Cold shoe, hot boot

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From Stephen Hart (the object pictured is a camera attachment for microphones, lights, and the like):

The Chinese says:

sān tóu rè xuē zhījià


"three-headed hot boot bracket"

I think that the English on the package, "Triple Cold Shoe Mount", is the original language, and is correct.  The Chinese, which translates into English as "three-headed hot boot bracket", is incorrect.

In terminology for photography accessories, a "hot shoe" has electrical connections running through it for flash, etc. This product has no electrical connections, so it is a "cold shoe", not a "hot boot".

This mistranslation from English to Chinese is different from Chinglish, where the error occurs in going from Chinese to English.

[Thanks to Zeyao Wu]


  1. cameron said,

    May 18, 2019 @ 11:17 am

    How do they do in rendering the term "phone-graphy" into Chinese?

  2. Victor Mair said,

    May 18, 2019 @ 11:39 am

    good question, cameron


    shǒujī yǐngxiàng


    "mobile phone image"


  3. Belial Issimo said,

    May 18, 2019 @ 4:03 pm

    Triple _-> three-headed, ok.
    Shoe –> boot, ok.
    Mount –> bracket, ok.

    But how would Cold have gotten translated to Hot?

  4. Stephen Hart said,

    May 18, 2019 @ 4:21 pm

    Belial Issimo said,

    "But how would Cold have gotten translated to Hot?"

    Maybe "cold shoe" evolved from "hot shoe," which may be seen as generic.
    The earliest flash shoes built into cameras I've owned only triggered a flash when the camera's shutter was triggered. Later cameras had more control of flash length and the number of electrical connections increased. Those were all called hot shoes. At some point the shoe became a standard mount for things with no electrical connection to the camera.

    I've seen a number of products on Amazon where "hot shoe" is used to name an obviously cold shoe.

  5. Stephen Hart said,

    May 18, 2019 @ 4:27 pm

    I found the line "A Small Brand Focussing On Phone-graphy" charming, except for the not-so-pronounceable "phone graphy." "Phonography" or "iPhonography" would be fine coinages to my ear.

  6. Stephen Hart said,

    May 18, 2019 @ 7:00 pm

    "Before the 1970s, many cameras had an "accessory shoe" intended to hold accessories including flashes that connected electrically via a cable, external light meters, special viewfinders, or rangefinders. These earlier accessory shoes were of standard shape and had no electrical contacts; contacts were added to produce the hot shoe."

  7. cameron said,

    May 18, 2019 @ 8:06 pm

    @Steven Hart – are you too young to remember when "phonograph" was a common word that didn't pertain to telephones, or photography?

  8. Gregory Kusnick said,

    May 19, 2019 @ 12:40 am

    Somehow I expected this post to be about footwear fetishes.

  9. Stephen Hart said,

    May 19, 2019 @ 9:20 am

    Apparently "phonography" is a word, but I've never heard it spoken or seen it in print.

    Phonography, meaning "sound writing" in Greek, may refer to:

    The use of a phonograph
    Phonemic orthography
    Pitman shorthand, sometimes called phonography, a system of shorthand stenography developed by Isaac Pitman
    Phonography, a neologism used by some to refer to field recording
    Phonography (album), the 1976 debut album by R. Stevie Moore
    "Phonography", a bonus track on Britney Spears' 2008 album Circus

  10. Robert said,

    May 26, 2019 @ 11:14 am

    The BPI (British Phonographic Industry) is a usage of "phonographic" that still has some currency (this usage came about by the idea that recording music by cutting the groove into the wax is "writing the voice" in some sense).

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