Lost in Translation

Whatever you do, don’t blench and reach!                            It will be once you start biting it.

Here you go, Crippie. What’s a Gravid?

(If you can’t read some of the print, click on the photos to see a bigger version.)

I have to admit to blatant plagiarism from a site called engrish.com. Apparently, they have taken pictures of actual signs — most in China from what I understand — and posted them with comments. As you can see, something has been lost in translation. Directly translating the words from Chinese to English leaves the native English speakers with curious dog pose. (You know the one where you stand and look at something with a confused look on your face and slightly tilt your head to the right.) There are also the blatant misspellings like the menu that said “Braised Dork with Barboo shoots.” Or the supermarket sign that translated “Very Suspicious Supermarket.” Let’s just say I won’t be buying my fish there.

Apparently, losing things in translation is not confined to going from one language to the other. Shockingly, things are lost in translation between those that speak the same language. Have you ever tried to follow an Australian excitedly recounting a tense rugby match? Or a bus driver with a cockney accent trying to warn you about being in certain parts of London (yes, that was me.). How about the current flow of metaphorical words from the hip hop community? Do you really know what a duck and a bucket are, and what it means to chop it up? Yeah, I had to look it up, too.

What about that miscommunication that happens in your own house? I can not tell you the number of times my husband and I have looked at each other like the other was crazy because we could not hear what the other was saying. Or, more typically, we responded to what we thought we heard, leaving our spouse thoroughly confused. Did I ever tell you about the time I was ranting and raving at Honda for naming their new car the ELEPHANT? “Why in the world would anybody buy a car named the elephant? What were they thinking? Sure. You’re going to say to your friend, ‘Isn’t my new elephant great?’ Ridiculous!” My brother looks at me like I had lost my marbles and says very distinctly, “EL-E-MENT.” Silly me.


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