Friday, April 20, 2007

In Translation

Unfortunately for the people at Kingsoft, Corp., the makers of an apparently faulty translation program, and an unnamed Chinese Furniture Company, some things just don't do well in translation.

My sympathy goes to those who found offense at finding an offensive racial epithet on their new couch. However, we must be honest. The error, obviously uninentional and much regretted, is also extremely funny. Translation errors of this sort often are.

I myself have suffered from these problems from time to time. I speak a dialect of Spanish spoken predominantly in Spain and not understood in many Latin American countries due to the strange vocabulary, thick accent and rapid cadence. For example, in Spain, "mono" means cute. Elsewhere in the Spanish-speaking world, "mono" means monkey. Try explaining to a Hispanic person that you were NOT calling him/her a monkey when you can only speak in Spanish and he/she doesn't recognize the only word you know for monkey. And we won't even get into mamacita. Very fun, I'm telling you. Not so much at the time, but later, it's a laugh riot.

UPDATE: For more translation fun, check out Thanks to RPP for providing me with the URL.


Blogger reasonably prudent poet said...

i have two comments on this. 1.) the fact that the woman wants to sue kinda bugs me. maybe this opinion is a product of my white privilege: i will never know just how dehumanizing that word might be to a person of color. but if i got a couch with a label "dirty dyke pink" and then found out it was just a tranlation error... i think i'd have to be a serious opportunist to sue over it.

and 2.) if you like mistranslations (which i do) you should check out -- or maybe you know of it already? it's a *hilarious* site that features photos of actual signs in japan (and sometimes other countries) that have really bad, usually really funny mistranlations of english. so, so funny. it's the only site that sometimes makes me cry laughing so hard.


2:14 PM  
Blogger Melinda Barton said...

I was looking for that site to go with this post b/c I couldn't remember the URL. Thanks. By the way, please excuse the profanity in the post that follows this one.

3:51 PM  
Blogger reasonably prudent poet said...

excuse the profanity??? i LOVE profanity. i cuss like a sailor and have had to force myself to lay off a little in the blog so i don't alienate everybody.

4:21 PM  

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