After seeing this, I’ll think twice before publishing anything I’ve translated with Babelfish. I think the ultimate lesson here is that the language barrier can be hard to overcome, and technology isn’t much help.
(Originally found here.)
For years, native English speakers have gotten a good chuckle out of the (increasingly rare) old chopsticks wrapper with poorly translated instructions. I, of course, am one of them.
But nothing about the chopsticks wrapper prepared me for the shockingly incomprehensible copy on this XBOX 360 headset package.
Credit where it’s due: I don’t own an XBOX 360, and I didn’t find this headset. It was posted on one of my favorite websites for hotheaded computer geeks such as myself, The Daily WTF. (I was glad to see that someone had also posted the Dell plastic bag safety warning hieroglyphics. I brought home one of these bags from work and have been meaning to scan it and make t-shirts. I suppose those images are copyrighted, but I wouldn’t want to own up to having created them!)
Now, before we get started, I just want to say, China has a rich cultural heritage and is full of intelligent, creative people. China had gunpowder when Europeans were still hitting each other over the heads with sticks. China had paper when the Greeks were still drawing geometric shapes in the sand… with sticks. But long after Europeans started eating with forks and knives, the Chinese were… well, still using sticks.
But I’m not even here to make fun of chopsticks. I like eating Chinese and Japanese food with chopsticks. It makes the experience more authentic, and it is humbling to see how incompetent I am with these, while someone like Daniel LaRusso can catch a fly with them.
Anyway, as I said, I like to try my “nice Chinese food with chopsticks.” I think you see where I’m going with this.
For years, one of the delights of going to a Chinese restaurant has been that unmistakable red chopsticks pack with the incomprehensibly mangled English instructions. This perennial favorite is dying off, sadly. Most of the time now, you either get chopsticks wrapped in plastic, or in the updated, white-paper version of this, with (mostly) proper spelling and grammar.
So it was with much delight last December that I asked for a set of chopsticks at a Chinese restaurant in Stevens Point, Wisconsin, and received the classic red wrapper. I saved it, and here it is…
Now let’s have a look at the details:
I have no idea what the Chinese characters on the front of the package say, but if they are in fact a pictographic depiction of something, it appears that in the first frame, a man is gingerly approaching some kind of dragon/serpent creature. Next, he leans in for a kiss. The two get into a tussle (is the dragon giving him a spanking?), and in the end the dragon has donned a sombrero and is patting the guy on the bum as he walks away.
I like how this starts off. It seems to suggest that every Chinese restaurant is simply called “Chinese Restaurant.” And then the misspellings begin. “Glonous”? Well, it’s fairly obvious what’s happened here: Someone apparently gave the typesetter some handwritten text, and the typesetter, unfamiliar with the Roman alphabet, sometimes mistook letter combinations for other letters. Either that, or they were just relying on some early OCR software.
OK… now where did I leave my thurnb? And how do I tuk and hcld something under it?
This is the definitive step… these words are so deeply ingrained in my subconscious that I almost call these devices “chcosticks” when I ask for them in a restaurant.
Yes indeed, with the tirst and second chopsticks in place, now you can pick up anything… used Kleenex, condoms, Michael Jackson’s prosthetic nose… what is that, anyway?
By the way, the restaurant in Stevens Point is called Chef Chu’s. It’s attached to the Best Western Royale hotel, and I give it very high marks! I didn’t have much hope for quality at a Chinese restaurant in central Wisconsin, attached to a Best Western and newly opened in a former Country Kitchen-esque restaurant space, but the food was actually quite good… a very nice hot-and-sour soup, excellent potstickers, and a very tasty moo goo gai pan with big pieces of fresh vegetables and tender chicken.
Oh yeah, and vintage chopsticks!