free weight area."

This novel use of a carving and gouging implement struck me as perhaps not so much a curious aspect of inscrutable Oriental culture as instead the hallmark of machine translation gone facepalmingly awry.

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