The Museum of Hoaxes
hoax archive hoax archive hoax archive hoax archive hoax archive
 
Better translator needed
Respected academic journal wants to decorate its cover with elegant classical Chinese poetry. Journal editors -- who can't read Chinese -- don't realize they're actually placing an ad for a brothel on the cover. Embarrassment and retraction of cover follows.

The journal was the MaxPlanckForschung journal. The text apparently advertised "burlesque acts by pretty-as-jade housewives with hot bodies for the daytime visitor"... emphasizing their "enchanting and coquettish performance". The editors insist they did have a Chinese speaker check the text before they used it, but whomever they used either didn't speak Chinese that well or had a mischievous sense of humor.

Well, at least they didn't tattoo the text on their biceps.
Categories: Literature/Language
Posted by The Curator on Wed Dec 10, 2008
I wonder if consulting a Chinese speaker about it meant asking the guy if they had it right side up.
Posted by JoeDaJuggler  in  St. Louis, MO  on  Wed Dec 10, 2008  at  09:20 PM
okay, this is just too hilarious!
Posted by hulitoons  in  Abingdon, Maryland  on  Wed Dec 10, 2008  at  09:26 PM
Heh they hired someone that went and used Altavista translator or something probably lol. I used to use Altavistas bubblefish translator to translate stuff into japanese, then japanese to chinese, then chinese to german, then to spanish, then back to english to see how strange it would end up lol. Would end up talking about "the hairy skid running across the street to dance on the mighty pillow" or something strange like that lol.
Posted by Tim  on  Thu Dec 11, 2008  at  12:41 AM
Heheheh....and us always making fun of "Chinglish..."
Posted by LaMa  in  Europe  on  Thu Dec 11, 2008  at  05:14 AM
According to the website below (which also provides a rough translation into English) the editors did consult a sinologist. The sinologist "concluded that the text in question depicted classical Chinese characters in a non-controversial context". Oops.

http://languagelog.ldc.upenn.edu/nll/?p=881
Posted by GTSimo  on  Thu Dec 11, 2008  at  09:30 AM
A non-controversial context? Well, I suppose that there would be no controversy amongst people who could read Chinese as to what the context was. . .
Posted by Accipiter  on  Thu Dec 11, 2008  at  02:34 PM
Hilarious?
God bless you
Posted by Black Pearl  in  Mainland of China  on  Fri Dec 12, 2008  at  03:53 AM
My Japanese teacher told me that she saw a man in Sheffield wearing a t-shirt with Japanese characters on, which, translated into English, read: "I'm a stupid Tokyo man."
Posted by Pixie  in  Germany  on  Mon Dec 29, 2008  at  02:46 PM
It's a really interesting and puzzling case, especially since there are two clues one isn't dealing with classical texts: 1) the writing style is obviously not calligraphy, and 2) the two "K"s included in the personal names of (presumably) the hostesses.

Without the Internet this would probably never have turned into a controversy. Absolutely an area where digital communities of Chinese students and learners are sort of showing up more traditional ways of handling things in academia.
Posted by Popup Chinese  in  Beijing  on  Fri Jun 26, 2009  at  09:37 PM
Commenting is not available in this channel entry.
All text Copyright © 2014 by Alex Boese, except where otherwise indicated. All rights reserved.