Posts Tagged ‘lost in translation’

39. Lost in Translation

Wednesday, May 12th, 2010

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For some time, I’d intended to write a post about signs, menus and other printed materials that featured funny, ridiculous or nonsensical translations to English.

But upon finding a NY Times slideshow (accompanied by an article by Andrew Jacobs and a readers’ gallery of submitted photos), I’ve resigned to the fact that I simply couldn’t do a better job than hundreds of people at once. Check them out.

There are some real gems among the submitted photos, such as:

#9: “Decent Public School” in Varanasi, India (taken by Justin Hefter).
#20: “Careful Drowning” in Putuo Shan, China (taken by Jonas Crimm).
#43: “Genuine Fake Watches” in Instanbul, Turkey (taken by Jules Villamor).
#44: “Each hour takes about 1 hour” in Seoul, Korea (taken by bmarconi).
#59: “Stay away from the deer with ANTLERS!!” in Miyajima, Japan (taken by cesse123).
#82: “No Wasting GARBAGE!” in Indonesia (taken by Anthony Zak).
#88: “Sorry we’re open” in Instanbul, Turkey (taken by Skidel).
#151: “Wikipedia fried with eggs” on a menu in Beijing, China (taken by cohenhead21).

Some highlights that come to mind, from my travels, include:

  • “Beatiful ladies” outside a strip club in Tijuana, Mexico [Beatify: to declare (a deceased person) to be among the blessed and thus entitled to specific religious honor].
  • “Sea products” and “Shepherd’s bag” on a menu in Bratislava, Slovakia.
  • “Meet balls” on a menu in Bangkok, Thailand (see above photo).

If you have any you’d like to add to this list, feel free to post them (with a link to the photo) as comments.

Taken in Spain by Rhett Larsen

Taken in Spain by Rhett Larsen

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12. Tattoos About the Place

Wednesday, June 17th, 2009

angelinaFew things capture the paradox of backpacker pretense better than tattoos. Every year, thousands of young travelers try desperately to be original only to end up behaving like everyone else. Getting a tattoo of a place you’ve visited is sort of like wearing American Apparel. It was cool and unique when nobody was doing it, but soon enough it got played out (see Nice but ubiquitous hoodie).

Ah, tattoos. So youthful and rebellious. Such a ballsy move to paint oneself with permanent artwork. And when backpackers sport a dope tat from their sojourn overseas, well that’s a backhanded beenou my friends. Go ahead, ask them what it means or better yet:  where they got it. Before you know it, you’ll be witnessing the eruption of Mt. St. Beenou.

A few backpacker tattoos to ponder (combinations of the below options may also exist):

  1. Plants and wildlife. Take, for example, a simple dolphin or whale tail. Countless girls have fallen victim to bad ink (see Megan Fox) and a common precursor is a fond and lasting encounter with porpoises off the coast of [Insert tropical dolphin inhabited place here]. Female backpacker Type A suffers terribly from the above Backpacker Tattoo Syndrome (BTS).
  2. Traditional/tribal tattoo styles. Thai bamboo style tattoo. Anything Maori. It looks fucking cool. Surfers rock it so it must be, right? Don’t forget that Mike Tyson has one on his face. If you wanna pull an Angelina, go adopt a kid from Vietnam.
  3. Foreign writing. I’ll be the first to admit that Sanskrit, Arabic and Farsi look awesome. But not if you’re a white boy from Idaho. You end up looking like that dad wearing the “My Sister Went to the Bahamas and All I Got Was This Lousy T-Shirt” shirt. Speaking of t-shirts, you may be aware of t-shirts from Japan and Taiwan printed in senseless English (e.g. Happy So Much!). The meaning is lost in translation. Yeah well, that “Carpe diem” you got in Chinese characters is just as meaningless (e.g. Grab Time) to the average Chinese person.
  4. Pretend spirituality. Buddhist, Taoist and vegetarian symbols are common offenses.
  5. Carpe diem. Cliches are excellent ways for backpackers to express their originality.
  6. Nationalistic beenous. On the topic of cliches, Canadian backpackers often have tattoos of Canadian flags or maple leaves. These are as cliche as the Canadian flag patches on their backpacks.
#1-2 combo.

#1-2 combo.

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