Tuesday, 25 August 2009

TRANSLATION RITES

One of the silly joys of foreign travel is spotting English mistranslations on signs and menus.

We've already come across a couple of Greek gems...



Oh, yes, and CHICKEN GORDON BLUE

Some time ago, I came to the conclusion that there could be quite a lucratively-paid job waiting for me in most European countries by spell-and-grammar-checking the English versions of pieces of text that, unfailingly, earn the guffaws of the tourist who, of course, can't speak a single word of the national language!

It's just possible that the natives do it on purpose: to amuse the visitors - even make former imperialists feel superior, while stinging them rotten for their "squids filled with themselfs" - but, if it is accidental, then for a very modest consideration, it would be possible to protect the dignity of shopkeepers, restaurateurs and hoteliers.

Then, for example, you would no longer find on a menu, as we recently did in Venice...

Fruit & wine jelly to play with... but only after tasting them individually!!!

On second thoughts, how boring it would be to know exactly what that really meant...

9 comments:

scb said...

But it says right there, klamp! How else would you translate it but letter by letter! *grin*

It will do alcoholics no end of good to know that they are spesial, and I really would like some jellies to play with, please (I promise to taste them individually...)

You could make a mint on spellchecking, but it would indeed put a damper on everyone's fun. (Besides the tourist trade, which would be a full-time job in itself, you could do freelance spell checks of DIY instructions.)

PROSSEDU: A mangled acronym for PROfessional Speller Says EDUcate!

Brian Sibley said...

I'm hopeful that one of our Greek-speaking friends will come to our aid with the true meaning of SANDWICH CLAMP - maybe it's what happens if you leave it on restricted area of your plate.

scb said...

Sadly, I no longer have my Greek-English lexicon. Sigh. However -- I've just had a scathingly brilliant idea...

By keying in the correct Greek letters in Word, i.e. κλάμπ and copying and pasting to a couple of versions of online Greek-English dictionaries, I came up with the translation of nightclub, or club... which leads me to think they could actually mean a club sandwich! Eureka! (which, being translated, literally means, "I have found it!")

I prefer your idea of a Sandwich Clamp, though.

Suzanne said...

The new man in my life happens to be Greek! He's just had a look at the Greek spelling and tells me it's just the word "klamp" spelt in Greek! So much for that!
Anyway, before insisting that people spell foreign languages correctly, perhaps we ought to make sure that people can write their own language properly! The amount of times I CRINGE at the sight of mis-spelt English & French words, mis-spelt by English or French speakers!
drater: the Greek word for spoonerism!

Anonymous said...

"Klamp" doesn't appear in any of my Greek dictionaries: I suspect it is a club sandwich transliterated to Greek and back to "Gringlish".
However I can think of an establishment or two where if you didn't pay up your sandwich might be clamped!
Roger O B...
DOUGGOGY: The study of the writer of The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy

Jen said...

no! No! wobbly jellies must be flung with large spoon seawise to confuse jellyfish.Pomegranate flavour perfect.They're dealing with pips rather than you!As anyone who's been stung would know.
Hope you're having a wonderful time.
AQUACKIE:unexpected duck encounter/
delightful underwater experience/
snacking whilst wave watching/shower between swims/fish meze

Eudora said...

Yes, I anderstan yu, is the problem with a lenguage that hav diferen sunds for each vowel or grup of vowels... Is beter the spanish, we have five vowels with five sunds, and the rest of the alfabet is similar,.... an that other problem with dobel cosonants: will, better, actually, ... oh, an the leters that have no soound: Why do you write: "since", why not: "syns"....... Mani trubles with the english ai ma fred......

;P....:).... (Sorry Mr. Shakespeare...)

Rena Fan said...

Being Greek, I can tell you they only refer to a club sandwich...

Enjoy your stay in Greece!

Brian Sibley said...

Thanks, everyone, but my point is... Why didn't someone who spoke English tell whoever wrote the translations for the sign that KLAMP sounds like the English word CLAMP and nothing at all like the word CLUB? Surely the whole point of a translation is that it is for the benefit of those who don't know the original language...

If you read Greek, you don't need the transliteration into English and if you don't read Greek then SANDWICH KLAMP is meaningless...