Tuesday, November 29, 2005

Associated Press: Lost in Translation


Stephanie Hoo of Associated Press has written a piece about Hanzi Smatter called "Lost in Translation, Are you SURE that Chinese tattoo means what you think it means?".


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  1. That's a very nice write-up (by the A.P. no less)!

    On a side note, I propose a three-year moratorium on the phrase "Lost in Translation" when describing anything and everything from Asia. It's become a crutch!

  2. Ha! What a great article!

    I am an 8-year veteran of weekly Chinese language lessons with a private tutor. Although I think that for a non-native speaker I am reasonably fluent in Putonghua, I continue to take these lessons because of the depth and complexity of Mandarin. From time to time my teacher gives me a poem to translate from Chinese to English, and judging from her often nearly hysterical laughter, I'm guessing that further instruction is necessary. (-_-)

    Your site is hilariously funny AND demonstrates that Chinese language must be approached with great care, especially when being forever inked upon one's body.

    Keep up the great work!

  3. nice! good to see press.

    I was browsing the archive, and came across a post talking about someone who wanted "pallbearer" or "coffin handler" on their leg. (here)

    I looked it up on my IME pad and found two possibilities.

    橄 (Japanese reading=Kan, meaning is olive (?))
    檝 (Japanese reading = Kaji/Shuu、meaning unknown)

    Just wanted to point that out.


  4. Thank you!!

    I found your site from the Zhongwen link; and it is hysterically funny. And yes, those poor people who don't double and triple check on what they permanently decorate their bodies with - "oops!"

    I have bookmarked your site and plan on continuing visiting, especially as I have been learning Mandarin and Cantonese, and I have always enjoyed calligraphy.

    And, though it seems obvious, I am continuously reminded that there is always more to learn about how to construct a character, especially once one begins to develop a style of one's own. It's like ASL - with sign language, one must always be careful, even precise, in doing the movements to make a sign, lest "Good Morning!" turn into "Good F-@$ You!"

    Your site would be an excellent reference for those who think they can just blow off good advice, too.