Here is a list of Photography Vocabulary (11/5/07) in Chinese / Pinyin / English that I’ve been working on.
Erica and I have done quite a bit of traveling over the past several years and while we always appreciate people’s attempts to put signage in English, sometimes we are left to guess the true meaning a sign is trying to convey.
When a non-native English speaker translates something from their native language into English, there is an ever-present danger of getting it exactly right but oh so wrong!
Here are a few examples gleaned for your enjoyment;
Japanese hotel room – You are invited to take advantage of the chambermaid
Paris hotel elevator – Please leave your values at the front desk
Tokyo hotel – It is forbidden to steal hotel towels please. If you are not a person to do such a thing is please not read this notice
Bucharest hotel – The list is being fixed for the next day. During this time you will be unbearable
Leipzig elevator – Do not enter the lift backwards, and only when lit up
Athens hotel – Visitors are expected to complain at the office between the hours of 9 and 11am daily
Belgrade elevator – 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 then going alphabetically in national order.
Sarajevo hotel – The flattening of underwear with pleasure is the job of the chambermaid
Moscow hotel – You are welcome to visit the cemetery where famous Russian and Soviet composers, artists and writers are buried daily except Thursday
Swiss menu – Our wines leave you nothing to hope for
Hong Kong tailors shop – Ladies may have a fit upstairs
Bangkok dry cleaners – Drop your trousers here for best results
Paris dress shop – Dresses for street walking
Rhodes tailor shop – Order your summer suit. Because is big rush we will execute customers in strict rotation
Hong Kong advert – Teeth extracted by the latest methodists
Rome laundary – Ladies, leave your clothes here and spend the afternoon having a good time
Swiss mountain inn – Special today… no ice cream
Copenhagen airline – We take your bags and send them in all directions
Moscow hotel – If this is your first visit to the USSR, you are welcome to it
Norwegian lounge – Ladies are requested not to have children in the bar
Tokyo shop – Our nylons cost more than common but they are better for the long run
Acapulco hotel – The manager has personally passed all the water served here
Do you have any funny signs / sayings that you’ve spotted on your travels?
This morning the girls watched the new Nickelodeon animated series for preschoolers “Ni Hao, Kai-lan!“ The show’s stated goals are to have the interactivity of “Blue’s Clues” and the bilingualism of “Dora the Explorer.” They also want to emphasize the “Chinese value of being a good member of a group” and encouraged children to “take the perspective of others to maintain harmony in relationships with other people.”
Karen Chau is the creator of “Ni Hao, Kai-lan!,” and has based it on her memories of growing up in a bicultural household with two overachieving brothers, a doting immigrant grandfather and a father with one foot in the Old World and one in the New. Ms. Chau and her mother, Hai-lan (Helen), were outnumbered but unbowed, honoring some gender traditions that dated to Confucian times while questioning others. “Ni hao” means “Hi” in mandarin, and Kai-lan is the Chinese name Ms. Chau was given at birth, later Anglicized to Karen.
It was nice to have a language other than Spanish being taught through a main-stream cartoon. However, there wasn’t that much Mandarin being taught in the episode that I watched. We’ll have to see how future episodes go.
Another interesting thing from the show’s website was that typically, television portrays “excitement” as the good emotion to feel. In many Chinese communities, the good thing to feel is often “calmness and contentment.” “Feeling excited and feeling calm can both be happy feelings, but they differ in how aroused the body is.” I will say, there was significantly less shouting in this show than in Dora and Diego. It was nice.
Hopefully the series will be available on iTunes, otherwise Elizabeth and Anna (and eventually Nate) will have to say “Zai Jian, Kai-lan!” after we return to China.
Anyway, I came across a story about a couple here in China who recently had a baby and they decided to take the path less traveled and to name their kid “@”. Yes, you read that right, they’ve named their precious little baby with the same symbol that is in every Email address all over the world. Man, I’d hate to get that kid’s SPAM!
BEIJING (Reuters) – A Chinese couple tried to name their baby “@,” claiming the character used in e-mail addresses echoed their love for the child, an official trying to whip the national language into line said Thursday.
The unusual name stands out especially in Chinese, which has no alphabet and instead uses tens of thousands of multi-stroke characters to represent words.
“The whole world uses it to write e-mail, and translated into Chinese it means ‘love him’,” the father explained, according to the deputy chief of the State Language Commission Li Yuming.
While “@” is familiar to Chinese e-mail users, they often use the English word “at” to sound it out — which with a drawn out “T” sounds something like “ai ta,” or “love him,” to Mandarin speakers.
Li told a news conference on the state of the language that the name was an extreme example of people’s increasingly adventurous approach to Chinese, as commercialization and the Internet break down conventions.
Considering 90% of the country’s 1.3 billion people share just 129 surnames, it’s no surprise that this is happening. It sorta reminds me of some of the names American actors burden their innocent children with (ie. Apple, Phinnaeus, “Rumer Glenn”, “Scout LaRue”, “Tallulah Belle”, “Sage Moonblood”, “Sistine Rose”, Puma, Jett, Sailor, and “Heavenly Hiraani Tiger Lily” just to name a few.) all in the effort to be different.
Well, different strokes for different folks! I’m pretty sure Erica will NOT sign off on naming our little one “@” – I wonder if she’ll go for “Starbuck”? That’s kinda a cool name for a little guy!?
What do you think?
We are back home from Hong Kong, my favorite city. We had a great time, but were VERY busy the whole time we were there – time sure did fly by!
Speaking of time flying by, we are headed back to America for several months very soon. All of a sudden, the time we have left here in Asia before going back to America seems very, very short! I’ve got alot of things to get done! BTW, Erica and I had our language tested to see if we had reached a “level 3″ on a 5 level scale. This has been our goal for language study for the past few years. Eventually we’d like to get to a level 4, level 5 is for native speakers, and with the strong dialect(s) where we live, I’m not even convinced very many of the locals here would test at a level 5! So our next goal is level 4…