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Hazards of Machine Translation: Eat at the Server Error (yum!)

Apparently there has been some hasty Babel Fish translation going on in China in preparation for the Olympics. The Chinese characters pictured mean "restaurant". The sign looks rather expensive! :-)

(from Geekologie)

Having worked in the localization business its hard for me to fathom printing and posting an expensive sign based on machine translation, but I see it happen all the time both for English in Japan and Japanese in Hawaii. In Japan I once worked for a company that had a large professionally printed sign warning "Use not the door lest the portal consume you." I felt like a druid had just cursed me every time I walked by that area. Mika recently noticed a (American) surfer with a very impressive looking kanji tattoo that simply read "foot":


The moral to the story is: Use a professional translator for signs and tattoos, or at least ask a native speaking friend. If you live in Hawaii and don't have any Chinese or Japanese speaking friends then you need to get out more. :-)

Pat, thank you for sending us this link.

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Comment by Cameron Souza on July 23, 2008 at 7:33pm
ROFL! An old version of Kingsoft QuickTrans seems to be the culprit in the obscene Chinese cases:

Comment by Viil on July 23, 2008 at 8:22am
This made me cry from laughter :) ...it still does!
Comment by Daniel Leuck on July 22, 2008 at 6:56pm

Kevin just sent along this gem. It explains how a hanzi (Chinese character) with only three strokes and many meanings, one of which is "copulate", has lead to quite a few amusing signs in the country. Apparently a popular translation software package defaults to "fuck" as the meaning for this common character.

I also received a link to the opposite of Engrish.com, Hanzi Smatter - dedicated to the misuse of Chinese characters in western culture. Observe:

A very impressive looking tattoo reading "Power Piglet!"
Comment by Mika Leuck on July 22, 2008 at 5:58pm
Yes. Dan shows me postings on Engrish.com often >:-/. They are very funny, but it goes both ways!

I admit I laughed pretty hard at "Having Fun Prohibited", "Please don't accept stranglers invitation" and "Don't come to my bangolow house, understand, O.K. I hate all of you." I wonder if the last one sounded better in Malay.
Comment by Alex on July 22, 2008 at 5:33pm
well, I must say I am not too surrpised...have you seen www.engrish.com ?






Comment by Truman Leung on July 22, 2008 at 11:10am
That's incredible and hilarious that they printed the error message on the huge sign. The Babel Fish programmer who wrote that error message would have a good laugh!
Comment by Daniel Leuck on July 22, 2008 at 9:10am
That would be a good save if someone inquired! The kanji for intestine also looks pretty cool but I wouldn't tattoo it on my arm. :-)
Comment by J. David Beutel on July 22, 2008 at 8:30am
looks like a surfer: head, trunk, arm, riding a board down a wave

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