That "moisture dripping wet feeling"

« previous post | next post »

I'm pretty sure this will push some wet buttons among Language Log readers and authors.  Kira Simon-Kennedy found this stellar specimen of Chinglish in a press release from the China-sponsored section of the LA Art Show.

The whole thing is pretty lackluster (what else to expect from State Administration of Press, Publication, Radio, Film and Television [SARFT], the Bureau for External Cultural Relations [BECR], and the National Base for International Cultural Trade [NBICT], which has exclusive rights to provide public services in the field of art publicity in the China [Shanghai] Pilot Free Trade Zone [SHFTZ]?), but this one passage really takes the crown:

Zhu Dabai uses some abstract modeling techniques to the specific image fuzzy object and mottled colors, the work looks like an abstract painting. But look, we can still feel the images of objects. Good permeability of water, rendering the works full of moisture dripping wet feeling, let people be good to hear or see.

True poetry. If I didn't know better that this is serious propaganda for modern Chinese art, I'd be tempted to say that the passage is dripping with satire.

I think that this is the original (pdf) from which the translation was made:

Zuòzhě cǎiyòngle yīxiē chōuxiàng de zàoxíng shǒufǎ yǒuyì móhú duìxiàng de jùtǐ xíngxiàng. Dàxiǎo biànhuà de fāngxíng bǐchù yǐjí bānbó de sè kuài, shǐ zuòpǐn kàn shàngqù xiàng yī jiàn chōuxiàng huàzuò. Rán'ér xìpǐn zhī, wǒmen háishì nénggòu gǎndào wùtǐ de yìxiàng. Shúliàn de shuǐfǎ shènhuà, xuànrǎn shǐdé zuòpǐn chōngmǎn shuǐqì línlí zhī gǎn, ràng rén wèi zhī shǎngxīn yuèmù.


Upon first glance, my impression was that this translation on the LA Art Show website did not come directly from a machine translation, but that it had been "improved" and "streamlined" somewhat.  Indeed, it does not much resemble what Google Translate or Bing Translator produces, but in some respects it is close to what comes from Baidu Fanyi, with perhaps a little bit of touching up from Google Translate:

Baidu Fanyi

The author uses some abstract modeling techniques of concrete image intentionally vague objects. Square brush size change

And mottled color, make the work looks like a piece of abstract paintings. But look, we can still sense

The images of objects. The water permeability, skilled rendering makes the works full of water dripping wet feeling, let a person admire


Google Translate

One of these authors used a deliberately vague abstract object modeling techniques specific image. Changes in the size of the square strokes
And mottled color, so that works look like one piece abstract paintings. However, fine chemicals, we can still feel
The images of the object. Skilled infiltration of water law, rendering work is full of moisture dripping makes sense, people to whom tours
Heart pleasing to the eye.

Bing Translator

Author uses some abstract modeling techniques intended to blur the specific image of an object. Size square brush strokes

And mottled color art, which looks like a piece of abstract paintings. Fine, however, we have been able to sense

To the image of the object. Skilled work of water penetration, rendering the steamy sweaty feeling, let people tour

Pleasing to the eye.

Not being an art historian or art critic, I am afraid that my effort will not be able to compete with that of the people responsible for the LA Art Show piece, but here goes:

The artist employs abstract modeling techniques to deliberately blur the specific images of objects.  Square brush strokes of varying size and mottled patches of color give his works the appearance of abstract art.  Yet, when we admire them in detail, we still can feel the objective imagery.  His skillful control of the water that soaks through the surface and application of color washes fills his works with a sense that they are drenched with moisture, affording pleasure both to the mind and the eye of the beholder.

After I had finished my own translation, I found this one online:

He is specialized in intentionally blurring the objects' original shape to create vague and abstract images.   Manipulating various size of squires and mottled color gives his paintings more abstract perception.  Then again, taking time to savor it, we are able to construct the entity.   Adept technique of controlling the nature permeability of water flow on the paper, he renders full indication of moisture drips on his artworks, which dose provide the viewers of his artworks pleased and appreciated.

This one seems to have been done by a human being who knew what the passage is about, his / her unidiomatic English notwithstanding.

[Thanks to Petya Andreeva for finding the Chinese original]


  1. AntC said,

    January 8, 2015 @ 12:08 am

    Manipulating various size of squires (as per the gallery's website). Is that a sub-edit error or did everybody else mis-translate?
    I have mental images of Sancho Panza crossed with Restoration comedy mixed with Blackadder; in the motley?

  2. Randy Alexander said,

    January 8, 2015 @ 6:44 am

    AntC: Squires = squares. To me this sounds like a Chinglish sound-spelling.

  3. richardelguru said,

    January 8, 2015 @ 8:32 am

    "various size of squires"
    Obviously highly influenced by Stubbs or by English hunting scenes from the C18/19.

  4. shubert said,

    January 8, 2015 @ 8:52 am

    Learned water vs. moisture,…painting watercolor portraits enables me to associate water absorbing with that of oil, which dull the dark oil pigments.

  5. Victor Mair said,

    January 8, 2015 @ 9:30 am

    From a colleague:

    In the translation industry, this is called "light post-editing" and is a real service provided by many agencies at a lower cost than a full human translation. Translators who care about their work tend to feel quite strongly about the mere existent of such services, even if they refuse such jobs themselves.

  6. George said,

    January 9, 2015 @ 4:45 am

    In my own experience (and I'm not a translator – I'm talking about things like helping friends with CVs or job application letters in English), post-editing machine translations can be a lot more time-consuming than just starting from scratch…

RSS feed for comments on this post