Thursday, August 11, 2005

Iron Fury



This bad ass screen-print t-shirt by Utility brand is sold in Target stores. From the English caption as well as the Bruce Lee look-alike in a fighting pose, one would easily assume the Chinese characters on the shirt would be in the realm of some sort of fierce combat.

Not so.

means cloth iron.

Extreme ironing indeed.


9 comments:

  1. I hate that kind font... :-/

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  2. Is this the first time someone screwed up a character based on the multiple meaning of an English word?

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  3. I forgot to mention the shirt was made in Guatamala.

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  4. David, I think it's unlikely that this is the first time something like this has happened, and it's doubtful that it would be the last.

    It's strange, though--I don't think any English to Chinese dictionary would list "燙斗" as the first translation for "iron," so they would have to ignore the other, more suitable translations to come to use this term for "iron."

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  5. mmm... i don't know the meaning of the first character but on babelfish, its coming up as "very hot" and when i search on the two words together, it comes up as "iron". How does the first character sound?

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  6. I'm not 100% on pinyin, but I think the pronunciation of the first word would be "tang4" in Mandarin or "tong3" in Cantonese. "Very hot" makes sense as a definition, but I've also seen it used in some cases to mean "burn"

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  7. I'm not sure I should give Target's designers this much credit, but it could be an intentional pun (given the cultural association between laundry and Chinese Americans and all).

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  8. David--I have a shirt upon which the design was likely made by someone with a typically poor American grasp of the English language/punctuation flipping through a Japanese dictionary; I believe the phrase they wanted (for whatever reason) would translate to "Nine Bodies" but, instead, they ended up with ku karada no (sorry, I don't speak Japanese, so I can't write that in anything but Romanji), which translates directly to "Nine Body's," meaning nothing in English, either, natch.

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  9. I'd love to buy that shirt and paint in a little iron in Bruce Lee's hand.

    And to be totally un-PC, I'd have to put a thought bubble over his head that says, "ancient Chinese secret!"

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