Sunday, July 20, 2008

Chinglish and other messages lost in translation...

So, it's definitely unfortunate that Bill Simmons is off for the rest of the summer, because he would have definitely gotten a kick out of his fake brother of a different mother being considered a big enough star to have his name translated into Mandarin and sold for 40RMB (about $7) at the Great Wall of China's closest gift shop. I'll have to send it to his mailbag in the fall.

(Bobby Simmons, by the way, is a backup forward who averaged under 8 points and 22 minutes per game last year and just got traded to the New Jersey Nets. Maybe his blog is wildly popular in China or something?)

While Bobby Simmons isn't a misspelling, the misrepresentation of the role-player being a "NBA Star" is what got me putting together this post. There is, in touristy areas, quite a lot of English to be found. It's generally paired with the original Mandarin text and is there to help us bumbling tourists find our way around.

However, the Chinese are rather famous for their awkward or downright incorrect translations. It's called Chinglish (let's ignore the racial undertones on that one), and despite the government's best efforts to clean it up before the Games, still can be found quite readily throughout Beijing.

Here are a few of my favorites:

"Dwight Wade" - found alongside Bobby Simmons in the NBA Stars bin.

"Me Jail Bait" - seen on a t-shirt.

"I Heart BJ" - meaning Beijing, of course. Seen on a t-shirt.

"A Step Closer Helps Keep It Cleaner" - seen on a urinal.

"To Return Is Our Welcome" - seen at a bookstore exit.

"Natural to Prevent Health Care" - seen on an herbal pharmacy.

"Shitake Mushroom Rape" - seen on a menu. I presumed it was stuffed mushrooms.

"Onion Explodes the Mutton" - it was delicious.

I'm going to try and keep listing the good ones I see, with some pictures, too...

Side note: PBR makes bottled water to sell in China. It is definitely the PBR of bottled water.


Helliferocious said...

'I Heart BJ' - that is just too awesome. :)

Liz Williams said...

My Favorite is "A Step Closer Helps Keep It Cleaner." They're just being honest!! hahahaha.

I have been way behind reading your blog, because I was off wandering the opposite side of the earth. But I love the China stories! I'm glad you're having a good time. It sounds awesome. I still haven't seen the fanny pack though! BTW, don't call it a fanny pack if there are any Brits around. Turns out 'Fanny' means something totally different in England...

Keep up the blogging! Many years to go, right?