Saturday, February 03, 2007

Translation Boo-boos

Imagine that you are travelling in China.

It's time for lunch. You are famished.

You go to the nearest restaurant and look at the menu. It's all in mandarin.

You are in trouble coz you can't read mandarin.

So you search around, looking for a restaurant that has an English menu.

After a while.....you found one!!

You quickly grab the menu and look for something to order.

Then you see this :

Corrugated Iron Beef

Cow Bowels in Sauce

Worm Pig Stomach

Suddenly you don't feel hungry anymore.

No kidding, this article was featured in The Star newpapers in December 06 (together with that Fried Rice with Crap).

Direct translations can be funny to us, but I can imagine how painful is it for the Chinese Government. The problem with China is that they take word-for-word translations instead of looking at the big picture. Their intentions may be good, but the results are somewhat the laughing stock of the country.

China is now busy clamping down on bad English translations for the upcoming Beijing Olympics 2008. One can probably see why.

OneManBandwidth had some funny postings on awful Chinglish translations :




Photo source : OneManBandwidth

I Can't Believe It's Not Butter vs Unbelievable This is Not Butter


Photo source : OneManBandwidth










Speaking of bad translations, even software that provides translation services needs to improvise.

Below is a real life example translation of Chern's email using Babelfish (from simplified Mandarin to English).

Doesn't make any sense?

Chern's actually asking "Copy Feng Shui Master Richard, please recommend a good date for me. I suggest November 28 based on the Lunar calendar (co-incidentally is 26 al-Hijjah 1,427 Masihi, or 16 Jan 2006). Is it auspicious or not?"

If all gets too confusing, do what Malaysians do - Just take every english word and modify it to Bahasa Malaysia!!

Transformation - Transformasi

Budget - Bajet

Sexy - Seksi

Academy - Akedami

Click - Klik

BUT then again, Malaysian subtitles can also be a joke, as witnessed in one of my earlier postings (click here)....Oh well, better have some humour than none......

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