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At the top of hundreds of webpages belonging to the Shenzhen Energy Corporation, a large power company in Guangdong Province, China, we find the following four main headings:

shǒuyè 首页 ("Home")

xīnwén zhōngxīn 新闻中心 ("News center")

tóuzīzhě guānxì 投资者关系 ("Indicrteurseus")

qǐyè wénhuà 企业文化 ("Culture")

The English translations for items #1, 2, and 4 are acceptable (although I would prefer "Corporate culture" for the fourth one), but what in the world happened with the translation of the third item?  One wonders if the webmaster just dozed off and fell on the keyboard when he got to that one.

Strangely, though, "Indicrteurseus" looks as though it should mean something, but it is difficult to determine precisely how it came to be the way it is.

In trying to make sense of what was intended, I discovered that "indicrt" is actually a misspelling of the Dutch word indiceert ("indicates").  That, however, could hardly be relevant in the present case.

The ending of "indicteurseus" looks vaguely Greek (cf. Perseus, Terseus, and so forth), but it's hard to see how that could be related to "Investor relations" either.

At this point, I should mention that there are millions of instances where Chinese corporations correctly render tóuzīzhě guānxì 投资者关系 as "investor relations", and many common software translation programs provide the right translation.

Here's my proposal for roughly what may have happened to produce "indicrteurseus".  First of all, like "investor", "indicrteur" begins with "in" and ends with "r", and they are of approximately the same length (8 letters vs. 10 letters), so there is little doubt that "indicrteur" is a transformation of "investor".  Note that "ind-" is a possible typo or miswriting for the first part of "investor".

Next, "relation" can be abbreviated as "rlats", so the remainder of "indicrteurseus" after "indicrteur", namely "seus", may be accounted for as a distortion of something like "rlats".  Note that "rlats" and "seus" both end in an "s" and are of approximately the same length (5 letters vs. 4 letters).

My hypothesis is premised upon the idea that someone who knew English scribbled "investor rlats" on a piece of paper and handed it to a web designer who had little to no command of English.  In other words, for "indicrteurseus" to have been derived from "investor relations" in all likelihood would have involved transmission through handwriting that was misinterpreted by the recipient whose job it was to enter what they were handed into the computer, but who was barely literate in English.

[h/t Anne Henochowicz]


  1. Steve Kass said,

    May 24, 2013 @ 11:47 pm

    The string "Indicrteurseus" is embedded in a Flash file, so even if someone had checked English words in the site's .html files, it wouldn't have been caught.

    In any case, Indicrteurseus is hardly the only bit of fun on the SEC site, if allowing Google Translate to play is allowed. The president's message [here] goes like this:

    Dear leaders at all levels, the majority of investors and community friends,
    Dear all employees and their families can be deep:
    Dragons soar, Snake Manwu.


    I sincerely wish everyone in the new year in good health and happiness, Maestro Italy!

  2. John Swindle said,

    May 25, 2013 @ 3:28 am

    Something to do with les indicateurs?

  3. Mark Anderson said,

    May 25, 2013 @ 3:40 am

    Someone's bad handwriting. What they meant to write was "Indiscreet PR sellers"

  4. TonyK said,

    May 25, 2013 @ 5:55 am

    I suspect it is a conflation of the French word "indicateurs" and the dictionary abbreviation "E US" for United States English.

    PS: "rlats" and "seus"? What have you been drinking?

  5. Martin Holterman said,

    May 25, 2013 @ 6:01 am

    Incidentally, indiceert is not actually a Dutch word in (common) usage. In fact, I would be highly surprised if this literal translation of the verb indicate were in any dictionary. The related noun, sure, but the verb?

  6. Victor Mair said,

    May 25, 2013 @ 6:23 am


    Are you asking the translator?

    He / she wouldn't have had to be drinking to make that error. For someone who knows no English, those handwritten squiggles could be almost anything. What's important is that the lengths of "rlats" and "seus" are roughly the same, and they both end in "s", which the poor bloke did manage to catch.

  7. Victor Mair said,

    May 25, 2013 @ 6:39 am

    @Steve Kass

    That's just you playing around with Google Translate, but I suppose what you're trying to say is that the Chinese language behind it is a bit florid, and indeed it is, yet it is not atypical of such New Year's messages.

    "Maestro Italy" is from wànshì shùnyì 万事顺意 ("may all things be as you wish"), where the Chinese character transcription for Italy (Yìdàlì 意大利) begins with yì 意 ("wish; desire; hope; expect; anticipate; thought; idea; meaning")

    mànwǔ 曼舞 ("dance gracefully / sinuously / in a long, drawn-out fashion"), which is what snakes are supposed to do

    shēn néng 深能 (lit., "deep can"; this is the abbreviated form of the Chinese name for SHENzhen Energy)

    Otherwise, the Google translation is not bad, something that a human who knows second- or third-year Chinese could probably clean up fairly easily.

    As for spell checking the site, whether the .html or Flash parts, I doubt that the folks at Deep Energy gave that any thought whatsoever.

  8. Victor Mair said,

    May 25, 2013 @ 6:52 am

    @John Swindle and TonyK

    Well, "Indicrteurseus" may have some remote resemblance to "les indicateurs", but it's virtually impossible that it had anything to do with the mistake that occurred here, since:

    1. it is totally unrelated to tóuzīzhě guānxì 投资者关系 ("investor relations"), from which the error was derived

    2. if the person who made the mistake knows precious little English, he / she almost certainly knew no French whatsoever and would not have been consulting French sources when entering this little monstrosity ("Indicrteurseus") into the computer

    You've got to put yourself in the shoes of someone who knows Chinese, only a smidgen of English, and no French.

  9. John Swindle said,

    May 25, 2013 @ 8:28 am

    Professor Mair, "Indicateurs" does have some resemblance to "Indicrteurseus," but it also has some relevance to the charts provided on the investor relations page. If the English heading had said "Indicators" the meaning would have been clear, despite differing from the Chinese. I don't know whether the French "indicateurs" can be stretched that far. The problem, though, as you pointed out, is that someone translating Chinese to English wouldn't mistakenly resort to garbled French.

  10. Rubrick said,

    May 25, 2013 @ 6:05 pm

    This is a rare case of a funny garbled translation which would actually make a pretty terrible band name.

  11. cameron said,

    May 25, 2013 @ 7:46 pm

    @Rubrick: yeah, not a good band name. But Snake Manwu, on the other hand, would be a great one

  12. TonyK said,

    May 25, 2013 @ 7:51 pm

    @Victor Mair, Just to clear things up: The word I used was "you". My insinuation was that you (yes, you!) must have been drinking something pretty strong to imagine that "rlats" could look anything like "seus". HTH.

  13. maidhc said,

    May 25, 2013 @ 9:58 pm

    It sounds to me like a species of dinosaur that carries a briefcase.

    The E US idea is ingenious, but why would it follow a word that's in French?

    It could also be EUR SE US but I can't think why.

  14. John Swindle said,

    May 26, 2013 @ 2:49 am

    @maidhc: If it's a French word, then the translator received advice that the plural was -eurs but only managed to add -eus. But why in the world would it be French? The dinosaur does seem more likely.

  15. Victor Mair said,

    May 26, 2013 @ 5:44 am


    No, I definitely wasn't drinking anything stronger than tea or water when I did that painstaking analysis, but the translator (or more precisely the inputter or webmaster) might have been imbibing.

  16. Gpa said,

    May 29, 2013 @ 8:04 am

    It could also be EUR SE US but I can't think why.

    EUR SE US: From Europe to the southeastern part of United States? Figured out which part of US, now which part of Europe is this from? France, perhaps?

  17. Sili said,

    May 29, 2013 @ 8:33 pm

    Isn't "SE" Sweden? Not that that makes any more sense than "South East".

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