Los transatlánticos del jardín

« previous post | next post »

Mai Kuha's new gardening gloves contain a large nylon ship, at least in Spanish:

Presumably the version sold in Canada would have a Paquebot de Nylon.

And is "nilón del 100%" really the usual way to say "100% nylon" in Spanish?  I wouldn't have guessed the definite article.


  1. Agustin said,

    July 16, 2011 @ 5:00 pm

    I would write "100% nylon" in Spanish. Nylon is a brand name, so it usually preserves its spelling.

    (I just took a look at one of my shirts to confirm, and it says "100% algodón" – 100% cotton.)

  2. jj said,

    July 16, 2011 @ 6:04 pm

    "del 100%" is definitely not commonly used to say this.

    like agustín said, "100% nylon" is probably the most common way to see it. something like "100% de nylon" is also not unusual, but i'd say you see it mostly in spoken language.

    i wouldn't be surprised if there local varieties that preferred "nilón" instead of "nylon", but according to the diccionario panhispánico de dudas, the recommended form is "nailon". it says there that "nilón" is sometimes used in puerto rico and the states. go figure.


    as for the "del", it being a preposition + definite article, you wouldn't use it before a figure unless that figure refers to something in turn definite. something like "el paro del 50% del personal" ("the strike of 50% of the staff"), or in set phrases like "funcionando al 100%", in which "al 100%" means "in/at ful capacity".

  3. Xmun said,

    July 16, 2011 @ 6:23 pm

    My bilingual JCPenney tee-shirt. bought in Mexico but manufactured in Honduras, is labelled "100% Combed Cotton / Algodón Peinado" (the slash indicating a new line, both lines being centred). The size, by the way, is given as LT/GL, which is presumably also bilingual: "Large Tall / Grande Largo"?

  4. Dan Milton said,

    July 16, 2011 @ 6:32 pm

    That's Google translate that gives "transatlantico" for "liner". Other translator engines do better, giving "forro".
    The OED has "liner" as a vessel belonging to a shipping line, from 1838, but, surprisingly to me, as the lining of a garment only from 1947. The latter is under Liner, n1, and the former under Liner, n2, a distinction I fail to understand.

  5. Spell Me Jeff said,

    July 16, 2011 @ 6:37 pm

    Surely no proofreader on Earth is really that stoopid? Seriously, no one even glanced casually at the thing to notice how absurd that is?

    [(myl) You presume that there was someone associated with the enterprise who knew the target language. By now you should know better...]

  6. Nick Lamb said,

    July 16, 2011 @ 9:29 pm

    Dan, the dictionary is telling you that these are two different words which happen to be spelled the same way. Unlike a single word with several meanings, the two separate words might be pronounced differently (depending on your dialect) and have separate etymologies. The two words spelled "tab" might be more familiar examples. The tab (small strip of fabric) sewn into your T-shirt and the tab (from tabulate) key on your keyboard have nothing in common besides the fact that you spell and pronounce them the same way.

  7. Peter said,

    July 17, 2011 @ 3:16 am

    A chutney I bought in Canada recently started its ingredients in English as “mint leaves, coriander leaves…” In the French version these had become “feuilles en bon état, la coriandre part…”

  8. Adolfo said,

    July 17, 2011 @ 4:05 am

    100% Nylon is the correct. Nilón with the accent doesn't exist in Spanish. Nobody in Spain pronounces it like that. The pronunciation is the English one /nailon/

  9. Ellen K. said,

    July 17, 2011 @ 8:32 am

    I would think knowing English would be sufficient to know that "transatlantico" doesn't mean a liner on a glove. Knowing "the target language" isn't really required.

  10. Charles Gaulke said,

    July 17, 2011 @ 9:29 am

    @Ellen K.:

    English is the original here, Spanish is the target language.

    [(myl) The gloves were manufactured in China, but branded and sold by a company whose headquarters are in Missouri. It's not clear where the label was prepared, but it's at least possible that the folks doing the translation knew neither English nor Spanish, even if they were given English text to start with.]

  11. Rod said,

    July 17, 2011 @ 10:30 am

    @Nick Lamb: Tab is a confusing example to choose. I use the word to mean a small piece of metal in a typewriter that sticks out and stops the carriage at a set position, or a small piece of fabric that sticks out of a garment as a label, or codes in computer systems that emulate either of those. If it is true that there are two separate words, tab and tab, that "have nothing in common", it is not at all obvious.

  12. Robert Coren said,

    July 17, 2011 @ 11:03 am

    I'm inclined to agree with myl's response to Charles Gaulke's comment; an English speaker, even one with no Spanish, would have been suspicious of "transatlantico".

  13. Kathy Jolowicz said,

    July 17, 2011 @ 1:07 pm

    On a string cheese package, the English said "Tear here." The Spanish translation was "Lágrima aquí."

  14. Gospod said,

    July 17, 2011 @ 1:55 pm

    Although as Adolfo said nobody in Spain (as far as I know and I'm a native speaker) says "nilón", the RAE (royal academy of the Spanish language) accepts "nilón" and "nailon" but not "nylon". So I guess that sometime, somewhere, someone said (says?) "nilón"…

    And the possible choices are (to me at least):
    100% nailon
    nailon al 100%
    nailon 100%

  15. Dan Milton said,

    July 17, 2011 @ 11:01 pm

    @Nick Lamb: That's what I'd expect from separate entries. But for liner1 and liner2 the pronunciations are identical; the etymology for 1 is "from line v2.", for 2 "from "line n2 or line v2", which isn't much of a difference.
    Liner1 meanings tend to relate to the concept of a two-dimensional "lining" (as in the gloves that started this discussion) and liner2 meanings tend to relate to a one-dimensional line, but if this is the distinction, it's never made explicit, and I'd transfer some subheads from one to the other.

  16. Ellen K. said,

    July 17, 2011 @ 11:21 pm

    @Charles Gaulke, Yes, exactly, Spanish is the target language. Someone who knows and reads English doesn't need to know any Spanish to figure out that "transatlantico" (in it's written form) is quite likely an incorrect translation for a glove's liner. Their knowledge of English should suffice for that. Unless, of course, the English word "transatlantic" would also be opaque to that particular person.

    Sorry for not explaining that clearly enough for you.

  17. Ellen K. said,

    July 17, 2011 @ 11:31 pm

    Try looking up "line". I don't have access to OED, but in Wiktionary, under "line" the two different etymologies are clear. Perhaps that's the case in OED as well.

  18. Mark Beadles said,

    July 18, 2011 @ 3:20 pm

    @Rod: Re: "I use the word to mean a small piece of metal in a typewriter that sticks out and stops the carriage at a set position" is a (perhaps idiosyncratic) folk etymology. The piece of metal itself is called the "tab stop" which is engaged by the "tab blade". But "tab" is short for "tabulate", that is, to format text into tables made up of rows and columns. The tabulator feature on a typewriter enables such formatting.


  19. Mark Mandel said,

    July 18, 2011 @ 8:17 pm

    This one, though, is opaque to the Frenchless: a roll of Scotch brand masking tape labeled in four languages:
    Made in Canada
    Fabriqué aux Canada
    Hecho en Canadá
    Fabricado no Canadá

    Don't know if the picture will come thru…
    <img href="

  20. Mark Mandel said,

    July 18, 2011 @ 8:17 pm

    Obviously not. It's at

  21. Eric said,

    July 18, 2011 @ 8:54 pm

    Every time I see something like this I just want to punch somebody really, really hard.

  22. Tora said,

    July 19, 2011 @ 12:41 am

    Actually, "Spell Me Jeff" is assuming more than that! He's assuming that there IS a proofreader to begin with. Judging by my experience of packaging, labels, and instructions, I would say that many companies do not employ proofreaders–in any language.

    While the job of making the labels may indeed have been done by someone who knows neither English nor Spanish, it's also possible that it was done by a native English speaker who either was mindlessly copying and pasting the output of software translation without paying any attention or critically judging the correctness of the result; or that said possible native speaker didn't care (or wasn't paid enough) to take the time and effort to correct the error.

  23. Eric said,

    July 19, 2011 @ 1:55 pm

    #wordrage #translationrage

    Also, the DPD is sometimes spectacularly, painfully wrong.

  24. naddy said,

    July 19, 2011 @ 3:44 pm

    Fabriqué aux Canada

    For balance, a few weeks ago in Canada I stood in front of a hand dryer with a label "Fabriqué au É.-U.".

  25. Keith said,

    July 20, 2011 @ 6:20 pm

    One of my pastimes is spotting bad translations like this, especially in French.

    My favourite (and I regret not having a camera with me at the time) was an enormous box-on-palette that I saw in Costco in around 2006. The box contained bags of tulip or daffodil bulbs, and was emblazoned with the enormous slogan "Plant… Water… Enjoy!". This was rendered into the bizarre French "de l'usine… de l'eau… jouir!".


  26. Ted said,

    November 5, 2011 @ 12:22 am

    I once completed a DIY project in Canada using a "Complete Toilet Repair Kit," which was also labeled as a "Terminé Trousse de Reparation pour Toilette" for the benefit of our Francophone friends.

RSS feed for comments on this post