Bringing the Text to Life
The 2008 Olympic Games in Beijing brought the world to China’s door. Amid all the culture on display, one Chinese oddity was minimized a bit.
The Chinese government issued a 170-page booklet that gave English names and descriptions to Chinese meals. There wasn’t anything about the food itself that needed hiding. It was the meals’ literal English translations that were a bit strange.
The spicy delight Mapo Tofu was previously named by its literal translation, “bean curd made by a pock-marked woman.”
While the adventurous diner sampled beef and ox tripe in chili sauce, few if any would have opted for its namesake, “husband and wife’s lung slice.”
An American ex-pat in Japan started a humorous Web site documenting public postings of English mishaps. Whether typos or just literal translations that don’t work, the results make for confusing and comedic English.
A fire extinguisher sits below a sign that reads “hand...