Blog News

1. Comments are still disabled though I am thinking of enabling them again.

2. There are now several extra pages - Poetry Index, Travel, Education, Childish Things - accessible at the top of the page. They index entires before October 2013.

3. I will, in the next few weeks, be adding new pages with other indexes.

Thursday, 6 October 2011

China: Ornamental

I was told before I came to China that it would be impossible to buy official CDs and DVDs here and it proves to be the case. Even large department stores and nationwide chains, sell what are, when examined, pirate copies of DVDs and, because they are all that is available, people buy them. It is quite interesting though to look at the language used on the sleeves.
I know some people like to laugh at the language used, and some oddities can raise a smile, but I find it more interesting to wonder how these bizarre translations come about and, indeed, to wonder what was actually meant.

Sometimes the source of the confusion is clear. For example on the sleeve of a DVD of "Warehouse 13" we find this sentence.

"...there is a teapot, if you make a wish it, and then the friction of its outer wall, it will be randomly generated inside the same thing."

The phrase "an then the friction of its outer wall" is a noun-verb confusion joined to an idiomatic problem and when those things are corrected we get the obvious "and then rub the outside".

Some though baffle utterly. I have struggled in the same paragraph to derive the meaning of

"A football, you throw it out later, it will circle the Earth's rotation about itself a few days before returning to throwing hands (of course you have been a different matter it Zayun)."
Most of that is perfectly clear but what on Earth does the parenthetical addition mean?

Another, that almost certainly has a simple explanation for those who speak Chinese, occurs on the notes to the movie "Super". Most of the notes fall into the strange but comprehensible category. Some fall into the utterly baffling category. The one that I am sure has an explanation shows up whenever we get the common formula "character name (actor name)" in the notes, and the thing I don't understand is the addition, every single time, of the word "ornaments".
So we get
...his wife, Sarah (Liv Tyler ornaments)
...a man named Jaques (Kevin Bacon ornaments)
...a local comic shop mentally ill cute girl, LIbby (Allen Peggy ornaments)

My best guess is that it's meant to be something like "acted by" or "played by" but I can't see how to get from one to the other.

One final oddity is that the entire sleeve - including the copyright warning - has been directly copied from the US release except for this text which has clearly been translated into Chinese and then translated back. It makes me wonder why they didn't just copy the original for this as well.