Sunday, October 19, 2008

Nov 2008 Wired - Lost, in Translation

In November 2008 issue of Wired magazine, there is an interesting article about underground (or should that be "under-net") volunteers that would add subtitles to popular American television shows for those who do not understand English.

The concept is interesting however the illustration accompanying the story is not so.

While both English and Arabic alphabets are up-right and correct, the four Chinese characters are upside-down.

means "serious laughter" in Chinese.

This is second time I have spotted Wired magazine making similar snafu.


  1. how about the translation?
    is that what OMFG really mean?

    i would've thought - ok, maybe a little traditional - it'd be 我的天啊

  2. Agreed, 我的天啊 would be much better translation.

  3. I'd say 啥米碗糕 (sia mi wa ko, in hokkien/taiwanese) is a more appropriate (and coarser) translation.

    It literally means "what is this cum?", 碗糕 being a thick liquid that is most commonly interpreted that way.

  4. The Arabic reads "Loool!" which isn't really the same as "OMFG!" either

  5. The arabic is a direct transliteration, with extra letters. The first character (from the right) is a "lam" and an "wow" combined together. Then there are two "wows" followed by a "lam", this time alone. In other words: (now left to right) "LO O O L !"
    The actual translation should be something like "W'allahi!" (Oh my God!), at least in Egyptian Arabic.

  6. So, did you email them again telling them about yet another mistake concerning Chinese?

    It would serve them right.


  7. okay, but does "serious laughter" mean anything Chinese (idomatically speaking)? or it just a pair of words strung together that would mean nothing to a Chinese person upon viewing?

    p.s. really enjoying your website, which i found today! :D