Rapper 50 Cent converted into Malaysian currency

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Making the rounds today, from Andrew Bloch's Twitter feed:

Bloch's comment: "Reuters applies foreign exchange rate to 50 Cent. He is now known as RM1.50 in Malaysia."

Of course, it's not really Reuters' fault, since the original story doesn't bother with local currency conversion rates. But whoever was editing the article for inclusion in a Malaysian newspaper (it's not clear which one it is) went a little overboard searching for any mentions of U.S. currency that needed to be expressed in Malaysian ringgit.

Fans of such automated editorial mishaps may enjoy my previous posts on the topic: "Incorrections in the newsroom: Cupertino and beyond" (Feb. 1, 2008), "U.S. sprinter undergoes search-and-replace" (July 1, 2008), and "Walter Leland Mr. Cronkite" (July 17, 2009). I also talked about several examples from these posts in the 2010 Radiolab episode "Oops" (my listening guide here).

(Hat tip, Jesse Sheidlower.)


  1. Aaron said,

    April 20, 2012 @ 11:21 am

    A good effort on the Malaysian newspaper's part, but they didn't go far enough. For example, Jay-Z's 40/40 club could easily have been simplified to 1.

  2. tiffert said,

    April 20, 2012 @ 11:46 am

    Don't forget this gem: http://raincoaster.com/2006/10/26/typo-o-the-day-queen-elizabeth-queen-bee/

    [(bgz) Yes, as discussed in the first LL post linked above, as well as the Radiolab episode.]

  3. Andrew said,

    April 20, 2012 @ 11:58 am

    There's an old apocryphal story of a British newspaper reporting that someone (possibly Marylin Monroe) "looked like a million dollars (£250,000)".

    My local newspaper used to have a habit of adding the actual date to words such as "today" on its website, so you would get stories containing things like ".. young people today (Friday 20th April)".

  4. Carl M said,

    April 20, 2012 @ 1:58 pm

    Years ago I saw a story breaking down the racial diversity in several European countries. I still remember my moment of confusion when I saw the surprisingly high percentage of those living in France who were African Americans.

  5. Jim said,

    April 20, 2012 @ 2:37 pm

    I find it interesting that they convert US$150mil to RM459,000, but later correctly convert US$260mil to RM795mil. Perhaps this paper isn't particularly careful.

  6. JimO said,

    April 20, 2012 @ 3:28 pm

    Then there's this — http://www.guardian.co.uk/technology/blog/2008/jun/30/computerautocorrectssurname

    [(bgz) Again, please check out the linked posts above. This is covered in the second one.]

  7. Q. Pheevr said,

    April 20, 2012 @ 3:39 pm

    Now I really want to see that Malaysian newspaper run a story about the Nova Scotian rapper Buck 65 (RM 5.09).

  8. Daniel von Brighoff said,

    April 20, 2012 @ 3:40 pm

    I've heard 50 Cent humorously referred to as "50 Pence" on British television. Which is only feeding his inflated opinion of himself, since at current exchange rates he should be "31 Pence".

  9. AB said,

    April 20, 2012 @ 4:23 pm

    Conveniently, in the Euro context the plural of cent is cent.

    [(myl) But only in some languages — in English, but not in French, Spanish, or Portuguese….]

  10. Q. Pheevr said,

    April 20, 2012 @ 4:44 pm

    But €0.50 would be RM 2.03.

  11. Sili said,

    April 20, 2012 @ 5:06 pm

    I wonder if The Proclaimers would have walked 800 kilometres (and a bit), had they not been based in the Anglosphere.

  12. Scott122 said,

    April 20, 2012 @ 5:15 pm

    A few years ago, a friend of mine was doing some of his own auto maintenance and came across an instruction in a Japanese automobile manual instructing him to turn a certain screw "180 degrees (82.2 degrees Celsius.")

  13. The Ridger said,

    April 20, 2012 @ 6:49 pm

    It's not a bad idea to give the real, not relational, date. I'm reading a book right now that is talking about an island in Panama (Barro Colorado) that "at the turn of this century" was "a forested hilltop". It's a bit further on that we discover it was created when the Panama Canal was dug. Puzzling enough 12 years into "this century", it will be worse the more time passes since 1996, when the book was written.

  14. GeorgeW said,

    April 20, 2012 @ 8:12 pm

    @The Ridger: Are we now referring to 2001 as the "turn of the century?" Although, it is literally correct, it has a strange ring to me. I feel like we need to get deeper into the century before that becomes common. Maybe, I am just too last century to move on.

  15. Tom S. Fox said,

    April 20, 2012 @ 10:53 pm

    The title of this post sounds like a headline from The Onion.

  16. Eric P Smith said,

    April 21, 2012 @ 6:08 am

    This is not as serious as you make out. Poor 50 Cent has not been converted to Malaysian currency, merely translated. If he had been converted, then it would have been necessary to remedy the matter by converting him back, by which time there might have been only 40 Cent of him left because of exchange losses.

    That’s the traditional terminology anyway.

  17. zythophile said,

    April 21, 2012 @ 8:54 am

    Andrew – it was Elizabeth Taylor, not Marilyn Munroe, and the Daily Telegraph, which had a policy of converting all mentions of dollars to pounds, and which (apocryphally) reported in the 1950s that "the film star Elizabeth Taylor flew into London from the United States yesterday and told waiting reporters: 'I feel like a million dollars (£400,000).'"

  18. Xenobio said,

    April 22, 2012 @ 7:39 pm

    The Star is notorious among English-literate Malaysians for its horrible editing. I once wrote in to complain and the editor offered me a job. I'm quite happy about the article above, however, because it gave me a much-needed laugh at work last Friday.

  19. Licia said,

    April 24, 2012 @ 12:55 pm

    Unusual currency conversion choice by the British newspaper The Guardian. In Letter from Italy: cattle wagon turned commuter train, €15 is converted into dollars ($20) rather than British pounds (£12).

  20. Tom said,

    May 17, 2012 @ 11:23 am

    But €0.50 would be RM 2.03.

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