Lost in Translation: Engrish Strikes Again
"What we've got here is failure to communicate."
Cool Hand Luke, 1967
What if Abraham Lincoln, instead of saying ...
Four score and seven years ago our fathers brought forth on this continent, a new nation, conceived in Liberty, and dedicated to the proposition that all men are created equal.
Had said ...
The score of thing four which is the same where all people were drawn up and 7 years ago this continent, it is brought up with new nation, it is free and our fathers who are imagined, and are lifted up to proposition.
Loses some of the magic, doesn't it?
That's roughly what happens when the first sentence of the Gettysburg Address is translated into Japanese without respect for idiom and nuance.
For the last ten years, Engrish.com has collected some of the best examples of translations-gone-haywire.
Here in the US, we sometimes scratch our heads reading owner's manual instructions for imported products that were written in the country of origin.
Engrish.com explains that many of these Frankensteinian translations are done as design elements primarily in Asian countries to give products a certain cool factor.
Engrish: French Canadian Style
Our friends at Marketing Brillo were surprised when they found one of their recent blog entries had been picked up by a Quebec website. It had apparently been translated into French and the French was in turn translated back to English.
In the post, Marketing Brillo said...
Rule One: Avoid self-promotion. Anybody who blogs in order to blow their own horn will quickly turn off any audience. As an editor who sees a lot of press releases, I hate it when an organization describes itself as the leading this-or-that.
The translation said...
Rule One: Avoid self-promotion. As an compiler who sees a scads of cluster releases, I malice it when an classifying describes itself as the leading this-or-that. Anybody who blogs in categorization to big their own horn bequeath apace put together exhibit any audience.
Our personal favorite, however, was how this sentence...
People are most interested in other people, so if you're genuine -- if you let us know who you are -- yes, we really, truly want to hear what YOU have to say.
Became this sentence...
People are most interested in other people, so if you're frank - if you explode us be versed who you are -- yes, we in fact, surely indigence to condone what YOU father to bid.
Globalization is a tough nut to crack. So many countries, so little time. Communication is not just about translation, but nuanced meaning as well.
Apocalypzia suggests that if you're a blogger -- like who isn't? -- check to see if your posts are getting the French-Canadian treatment. There isn't much you can do about it, but at least you'll be aware.
And don't think that you can use Babel Fish to robo-translate some interesting news item you found in the Tibetan Daily Bugle for your blog post or you'll be guilty of spreading Engrish yourself. And, If we're not careful, we'll all end up like the Tower of Babel.
Is that what you want? Wouldn't you rather have a delightful day and a paralyzed mind?