Monday, September 11, 2006

The Shrimp Fucks the Cabbage

At Boing Boing, Xeni Jardin writes about finding badly translated signs in China:

"Last June I spent most of a two hour layover in Beijing on a wild taxi ride to stores near the airport, trying to find a charger for my camera battery. While running up the escalator in a department store I spotted some classic examples of Chinglish on the signs that indicated which departments were on each floor. My favorites were:

"Thing on bed"

"Take a picture - clap for the remembe"


"Fuck the fresh fruit and vegetable"

My friend Hutch was with me when I snapped this photo of an unfortunately-translated travel agency sign in Lhasa, Tibet. Hutch found some other translation beauties elsewhere along his travels in China, and says,

The term "Chinglish" generally refers to poor translations from Chinese to English. Humorous examples can be found on several web sites, which post photos of signs and printed materials found in China, or product packaging from China. Recently the Chinese government has begun a campaign to eliminate Chinglish."
Read the complete post at Boing Boing

Smorgasbord offers an explanation:

"Following up on yesterday's post about China's crackdown on "Chingrish," or bad Chinese/English translations, BoingBoing reader Bin Sun points out the likely cause of the laff-worthy "X fucks Y" examples we've found:

"In one of the links referenced in your post, i found a sign that reads


In chinese, this actually translates to "Stir-fried Dried Shrimp with Pak Choy [Ed. Note: aka 'bok choy,' a leafy vegetable]". Link to image.

And here is another:
Image link.

The problem arises because in certain area of China (actually mainly across the strait in Taiwan first), "dry/dried" has the same pronounciation as "fuck" and shared the same character in the simplified Chinese -- they probably used babelfish to do a mechanical translation."

You can find quite a few of these in Colombo as well. Take a walk down the household goods aisle at Arpico (Hyde Park Corner) and you'll find many items with bizarre descriptions. There was a knife with cleaning instructions that read "wipe to fuck" <ouch> and detergents that made everything "fucking clean". Unfortunately I didn't have a camera to take pictures of these priceless items!

I was informed there are a few shampoo/conditioner brands imported from China which have equally baffling instructions. I haven't checked those out yet. I feel weird about hanging around reading the labels on shampoo bottles....

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