Pernicious garbage

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The blogger of "The Wanderlust Diaries" has a post called "What China is This?" (10/17/15).  In it, she includes the following sign as an example of the elusiveness of " correct English spelling and translation" in China, though she recognizes that there are now many Chinese who speak English fluently, in contrast to when she first went to China in 1994:

yǒuhài lājī (PRC) / lèsè (Taiwan) 有害垃圾
("hazardous waste")

zhuānyòng huíshōu kǒng 专用回收孔
("dedicated receptacle for recyclables")

Judging from the first and last word of the English translation, it seems that the persons who made this sign were striving for elegant, elevated diction, even though they were dealing with a humble subject.


  1. Chris Waigl said,

    November 8, 2015 @ 10:32 pm

    Ah, that one was easy.

  2. Laura Morland said,

    November 9, 2015 @ 1:23 am

    Funny — I had just read some vicious tripe on an Internet news site when I saw the subject header of your post. My instinctive reaction was that you were referring to something similar.

    Despite my mistake, I plan to retain this phrase for my personal use. "Pernicious garbage!" would be an elegant replacement for "Bullshit!"

  3. Victor Mair said,

    November 9, 2015 @ 7:22 am

    @Laura Morland

    Great! I will join you!

  4. chris said,

    November 9, 2015 @ 3:08 pm

    My reaction is similar to Laura's but more specific; I thought it was going to be a post by Geoff Pullum.

    It's interesting that the same modifier works so well with metaphorical garbage and so poorly with literal garbage.

  5. Doug Henning said,

    November 10, 2015 @ 5:39 pm

    ///I had just read some vicious tripe on an Internet news site

    Zhè zhàopiàn zài fǎndòng mǐmǔ xiàmiàn tiēqǐ huì wánměi
    "Said daguerrotype upon reactionary meme underside affixed, perchance flawless."

  6. Olga from Crazy said,

    November 12, 2015 @ 9:29 am

    @Laura Morlan:
    I too am joining you on using "pernicious garbage" for my personal use ! A failed translation that gives us a good replacement for too-easy a curse, that's nice. In fact, I can think of a few other words for which I would need inventive replacements …

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