Better translator needed

Respected academic journal wants to decorate its cover with elegant classical Chinese poetry. Journal editors -- who can't read Chinese -- don't realize they're actually placing an ad for a brothel on the cover. Embarrassment and retraction of cover follows.

The journal was the MaxPlanckForschung journal. The text apparently advertised "burlesque acts by pretty-as-jade housewives with hot bodies for the daytime visitor"... emphasizing their "enchanting and coquettish performance". The editors insist they did have a Chinese speaker check the text before they used it, but whomever they used either didn't speak Chinese that well or had a mischievous sense of humor.

Well, at least they didn't tattoo the text on their biceps.


Posted on Wed Dec 10, 2008


I wonder if consulting a Chinese speaker about it meant asking the guy if they had it right side up.
Posted by JoeDaJuggler  on  Wed Dec 10, 2008  at  07:20 PM
okay, this is just too hilarious!
Posted by hulitoons  on  Wed Dec 10, 2008  at  07:26 PM
Heh they hired someone that went and used Altavista translator or something probably lol. I used to use Altavistas bubblefish translator to translate stuff into japanese, then japanese to chinese, then chinese to german, then to spanish, then back to english to see how strange it would end up lol. Would end up talking about "the hairy skid running across the street to dance on the mighty pillow" or something strange like that lol.
Posted by Tim  on  Wed Dec 10, 2008  at  10:41 PM
Heheheh....and us always making fun of "Chinglish..."
Posted by LaMa  on  Thu Dec 11, 2008  at  03:14 AM
According to the website below (which also provides a rough translation into English) the editors did consult a sinologist. The sinologist "concluded that the text in question depicted classical Chinese characters in a non-controversial context". Oops.
Posted by GTSimo  on  Thu Dec 11, 2008  at  07:30 AM
A non-controversial context? Well, I suppose that there would be no controversy amongst people who could read Chinese as to what the context was. . .
Posted by Accipiter  on  Thu Dec 11, 2008  at  12:34 PM
God bless you
Posted by Black Pearl  on  Fri Dec 12, 2008  at  01:53 AM
My Japanese teacher told me that she saw a man in Sheffield wearing a t-shirt with Japanese characters on, which, translated into English, read: "I'm a stupid Tokyo man."
Posted by Pixie  on  Mon Dec 29, 2008  at  12:46 PM
It's a really interesting and puzzling case, especially since there are two clues one isn't dealing with classical texts: 1) the writing style is obviously not calligraphy, and 2) the two "K"s included in the personal names of (presumably) the hostesses.

Without the Internet this would probably never have turned into a controversy. Absolutely an area where digital communities of Chinese students and learners are sort of showing up more traditional ways of handling things in academia.
Posted by Popup Chinese  on  Fri Jun 26, 2009  at  07:37 PM
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