Saturday, 15 May 2010

飞龙 and the frying dragon lock

Why is it SO amusing when we read a translation from Chinese that involves the letter 'R' instead of 'L'?

I bought a lock recently, and I'll freely admit I purchased it only because the name on the box made me feel happy.Frying dragon. I had visions of a cute little children's story about a lonely dragon who succeeds in becoming Mr Popularity by frying up foods for the local villagers who haven't invented fire yet.

Or a dragon who doesn't like raw food and invents a method of heating up a giant pan so he can fry up a giant hamburger.


The possibilities are endless.

A search of the internet actually finds sites called Frying Dragon, but I hesitate to put links here as they seem to be unusual sites.

A Chinese colleague translated the paper insert in the box, and told me the fifth and sixth characters in the last line (飞龙) say flying dragon in English.

What a pity the company didn't check the work of their translator. On the other hand, their amusing mistranslation has resulted in one more sale. I don't need this lock. But I bought it.

The question of translating brand names between two such different languages and cultures presents its own problems - I read with great interest an article on this topic.


theregatha said...

Hi parlance, the article you refer to is very interesting in explaining how we can easily misinterpret what another may mean, without cultural understanding. I find this is often a major cause of mirth and potential concern in the tertiary education sector now that we have so many more international students.

parlance said...

theregatha, I know what you mean. It's so easy to laugh about these misunderstandings, and I think it's fun to do so, as long as we don't hurt the feelings of anyone involved.

Mary said...

Parlance, I really like the game on Spicks and Specks, the ABC music quiz show, that translates the words of a song into Japanese and then back to English, using an online translation site. The participants then have to work out what the song is. It is usually hilarious.

theregatha said...

Luckily the students find it funnier than me when we finally unpick what is trying to be said!

parlance said...

Mary, it sounds like a great game.