Friday, May 8, 2009

Chinese menu follies and bad tats

[Links in this post will make more sense if you have fonts installed for Chinese and Japanese. Arial Unicode MS would suffice.]

Those who are aware of all Internet traditions have seen this before. I have seen this before. But I don't think I've linked it. By way of Inside the Asylum and Boing Boing, here is May I take your order? This is the sort of thing that if you like, for instance, English As She Is Spoke [that's two links, and I challenge anyone to read either out loud and keep a straight face], you will like it a lot, and it may lead to LOL so intense that pain may result. Be warned. Also, language! NSFW because of language and likelihood of uncontrollable laughter. The comments go on for days, and many are illuminating (about issues of translation), or funny, or both.

Sidenote on the power of coincidence: the story referenced in the post below about CFL's was filed by the Times reporter from Foshan, China. The restaurant whose menu is the focus of "May I take your order?" is in Foshan, China. I can assure the reader that there is no conspiracy or aforethought going on here; but will the reader believe me?

A couple more of these: Engrish dot com. The clothing, especially. If American hipsters had a genuine sense of the absurd, we would see more of these T-shirts and jackets on the street. The Chinglish Files.

This, then, leads us on to Hanzi Smatter, in which we find many examples of bad tattoos. People who do not speak or read Chinese or Japanese do like to get bits of those languages tattooed on their bodies. They take it on faith that the tattoo artist is both knowledgeable and honest. That's a lot to take on faith. The NY Times wrote about Hanzi Smatter, in case you need more explanation than the subhead: "dedicated to the misuse of chinese characters in western culture." [Lower case in original.] Which sounds like they are promoting the misuse, etc. But that's not it, at all. At Hanzi Smatter is a link to a couple of the "flash" charts that tattooists use, the source of their knowledge of Asian script: Gibberish Asian Font Mystery Solved.

Related: When LOLCats don't quite satisfy; Look at this hipster.

Update: Language Log on another Chinese translation problem: how did the F-word get into so many menus and grocery stores? The Etiology and Elaboration of a Flagrant Mistranslation. Not safe for work, or some homes, either.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

...please where can I buy a unicorn?