language matters

July 20, 2008

As Beijing gears up for the Olympics in just a couple of weeks, I’m sure there are matters much more significant than the translation of Chinese menus into English.  Still, I loved this NPR story on Beijing’s attempts toward improvement.  (Hearing some of these translation faux-pas’ reminded me of my travel in China a couple of years ago.  I LOVED stopping to read museum signs and posted public articles because I often found the translations laughable.  (Can you imagine sitting down at the neighborhood cafe to decide between pee soup, saliva  (i.e. mouthwatering) chicken, or succulant, mouthwatering crap (–not carp or crab)?

And you thought your Spanish teacher was too picky!  (I’ve got a feeling Chinese English students aren’t getting away with sloppy work; in spite of translation-trouble here and there, they no-doubt put to shame our meager [American] attempts at language-acquisition.)

Even so, you can bet I’ll be keeping one eye glued to the street corner (signs) as athletes & journalists keep us in touch with this summer’s games!

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3 Responses to “language matters”


  1. hee-hee. did you see the one at the panada exhibit in Beijing:
    “Do not climb on fence lest suddenness happens.” i took a photo of it. we now caution our kids against suddenness.

    i also saw one hotel description that said, “You won’t believe your eyeballs.”

    don’t you want to go back?

  2. jt Says:

    Mellie … I so DO wanna go back! (Wouldn’t it be great to be there together?! Class reunion 2014?) Um. There’s a TY note coming your way. The package you sent was incredible. (And – did you know? – it came at the perfect time. Powerful memories are such a balm amidst the grief of deep loss. Thank you for helping us to keep those close at hand.) Your such a swell friend …

  3. jt Says:

    I mean … you’re – as in you are.


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