Mar 24, 2011

Pound cake Chinglish

Had I been employed as the translator for this product, I would have translated it as "pound cake", since that's what it appears to be in the photo on the box.

Someone with a different opinion though it would best be called "SLICES THE CAKE".

This made me think of another Chinglish post I wrote about "It has some of Beijing's the cheapest mobile phones and SIM cards".

What is the obsession these translators have with doing everything in a bizarre present tense?
  • "It has some of Beijing's the cheapest mobile phones and SIM cards"
  • "[It] slices the cake"
  • "It puts the lotion in the basket"
  • and so on
The tenses in Mandarin are pretty basic. You add one extra character here and there, but it's way simple once you spend the required five minutes to learn it. It's nowhere near as difficult as in Slavic languages, for example, where you've got tenses, genders, and nominative/genitive/dative/accusative/instrumental/locative/vocative noun cases to remember.

I'm not impressed with Westerners that learn Chinese as a second language. On the other hand, show me someone that's learned perfect grammar in Polish or Czech as a second language, and I'll happily buy them a few beers, I'm so impressed.

Those Chinglish translations I've listed are puzzling to me because it seems they're going out of their way to use present tense, when you don't really need a complete sentence with tense at all.


Post a Comment

<< Home