Tuesday, March 21, 2006

Foreign language translations

Yesterday one of my loyal U.K. readers (Robotjam) commented:
“Duke, do you not have "the tip" over your side of the Atlantic pond? We have these all over and you just take all your rubbish and bung it in a big skip, usually sorted into material types so it can all be recycled.”

That sent me to my British-American Dictionary for a translation. Here’s what I learned:

1. tip n v : dump, “council tip”, ‘no tipping’ (sign on side of road), “this place is a tip”.
(Thus, “the tip” becomes “the dump.”)

2. bung sl v : lob, throw carelessly, casually toss, “I’ll bung it in the post on Monday”, also n. a bribe, “he bunged him a few quid," “he asked for a bung”.
(Thus “bung it” clearly means “toss it.”)

3. skip n : dumpster.

AH! NOW I get it. My answer is: yes and no. We have recycling centers all over the U.S., and many larger communities actually have separate large skips labeled for “paper” or “plastic” or “glass” or “cans” (aluminum). And people will haul their own trash to those locations and bung it into the appropriate skip. And some cities encourage residents to separate their trash into containers (recyclable and non-recyclable) for curbside pickup.

Victoria is either too small or insufficiently advanced to offer such services. Thus I was happy to learn that the city would pick up all my piles of trash for no additional fee.

ANYHOO, all of that started me thinking about mangled translations I had seen or heard about when some other language is translated into “American” (not to be confused with “English,” a completely separate language. This has been pointed out by George Bernard Shaw and countless others.)

A quick search led me to the list I’ve reproduced below for your enjoyment. No, I did NOT make these up!

Tokyo hotel's rules and regulations:
GUESTS ARE REQUESTED NOT TO SMIKE OR DO OTHER DISGUSTING BEHAVIOURS IN BED.

Hotel notice, Tokyo:
IS FORBIDDEN TO STEAL HOTEL TOWELS PLEASE. IF YOU ARE NOT A PERSON TO DO SUCH A THING IS PLEASE NOT TO READ NOTIS.

On the menu of a Swiss restaurant:
OUR WINES LEAVE YOU NOTHING TO HOPE FOR.

In a Tokyo bar:
SPECIAL COCKTAILS FOR THE LADIES WITH NUTS.

In a Bangkok temple:
IT IS FORBIDDEN TO ENTER A WOMAN EVEN A FOREIGNER IF DRESSED AS A MAN.

Hotel room notice, Chiang-Mai, Thailand:
PLEASE DO NOT BRING SOLICITORS INTO YOUR ROOM.

Hotel brochure, Italy:
THIS HOTEL IS RENOWNED FOR ITS PEACE AND SOLITUDE. IN FACT, CROWDS FROM ALL OVER THE WORLD FLOCK HERE TO ENJOY ITS SOLITUDE.

Hotel lobby, Bucharest:
THE LIFT IS BEING FIXED FOR THE NEXT DAY. DURING THAT TIME WE REGRET THAT YOU WILL BE UNBEARABLE.

In a Leipzig elevator:
DO NOT ENTER THE LIFT BACKWARDS, AND ONLY WHEN LIT UP.

Hotel elevator, Belgrade:
TO MOVE THE CABIN, PUSH BUTTON FOR WISHING FLOOR. IF THE CABIN SHOULD ENTER MORE PERSONS, EACH ONE SHOULD PRESS A NUMBER OF WISHING FLOOR. DRIVING IS THEN GOING ALPHABETICALLY BY NATIONAL ORDER.

(My favorite! Where else but Paris?) Hotel elevator, Paris:
PLEASE LEAVE YOUR VALUES AT THE FRONT DESK.

Hotel, Athens:
VISITORS ARE EXPECTED TO COMPLAIN AT THE OFFICE BETWEEN THE HOURS OF 9 AND 11 AM DAILY.

Hotel, Yugoslavia:
THE FLATTENING OF UNDERWEAR WITH PLEASURE IS THE JOB OF THE CHAMBERMAID.

Hotel, Japan:
YOU ARE INVITED TO TAKE ADVANTAGE OF THE CHAMBERMAID.

Sign in Japanese public bath:
FOREIGN GUESTS ARE REQUESTED NOT TO PULL COCK IN TUB.

Sign in men's rest room in Japan:

TO STOP LEAK TURN COCK TO THE RIGHT.

In the lobby of a Moscow hotel across from a Russian Orthodox monastery:
YOU ARE WELCOME TO VISIT THE CEMETERY WHERE FAMOUS RUSSIAN AND SOVIET COMPOSERS, ARTISTS, AND WRITERS ARE BURIED DAILY EXCEPT THURSDAY.

Hotel catering to skiers, Austria:

NOT TO PERAMBULATE THE CORRIDORS IN THE HOURS OF REPOSE IN THE BOOTS OF ASCENSION.

Taken from a menu, Poland:
SALAD A FIRM'S OWN MAKE; LIMPID RED BEET SOUP WITH CHEESY DUMPLINGS IN THE FORM OF A FINGER; ROASTED DUCK LET LOOSE; BEEF RASHERS BEATEN UP IN THE COUNTRY PEOPLE'S FASHION.

Supermarket, Hong Kong:
FOR YOUR CONVENIENCE, WE RECOMMEND COURTEOUS, EFFICIENT SELF-SERVICE.

Dry cleaner's, Bangkok:
DROP YOUR TROUSERS HERE FOR THE BEST RESULTS.

Outside a dress shop, Paris:
DRESSES FOR STREET WALKING.

Outside a dress shop, Hong Kong:
LADIES HAVE FITS UPSTAIRS.

Tailor shop, Rhodes:
ORDER YOUR SUMMERS SUIT. BECAUSE IS BIG RUSH, WE WILL EXECUTE CUSTOMERS IN STRICT ROTATION.

In an East African newspaper:
A NEW SWIMMING POOL IS RAPIDLY TAKING SHAPE SINCE THE CONTRACTORS HAVE THROWN IN THE BULK OF THEIR WORKERS.

Hotel, Vienna:
IN CASE OF FIRE, DO YOUR UTMOST TO ALARM THE HOTEL PORTER.

A sign posted in Germany's Black Forest:
IT IS STRICTLY FORBIDDEN ON OUR BLACK FOREST CAMPING SITE THAT PEOPLE OF DIFFERENT SEX, FOR INSTANCE, MEN AND WOMEN, LIVE TOGETHER IN ONE TENT UNLESS THEY ARE MARRIED WITH EACH OTHER FOR THIS PURPOSE.

Hotel, Zurich:
BECAUSE OF THE IMPROPRIETY OF ENTERTAINING GUESTS OF THE OPPOSITE SEX IN THE BEDROOM, IT IS SUGGESTED THAT THE LOBBY BE USED FOR THIS PURPOSE.

An advertisement by a Hong Kong dentist:
TEETH EXTRACTED BY THE LATEST METHODISTS.

From a Russian book on Chess:
A LOT OF WATER HAS BEEN PASSED UNDER THE BRIDGE SINCE THIS VARIATION HAS BEEN PLAYED.

A laundry in Rome:
LADIES, LEAVE YOUR CLOTHES HERE AND SPEND THE AFTERNOON HAVING A GOOD TIME.

Tourist agency, Czechoslovakia:
TAKE ONE OF OUR HORSE-DRIVEN CITY TOURS. WE GUARANTEE NO MISCARRIAGES.

Advert for donkey rides, Thailand:
WOULD YOU LIKE TO RIDE ON YOUR OWN ASS?

In the window on a Swedish furrier:
FUR COATS MADE FOR LADIES FROM THEIR OWN SKIN.

The box of a clockwork toy made in Hong Kong:
GUARANTEED TO WORK THROUGHOUT ITS USEFUL LIFE.

Detour sign in Kyushi, Japan:
STOP. DRIVE SIDEWAYS.

In a Swiss mountain inn:
SPECIAL TODAY - NO ICE-CREAM.

Airline ticket office, Copenhagen:
WE TAKE YOUR BAGS AND SEND THEM IN ALL DIRECTIONS.

On the door of a Moscow hotel room:
IF THIS IS YOUR FIRST VISIT TO THE USSR, YOU ARE WELCOME TO IT.

Cocktail lounge, Norway:
LADIES ARE REQUESTED NOT TO HAVE CHILDREN IN THE BAR.

At a Budapest zoo:
PLEASE DO NOT FEED THE ANIMALS.IF YOU HAVE ANY SUITABLE FOOD, GIVE IT TO THE GUARD ON DUTY.

Doctors office, Rome:
SPECIALIST IN WOMEN AND OTHER DISEASES.

Hotel, Acapulco:
THE MANAGER HAS PERSONALLY PASSED ALL THE WATER SERVED HERE.

Information booklet about using a hotel air conditioner, Japan:
COOLES AND HEATES:IF YOU WANT JUST CONDITION OF WARM AIR IN YOUR ROOM, PLEASE CONTROL YOURSELF.

Car rental brochure, Tokyo:
WHEN PASSENGER OF FOOT HEAVE IN SIGHT, TOOTLE THE HORN.TRUMPET HIM MELODIOUSLY AT FIRST, BUT IF HE STILL OBSTACLES YOUR PASSAGE THEN TOOTLE HIM WITH VIGOR.

Two signs from a Majorcan shop entrance:
ENGLISH WELL TALKING HERE SPEECHING AMERICAN

2 comments:

r.e.wolf said...

THEN TOOTLE HIM WITH VIGOR

I think, really, that just says it all.

robotJAM said...

Duke, unfortunately I can think of quite a few of these I have spotted locally to me written by local people.

One school kid that Mrs Robot teaches has written on his CV (er resume) that he had previous experience working in a restraint.

A shop next to where I work in meter high letters had proudly said they had A 50% OF SALE ?!?!

It is really quite interesting though how you can tell peoples nationality by the way they use certain words.