https://www.duolingo.com/profile/nbsnyder

Why to learn Chinese

If you're reading this, you're probably saying "Why should I learn Chinese? Insert untrue statement here". Well, here's why:


To everyone learning Chinese, I salute you. Together, we can stop these horrible translations. And yes, these are all real.

February 1, 2015

47 Comments


https://www.duolingo.com/profile/KateM303

When on the Great Wall when I was in China I took a picture of a sign that said "Speaking cellphone is strictly prohibited when thunderstorm." Which we took to mean, "when there's a thunderstorm, dont say the word cellphone." As I toured with a music group, we were amused when we saw the picture of a musical instrument that looked like a trumpet and it was crossed out. We knew it meant no loud noises, but we usually just told the trumpet players it meant they weren't allowed.

February 2, 2015

https://www.duolingo.com/profile/jairapetyan

Too funny, have a lingot. Leave those trumpet players on the bus.

February 4, 2015

https://www.duolingo.com/profile/ManOfGer

I like the way that "cat ear" is the thing worthy of being noted in the headline for that particular image, when right next to it is "rotten child". If I was forced at gunpoint to eat one or the other, I'd choose the ear because I know for a fact the other dish is off.

February 2, 2015

https://www.duolingo.com/profile/simpsongeorge

I like how it says /the plate. yes i would rather eat the plate.

February 2, 2015

https://www.duolingo.com/profile/mwyaren

do not disturb, tiny grass is dreaming is actually really cute. <3

February 1, 2015

https://www.duolingo.com/profile/Skoldpaddor

I saw that and remarked how elegant and imaginative it was. Accidental poetry, probably created by machine translation. Beauty rising from chaos.

February 3, 2015

https://www.duolingo.com/profile/mwyaren

I think this might be no accident, perhaps that's exactly what they wanted to say, and we notice this only because of cultural differences, i.e. the fact that Western signs tend to be more formal.

February 3, 2015

https://www.duolingo.com/profile/Skoldpaddor

I agree. Based on the other sign, the "I don't like that you put your shoes on my face", Chinese keep-off-the-grass signs anthropomorphize grass. I think "I don't like it when you put your shoes on my face" is a little more clever than "don't step on the grass." It might even be more effective. I suspect that is the case.

As for "civilization go to the toilet thanks to everyone", which was going for "please use the restroom, thanks" or somesuch, I think the sentiment is actually more meaningful. It is true. The modern restroom and sanitary practices as a whole, which save countless lives, are a result of the world as a whole. Each time we use a toilet, we're using a product of globalization and collective innovation.

Furthermore, the "beware of safety" sign also expresses an interesting idea. Safety is a boon, of course, but sometimes we take things to far. A totally safe life would be stagnant. We should appreciate safety but also appreciate our ability to take meaningful risks. The "slip and fall carefully" sign ties into this well. Falling is an accident, and we can't prevent it, but if we increase our awareness we can minimize the damage. I think of Amos Rendao and Parkour Ukemi.

Some of these signs might be perfectly valid, but we have no context. Maybe the park is frequented by some sort of hate group, or maybe the sign-maker was trying to make people recognize their own prejudices by calling them out. Perhaps "whatever" is an accurate description of the dish. It might be potpourri or what I like to call Huck-Finn-style stew (where you stick everything in and let the juices mix together). The "beware of missing foot" might not be referring to a missing step. Who are we to get in the way of their search for the poor person's missing foot? Maybe they can still sew it back on. And perhaps poisonous garbage requires a specific container. Who are we to criticize based solely on an image?

I overthink things.

February 3, 2015

https://www.duolingo.com/profile/mwyaren

^pat pat pat^ it's ok.

February 3, 2015

https://www.duolingo.com/profile/flootzavut

My favourite by far!

February 2, 2015

https://www.duolingo.com/profile/Kunstkritik

Oh man. I would really try Sixi roasted husband out :9

February 2, 2015

https://www.duolingo.com/profile/ShongZuo

It proves that they should start the course quicker :D

https://www.duolingo.com/comment/6457031

February 2, 2015

https://www.duolingo.com/profile/0FFF

How do translations like these even happen?

February 2, 2015

https://www.duolingo.com/profile/chilvence

People having too much faith in Google translate, that's how.

February 2, 2015

https://www.duolingo.com/profile/tmarvin

To be fair it's pretty incredible that technology can get people who presumably speak no English to "basically close enough" translations, even if they're ridiculous.

February 2, 2015

https://www.duolingo.com/profile/simpsongeorge

The stupidity is many of them are translated from english and then back into nonsense english instead of using the original.

February 2, 2015

https://www.duolingo.com/profile/Princess559078

FACEPALM! XD I don't think I can eat "Fries pulls out the rotten child" or whatever that is. (@.@). This reminded me of this! http://www.allkpop.com/buzz/2014/12/20-korean-engrish-signs-that-will-make-you-laugh-or-facepalm It's Korean Engrish tho. I could not stop myself from laughing when I first read this.

February 2, 2015

https://www.duolingo.com/profile/linguafiqari

I have a fair amount of photos on my phone of bad translations from when I went to China. For example, "Fried Noddles", "Do not butting randomly", and "Baconic".

February 2, 2015

https://www.duolingo.com/profile/Rafforza

Baconic is a great word, It deserves to do be added I think .

February 3, 2015

https://www.duolingo.com/profile/het_aapje

That was so funny, have a lingot :D

February 1, 2015

https://www.duolingo.com/profile/hellerm

This post was really funny! First laugh of the day! Happy learning! :P

Have some lingots!

February 2, 2015

https://www.duolingo.com/profile/Avensaeri

When you get to the "Civilization" one, things start to get rather deep and profound, haha. And of course, even the grass dreams. :)

Thanks for the laugh!

February 3, 2015

https://www.duolingo.com/profile/mare_sargasso

If you'd like some from Turkey...

February 4, 2015

https://www.duolingo.com/profile/flootzavut

I wonder what poor Alexander did to end up on the menu... :D

February 7, 2015

https://www.duolingo.com/profile/mare_sargasso

:D İskender that's Turkish for Alexander, is a popular restaurant dish made of döner, a Turkish beef delicacy that literally means "he/she/it (re)turns", yogurt, tomato sauce and melted butter poured over it. Very Alexander was intended to mean iskender with more meat (i.e. döner) than usual, Alexander Confused to mean mixed iskender having various meatballs over it, and Alexander Returns to mean iskender with döner that's a weird expression since the dish is already made of it. :)

February 7, 2015

https://www.duolingo.com/profile/flootzavut

I did not know that that was what döner meant! That is very cool, thank you :|

February 7, 2015

https://www.duolingo.com/profile/mare_sargasso

You're welcome!

February 7, 2015

https://www.duolingo.com/profile/marc.libra

I love going to whatever :D

February 2, 2015

https://www.duolingo.com/profile/ALoUSyUseRnaME

Haha, this made my day! :D Failed translations are the best!

February 2, 2015

https://www.duolingo.com/profile/D_O_M_O

Hm i wonder what this give lingot button does... *click click click click

February 6, 2015

https://www.duolingo.com/profile/GrandApple

Oh no! You just wasted 300 of your lingots there. Here, let me reimburse you for those lingots you just wasted.

February 7, 2015

https://www.duolingo.com/profile/Artilex

Wait... What does the "give lingot" button do. Let's click it 100 times! click...

February 8, 2015

https://www.duolingo.com/profile/WasDatWorthIt

Fadafingling IS HEWE

February 2, 2015

https://www.duolingo.com/profile/flootzavut

Literally crying with laughter. I mean, sadly, these are all way better than what would happen if I was trying to translate into Chinese, but still: TEARS.

February 2, 2015

https://www.duolingo.com/profile/Jayway223

Some of this kinda scared me, while most made me lol. :D

February 3, 2015

https://www.duolingo.com/profile/kevinwu00

I'm Chinese, so.......

June 30, 2015

[deactivated user]

    That's why you don't go around translating random things. These translations are stupid, but personally, I don't like people translating like that.

    July 1, 2015

    https://www.duolingo.com/profile/jeanneordarc

    I'm crying these are hilarious

    May 21, 2017

    https://www.duolingo.com/profile/_alionushka_

    Haha! Thanks, i've lived in China for 3 years, now i start to miss this unique country! :)

    September 14, 2018

    https://www.duolingo.com/profile/Waixkawaii

    Lmaooo make sure your feet stay on

    July 1, 2019

    https://www.duolingo.com/profile/psionpete

    Looks like a good reason why Mandarin will never be a world lingua franca.

    By the way, China is a massive and growing market for English language teachers.

    February 2, 2015

    https://www.duolingo.com/profile/chilvence

    What has that got do do with anything? How do you get from 'People who can't speak English make bad translations. lets have a chuckle' to mind numbingly infantile 'Haha., English is better than Chinese, everyone likes us more, nyaa!'

    Shame :P

    February 2, 2015

    https://www.duolingo.com/profile/psionpete

    You seem to make some massive leaps of fantasy from the simple statement I made. Just shows how it is not just silly translations that can cause outrageous misunderstandings.

    Of course, if you find my statement mind numingly infantile, it is more a reflection of the reader than the writer.

    February 2, 2015

    https://www.duolingo.com/profile/chilvence

    I just read between the lines. Doesn't matter how you dress it up, the entire content of your original statement only boils down to 'Chinese baaad, English Goood'. Yawn! This isn't the place! This is a language site, I guarantee you there are a million people reading this who are chomping at the bit in anticipation of a Chinese course.

    You can call it fantasy if you want, insult me in a mealy mouthed way, I don't care. I am just stating my displeasure at people who take every convenient opportunity to point out that Chinese isn't an international language while English is, when you are really just betraying your insecurity that it might one day be the other way around. I ask again, what has your condescending opinion of Chinese got to do with anything?

    Who said Mandarin was trying to be a lingua franca in the first place? Who said it can't be? Who says that it isn't already, within it's own sphere, given that there are dozens of dialects of Chinese? Who said there was a competition between English and Chinese anyway? And yet since that is about all you bothered to imply, I can only assume that is all you have to say about it. What's wrong with a bit of casual self satisfaction about how superior we are, after all. Oh look, everyone in China is learning English! Doesn't it soothe the indignation we feel about how poorly the Chinese know our language, when we only pause to mock theirs at any given moment.

    Sorry, but when you only bring a topic up just to badmouth it, you deserve everything you get. Good day sir.

    February 3, 2015

    https://www.duolingo.com/profile/psionpete

    As I said, a massive leap of fantasy.

    February 3, 2015

    https://www.duolingo.com/profile/chilvence

    Go to bed.

    February 3, 2015
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