Jan 30, 2007

Love blessings under the twinkle stars

This Valentine's day, wouldn't you like to take your sweetie for The dinner in the candlelight, experience Thick feeling sweet language, and feel The temperature from center of palm of hand?

This is a flyer for a Valentine's day dinner at a Wudaokou area coffee shop. I burst out laughing when I picked it up and glanced over it, so I thought it would be worthwhile to share. Click on the image below for a closer look.

As juvenile and tired as it may seem to poke fun at this type of Chinglish, you can actually read quite a bit into this little flyer. I'm sure there's more than I can list here, but off the top of my head, I can point out these deep points:

1. When you input what was originally a pleasant-sounding Chinese love poem into a word-by-word translation engine like babelfish, you'll get a nonsensical English poem like what you see in the flier. I won't translate the whole thing, but as an example, take the second line of the poem. I think that even beginning students of Chinese could could figure out that "十指相扣" should not be translated as "Ten button up mutually", but probably something closer to "ten fingers interlocking".

2. The coffee shop that put out this flyer is literally a three-minute walk from BLCU, a college for foreigners in Beijing to study Chinese. The restaurant could have found any of a number of students there from America, Europe, or even Africa, paid them a couple dollars for beer money, and got a much better translation. When I see "Spaghetti w.tomato sauce&tuna" on a restaurant menu here, I don't mark it on my list of places to try out. The financial return on that two dollar investment to do a translation would have been pretty decent, had the restaurant opted for that.

This should tell you something about the Chinese business mentality: they will generally pick the cheapest possible choice and save as much money as they can in the moment, and not worry about how the thriftiness will impact the business in the future.

3. Are those in fact two girls holding hands in the flyer? I've changed my mind, I think I need to get over to the tuna spaghetti restaurant so I can glimpse some Howard Stern Show style action. Yum.


Anonymous Lynn Luo said...

You have a lot of experience in China.Good pics.You are good at observing.Every culture has many sides,it's interesting to see different side of a culture.

12:21 AM  
Anonymous Lynn Luo said...

And I have to say it's really funny!!Although I don't like such things in China,but that's society now,sorry we can't get everything well as we think in China.We do what we can for China and believe everything will be better.

12:42 AM  

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