The Null Device
Posts matching tags 'translation'
There are red faces at the Max Planck Institute, after the institute published an issue of its journal with a special report on China, and decided to include some Chinese characters on the cover for visual impact. Unfortunately, they didn't seem to have any Chinese speakers on hand, and after the journal went out to publication, it was discovered that the text on the cover was from a flyer advertising a brothel, describing in lascivious detail the talents of the "pretty-as-jade housewives" therein:
Editors had hoped to find an elegant Chinese poem to grace the cover of a special issue, focusing on China, of the MaxPlanckForschung journal, but instead of poetry they ran a text effectively proclaiming "Hot Housewives in action!" on the front of the third-quarter edition. Their "enchanting and coquettish performance" was highly recommended.
The Max Planck Institute was quick to acknowledge its error explaining that it had consulted a German sinologist prior to publication of the text. "To our sincere regret ... it has now emerged that the text contains deeper levels of meaning, which are not immediately accessible to a non-native speaker," the institute said in an apology. "By publishing this text we did in no way intend to cause any offence or embarrassment to our Chinese readers. "The faux pas apparently caused much amusement amongst Chinese internet users, with the exception of some who thought it was a deliberate insult to China. Then again, some people said the same thing about that Guns'n'Roses album. Having said that, this is by no means the first instance of clueless Westerners making fools of themselves in Chinese:
There are tales of drunken teenagers walking out of tattoo parlours with characters reading, "This is one ugly foreigner" or "A fool and his money are easily parted". Another web-user wrote: "I recently met a German girl with a Chinese tattoo on her neck which in Chinese means 'prostitute'. I laughed so loud, I could hardly breathe."The brothel-keeper could not be reached for comment.
British menswear chain Burton has egg on its face after it emerged that the decorative Cyrillic text on a T-shirt it was selling was actually an extreme-right anti-immigrant slogan, translating as "We will cleanse Russia of all non-Russians":
The shirt's overall design is an odd jumble of ersatz French logo and Russian iconography, but there is no mistaking the nature of the sentiment, which uses the old word for Russia, "Rus" as a way of distinguishing between ethnic Russians and those with Russian citizenship. "I've spoken to a Russian friend," says Mr Shuttleworth, "and she said you would be arrested if you wore it in Russia."
The phrase is typical of those painted on foreigners' homes by Russian neo-nazis.Burton has blamed one of its suppliers for the gaffe, saying it was told that the slogan read merely "be proud of Russia".
Last.fm is currently temporarily down, and displaying a grey page with text, in various languages, informing the user of this fact.
Interestingly enough, the English message reads:
We're sorry, but our database servers are currently overloaded. Please enjoy a quick cup of tea and then try refreshing this page.whereas the Italian one reads:
Siamo spiacenti ma i nostri server sono momentaneamente sovraccaricati. Gustatevi un caffè veloce e provate ad aggiornare questa pagina.Which, literally, invites the user to have a cup of coffee (which, when one thinks about it, is more culturally appropriate than literally translating it to a cup of tea).
The Portuguese translation seems to also mention coffee, though the French, German and Polish ones seem to stick with tea; the Spanish one doesn't seem to mention any beverage. I don't know what the Russian, Japanese or others say.
Which gives a concise tea-vs.-coffee map of European cultures. And it made me wonder whether, were it written in Australian English, it would refer to coffee rather than tea. And what about American English? Perhaps "please enjoy a Mega-Grande Lattucino™" or something?
The other day, I was in this fancy Italian/French restaurant (where I had Escargot, but that's another story) and so they had fancy English under the usual Chinese names. They're pretty accurate, until I read about desserts. Under the Chinese for cheesecake, was the English word, "Wikipedia".
I saw The City of Lost Children at the Astor last night. One thing I've noticed is that the subtitles on the Australian theatrical release (which I've seen about thrice over the past decade) and those on the US (Sony) DVD release use different translations of the dialogue (for example, the first line of the clone's singsong in the US DVD is translated as "I am a gnome, a bag of bones", but appears in the theatrical release as "I am a midget, a flibbertigibbet"). Funnily enough, the translation used in the theatrical release appears to be American, or at least in American English (for instance, the clones address their stepmother as "Mom").
Sir Mix-A-Lot's Baby Got Back translated into Latin, with a literal English translation beneath each line. Champagne comedy, folks.
Rebecca, ecce! tantae clunes isti sunt!
(Rebecca, behold! Such large buttocks she has!)
amica esse videtur istorum hominum rhythmicorum.
(She appears to be a girlfriend of one of those rhythmic-oration people.)
magnae clunes mihi placent, nec possum de hac re mentiri.
(Large buttocks are pleasing to me, nor am I able to lie concerning this matter.)
Beware the badly-translated Asian Two Towers bootleg DVD captions; some are oddly streetwise, like "Bring your pussy face to my ass" and "You gonna pick it up or what?"; and some, like Eomer saying "too long i wanted my sister" are just disturbing. (via MeFi)
An interesting article about psychological operations in recent conflicts and military engagements:
A T-shirt used in Cambodia to try to deter kids from entering certain unsafe zones featured a boy squatting over a mine that he was poking with a stick. The silk-screened shirt was yanked from production, according to one account, when angered villagers kept asking why American personnel were distributing images of kids defecating over land mines. The squatting boy was eventually redrawn.
Alexander the Great ordered his metalworkers to craft giant helmets to fit men the size of 20-foot monsters. His soldiers would then leave the helmets strewn about in conquered villages, hoping to inflame the wildest imaginations of enemy armies passing through the area. Folklore has it that along the same lines, though pitching at a slightly lower angle, American psy-op specialists in Vietnam left foot-long condoms along the Ho Chi Minh Trail, presumably to preoccupy the enemy soldiers with hiding their wives and daughters.
Introducing a Fun Family of Good Friends, an attempt to translate cute Japanese cartoon characters into English without knowing Japanese. (via Cos).