Dangerous water chestnuts

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An anonymous reader sent in this stumper:

I discovered the attached while researching for a new laminating machine.  The device mentioned is pictured in the screen shot. I did save my money by not choosing this one.


This would have been easy to solve if I could have located a Chinese version of the ad.  Unfortunately, although I spent a fair amount of time searching for one, I was unable to do so.  Consequently, it turned out to be a bit of a hard nut to crack.

Nevertheless, I'm virtually certain that the mistranslation resulted from an orthographical error.  What they wanted to say is that the rounding device can trim dangerous corners*. In the process of going from English to Chinese and then back to English, "corner", which should be léngjiǎo 棱角 ("edges and corners"), was erroneously written as língjiǎo 菱角, and that was rendered as "water chestnut".


*Just as one can get a serious cut from paper, sharp corners of laminated materials can also damage the skin.

Selected readings


  1. Chris Button said,

    June 14, 2022 @ 2:36 pm

    The irony is that caltrops are dangerous when referring to the weapon to catch advancing feet/hooves as opposed to the water chestnut variety! There are some similar semantics in Chinese too:


  2. Daniel Barkalow said,

    June 14, 2022 @ 3:12 pm

    My first thought was that it was like including a metal file to remove dangerous burdock seeds. (Wrong meaning of "burr".)

  3. Pamela said,

    June 25, 2022 @ 10:59 am

    sorry this got solved. i was getting desperate to buy one. a person can't have enough all-in-one-machines.

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