Thursday, November 18, 2010

Lost In Translation: Tattoos, Signs, Shirts, ...what about contracts?

  • We've all heard the jokes about the Chinglish signs with the funny translations from Chinese to English. 
  • And, we've all seen westerner's with funny translations of Chinese Characters tattooed on their bodies.

So my question is, what do the documents from international companies look like? Are the  corporate documents exchanged today after the IPO between SAIC and GM in Chinglish

And, does that mean that in the end, we will, like our languages merge into some form of hybrid English-Chinese culture/society, and we don't need to be concerned about who will be #1 or #2. Because really, won't we all (the citizens of China and the USA) be united by our culture of conspicuous consumption, Oligarchy multi-national government, speaking our new language, which will be a mixture of 140 character sentences, Chinglish, and SMS abbreviations.

Following are some interesting and amusing articles, web-sites, on this topic

Chinglish: Embarassing goof ups or "disappearing culture"?

November 18, 2010 by Tiffany Ap

"With the vast number of foreigners (especially English teachers) in China, we've always wondered why the government couldn't just hire some of them to do a better job of translating signs around the city.... a segment of the population, 9122 facebook members, have created a group called Save Chinglish--China's Disappearing Culture to encourage the preservation of the linguistic oddities. We're rather fond of Chinglish signs ourselves--the comical sightings always make our day. >> Continue Reading

English Tattoos: Chinglish 4 Life

By Kate Ray, Shanghaiist
We've all heard the urban legend about the American girl who wanted to get the Chinese character "love" tattooed to her back and ended up with "whore" instead. But now, with more and more Chinese getting tattoos of English phrases without necessarily knowing what they mean, it turns out that the trend has turned the other way....
Shawn Marion's Tattoo
"Demon Bird Camphor"

...But foreign language tattoos in China still aren't nearly as ubiquitous as they are in North America. According to Xinhua, up to 35% of NBA stars have a Chinese-themed tattoo, and plenty of them are completely nonsensical. Toronto Raptors player Shawn Marion apparently intended to have his pseudonym "The Matrix" tattooed in Chinese, but ended up with the phrase "Demon Bird Camphor" instead.

April 2009, By Tim Johnson  "McClatchy Newspapers"

BEIJING — "While getting a tattoo in Mandarin characters may be all the rage among some Westerners, particularly basketball stars, in the ink parlors in this part of the world some of the panache goes to those who get tattoos in English....

....China Daily noted that Chris Andersen of the Denver Nuggets, who lived in Beijing as an adolescent, also might've gotten a bum recommendation for his tattoo.
"He wanted the character for 'good' on one arm and 'bad' on the other — accurately summing up his character and performances," China Daily said. "Unfortunately, something got lost in translation as the character for bad also means 'nausea.'  >> Continue Reading 

Tattoo Translation Hotline

If you have any friends who have poluted their bodies with random Chinese (hanzi 汉字)tatoos, this is a great blog to do a little fact checking to see what they have really been stamped with for life.

Hanzi Smatter: Dedicated to the Misuse of Chinese Characters in Western Culture.
"The blog Hanzi Smatter keeps a great record of embarrassingly translated Chinese tattoos - our personal favorite is "Crazy Diarrhea."

And If you just enjoy as much as I do the greatly hilarious Engrish translations (from all different languages, not just Chinese) on signs, you'll enjoy this site. You can also friend others like us on facebook here.

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