Monday, December 04, 2006

Bad Translations

English is a tough language to learn, so I’m sympathetic to the often misguided attempts foreigners make to translate signs and movie and tv captions from their own language into English.

For some reason, the transition from Chinese to English seems to be the toughest of all. I’ve seen a lot of really funny translations in China, but my favorite was a memorial plaque at a Roman Catholic church in Beijing to Matthew Ricci, a real deal Jesuit dude during the European imperial era who even the Chinese celebrate.

After a long and flowery introduction, the bronze plaque stated that all Chinese Christians owed a debt of gratitude to Ricci for “hardly working to propagate the gospel.”

I think the term they were looking for was ‘hardily’ :^)

Ran across these badly translated English captions from some Hong Kong movie industry flicks. Made me laugh cuz I’ve seen so many signs and captions just like this in China and around the world. We may be in the midst of a shrinking globe but I think we've still got a ways to go....


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