Pelvic floor wrench

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Victor Steinbok said that he found this on Wish:

When VS sends me mysterious English specimens like this, I can usually immediately feel it in my bones that they come from a mangled Chinese original.  However, they often come without a trace of Chinese to sink my teeth into, leading me to lament, oy vey, and throw up my hands, thinking that I'll be in for a rough evening / night.

Fortunately, this time I solved it within minutes.

"Pelvic floor" sounds like something genuinely anatomical in English, and so it is.  I looked that up and found many valuable websites focusing on it, such as this one from the Better Health Channel of the Victoria State Government in Australia:

The pelvic floor muscles are located between the tailbone (coccyx) and the pubic bone within the pelvis. They support the bowel and bladder (as well as the uterus and vagina in females). Muscular bands (sphincters) encircle the urethra, vagina and anus as they pass through the pelvic floor.

So I reversed the translation from "pelvic floor" and got "gǔpén dǐ 骨盆底".  I figured that the pén 盆 part was "basin" or "sink". Then I added the Chinese equivalents of a few other things ("multi-functional", "wrench", etc.) into the mix, and presto digito, as my Mom used to say, "You're cooking with gas!"  I found scores of Chinese websites and images advertising the product featured in the Chinglish advertisement that VS sent to me (see here).

Selected readings


  1. loonquawl said,

    January 9, 2024 @ 2:06 am

    … with the anatomical term pelvis coming from the Latin term for 'basin' (also German 'Becken' = basin) – seems like quite a lot of languages homed in on that equivalency, which is rather surprising, given the look of that bone (more, and larger, holes than any basin i've ever seen)

  2. Jarek Weckwerth said,

    January 9, 2024 @ 5:52 am

    Polish miednica is used almost exlusively for 'pelvis' these days. But the etymology is there; just that it makes you think of a decidedly old-fashioned, probably metal, basin. Freestanding, no plumbing. Definitely not a 'sink' ;)

  3. Victor Mair said,

    January 9, 2024 @ 9:55 am

    I share your puzzlement, loonquawl.

    "basin-like cavity formed by the bones of the pelvic girdle," 1610s, from Modern Latin, from Latin pelvis "basin, laver," Old Latin peluis "basin," from PIE *pel- "container" (source also of Sanskrit palavi "vessel," Greek pelex "helmet," pelike "goblet, bowl," Old Norse and Old English full "cup"). (etymonline)

  4. Pamela said,

    January 9, 2024 @ 11:09 am

    surprised they had to mark down the price for a thing like that

  5. Tim Finin said,

    January 9, 2024 @ 11:51 am

    That's one impressive set of pre-nominal modifiers!

  6. JJM said,

    January 9, 2024 @ 12:15 pm

    Tim Finin: "That's one impressive set of pre-nominal modifiers!"

    Yes. And a good reminder that English really is a Germanic language after all.

  7. Daniel Barkalow said,

    January 9, 2024 @ 5:01 pm

    If I had to choose which part was "the drum" of the frame and the head stretched across it, I'd choose the frame despite it not functioning as a drum without the head. Maybe the basin that "pelvis" references similarly needed a watertight lining to function, but "basin" referred to the part that formed the shape?

  8. Barbara Phillips Long said,

    January 9, 2024 @ 8:45 pm

    My big surprise with the ad is that “pelvic floor” is not part of some well-educated adults’ working vocabulary. Just another reminder of how hit-or-miss basic anatomical knowledge is in the U.S.

  9. Andreas Johansson said,

    January 10, 2024 @ 6:29 am

    In the European languages, at least, one might suspect that the use of "basin" words for the pelvis are calques of the Latin. Conceivably the Chinese too, I guess, if it's not too old.

  10. David Marjanović said,

    January 11, 2024 @ 12:43 pm

    Yes. And a good reminder that English really is a Germanic language after all.

    Yes, but this overdone example feels more Chinese than Germanic to me.

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