Burgeranch Israel in the Year of the Ox

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From Guy Freeman:

Guy remarks:

I just saw this post on the Facebook page of Israel's third-rate local burger chain. The "translation" is diabolically bad, and the entire premise is offensively unfunny to boot. It just goes to show Chinglish is not the only direction in which translations go bad….

The original Facebook post is here.

The text (that can be copied and pasted) says:

סינים יקרים, סינים אהובים.
אתם מייצרים חיקוי כמעט לכל דבר בעולם. אף פעם לא הייתם מקוריים יותר מדי, והאמת שהתרגלנו לזה ולמדנו לחיות עם זה.
אבל לגנוב לנו את השור? כסימן לכל השנה החדשה שלכם??
כאן הגזמתם!

This can be translated into English as follows:

Dear Chinese, beloved Chinese.

You produce counterfeits of almost everything in the world. You have never been too original, and the truth is we got used to it and learned to live with it.

But to steal our bull/ox? As a sign for your whole new year??

Here you are exaggerating [or: at this point you have gone too far]!

Under their logo the Hebrew is supposedly the attempt to translate whatever that "Chinese" says:

סינים יקרים, אל תשכחו מי היה פה קודם

This means:

Dear Chinese people, don't forget who was here before.

And here is Guy's transcription of the gibberish "Chinese":

的中国人, 在事先感

堡牧 之前 不要忘 在 里

The inclusion of "堡牧" for Burger Ranch seems to indicate they translated from a source text that is NOT exactly the Hebrew they claim is the translation. Or maybe it was put in there accidentally?

Utterly diabolical, from both a linguistic and cultural perspective.

The Chinese embassy might complain, as they did here.

The Chinese is so defective that it is impossible to make sense of it.

de Zhōngguó rén, zài shìxiān gǎn

bǎomù zhī qián bù yào wàng zài lǐ

的中国人, 在事先感

堡牧 之前 不要忘 在 里

Selena Zhu comments:

WOW. This is such a disaster! The characters and phrases in this order do not make any sense to me either. I'm guessing that bǎomù 堡牧 ("burg- pasture / ranch") is a direct translation from "burgeranch", because in China they name "ranch sauce" as "mùchǎng jiàng 牧场酱", though I have no idea why. It's possible that with their mangled Chinese they were trying to say "Bǎomù de Zhōngguó rén, zài shìxiān gǎn zhī qián, bùyào wàng(jì wǒmen) zài (zhè)lǐ 堡牧的中国人,在事先感之前,不要忘(记我们)在(这)里“ ("Burg- pasture / ranch Chinese, before you get a sense of being out in front, don't forget that we are here"), or "Zài shìxiān gǎn de Zhōngguó rén, bùyào wàng(jì) Bǎomù zài (zhè) lǐ 在事先感的中国人,不要忘(记)堡牧 在(这)里“ ("For Chinese who have a sense of being out in front, don't forget that Burgeranch is here")? But well!!!!!! It still doesn't fully make sense. There is an explanation for 在事先感 at the bottom of the picture in Israel language, do you know what it means?  [VHM:  See the translation from the Hebrew given above.]  Either way, this is a horrible translation, but isn't it weird?  I'm sure that they are trying to celebrate Chinese New Year, as it just passed by. 2021 is also a year of the ox, which matches their brand logo. But if so, aren't they supposed to create a well-developed poster which at least gets the right translation for a big enterprise, or they might be negatively impacted? Even if they put the words directly into Google Translate (Hebrew to Chinese) they should get a better one….  I am assuming it can also be a puzzle of something?

One thing is certain, you can't begin a sentence with "de Zhōngguó rén 的中国人" ("[some kind of] Chinese person / people"), since the particle "de 的" signals that the phrase must be preceded by a modifier, as Selena indicated in her analysis.

Selected reading

[Thanks to Diana Shuheng Zhang, Yijie Zhang, and Tong Wang]


  1. Michael Watts said,

    February 20, 2021 @ 6:04 pm

    in China they name "ranch sauce" as "mùchǎng jiàng 牧场酱", though I have no idea why.

    The name "ranch dressing" is basically opaque to Americans too, but Wikipedia suggests it's exactly as simple as it looks:

    In 1954, he and his wife Gayle opened Hidden Valley Ranch, a dude ranch at the former Sweetwater Ranch on San Marcos Pass in Santa Barbara County, California, where they served Henson's creation to customers. It became popular, and they began selling it in packages for customers to take home, both as a finished product and as packets of seasoning to be mixed with mayonnaise and buttermilk.

    So "ranch dressing" is named after the establishment that invented and popularized it, Hidden Valley Ranch. 牧场酱 seems like a perfectly accurate translation.

  2. Hang Zhao said,

    February 20, 2021 @ 6:24 pm

    I found the definition of ranch on marriam-webester, so I think that's why ranch is translated as 牧场酱
    1: a large farm for raising horses, beef cattle, or sheep
    2: a farm or area devoted to a particular specialty

    Google has been using neural network for translating, it works much better than the old fashioned one, and able to change word order correctly, but some adjectives will be missed, in this case the word dear and beloved is accidently missed.

    And the training set of Hebrew is limited compare to other languages(fewer people use Hebrew), the translation from Hebrew to English is bad enough, not to mention Google translate always translate the original language to English, then translate English to target language.

  3. Michael Car said,

    February 21, 2021 @ 2:25 pm

    I actually gave it some thought last week and decided that in Biblical Hebrew, at least — which seems appropriate for this kind of thing — it would be the year of the רְאֵם (as in Deut 33:17, Ps 29:6, etc.).

  4. Victor Mair said,

    February 21, 2021 @ 3:01 pm

    Thank you very much, Michael.


    Etymology for ראם

    Cognate with Akkadian (/rimu/, “wild bull, wild ass”), Ugaritic (rủm, “auroch, wild buffalo”), and Arabic رِيم‎ (rīm) or رِئْم‎ (riʾm, “oryx, wild cattle”).


    רְאֵם • (r'em) m (plural indefinite רְאֵמִים‎, singular construct רְאֵם־, plural construct רְאֵמֵי־‎)

    An Arabian oryx: a member of species Oryx leucoryx.

    (more generally) An oryx: any member of genus Oryx.

    Usage notes

    The word's appearances in the Bible have been interpreted variously as representing an oryx, an aurochs (wild ox), or a mythical creature such as unicorn (the last interpretation may be seen in the King James translations given above). The above definitions are in accord with The New Dictionary (see references below) and with Modern usage.


    “רְאֵם, רְאֵים, רֵים” in Abraham Even-Shoshan (אַבְרָהָם אֶבֶן־שֹׁשָן) et al., הַמִּלּוֹן הֶחָדָשׁ‎ (ha-milón he-khadásh, “The New Dictionary”), Kiryat-Sefer Ltd. (קִרְיַת־סֵפֶר בְּע״ם)‎ (1984), →ISBN, volume 3 of 3 (ק to ת), pages 1240–1241.

    source: https://en.wiktionary.org/wiki/%D7%A8%D7%90%D7%9D

  5. AntC said,

    February 21, 2021 @ 3:40 pm

    The characters and phrases in this order do not make any sense to me either.

    Would it make more sense to read from right to left — as with the Hebrew?

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