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lost in translation
a bit of chinglish

[Patrick's filling in on this post because he is way funnier than I am.  Funny looking, I mean.  Ha ha.]

Straight from Wikipedia, "the term 'Chinglish' is commonly applied to ungrammatical or nonsensical English in Chinese contexts."  Through some basic instinct of humankind, we try to make some sense of these nonsensical phrases.  That's the fun part, right?

Nausea sauce pork Chinese menu

Nausea sauce pork Chinese menu

By far the most ridiculous of the lot is "Nausea Sauce Pork".  To my knowledge, no non-Mandarin speaking foreigner has ever had the guts to try this.  I am not sure if it is for fear that said foreigner would empty their guts soon afterwards or the if chef of this incredible culinary delight uses such spillings as the primary ingredient.  We may never know just how good Nausea Sauce Pork is or what the author of the menu was actually trying to say.

Obama. You don't bird me.  I don't bird you.

 Obama. You don't bird me.  I don't bird you.

At the risk of starting a political brawl on our blog (like a photo of the Obamao t-shirt surely would) , we had to include this one because we do not understand the caption: "You don't bird me.  I don't bird you."  Perhaps we have simply been away from the United States political arena for too long and this makes complete sense to every other American tourist in China.  Is this some vague reference to the instance where Obama was accused of flicking off Republicans during a speech?  If so, I still ask myself "huh?"  I think the best approach might be for us to somberly reflect on these political words of wisdom and attempt to apply them when voting next term.

Knave strucks to float

Knave strucks to float

Nothing gives me a headache more quickly than contemplating the meaning of this shirt.  Even Google nearly had an aneurysm when I searched for "Knave strucks to float."  I found ten virtually unrelated hits, and after losing myself for fifteen whole seconds on the first hit, titled "Stop Motion Verbosity", I remain equally confused.  Perhaps reading further down the shirt will give us a clue: "of the most powerful creations of Greek the mathematical astronomy created by..."  The ungrammaticalness of the sentence has me reeling and making up words like "ungrammaticalness".  I better stop before the rest of this post becomes gibberish and has me frothing at the mouth.

Paragraph meat big slide

Paraphraph meat big slide

Let's analyze this one systematically and start from the end since starting from the beginning did not seem to help any of the earlier chinglish translations.  Slide: maybe it will slide down, like escargot.  Big: that's almost always good when applied to cuisine.  But a "big slide".  I'm not so sure about that one, so let's keep reading.  Meat: usually good, though not when it is as mysterious as the meat featured in this photo.  Is that chicken?  I bet it tastes like chicken.  Paragraph: from the Greek paragraphos, "written beside".  I got it: the meat is beside itself to take a big slide down my throat.  Maybe I should have ordered this one after all.

the many ways to have one kwai in your pocket

The many ways to have one kwai in your pocket

Money in China is nothing less than confusing.  Here, we have five different pieces of money that all represent the same value: 1 RMB.  Douglas Adams teaches us that "numbers written on restaurant bills within the confines of restaurants do not follow the same mathematical laws as numbers written on any other pieces of paper in any other parts of the Universe."  I posit that numbers written on Chinese currency also have this same property, especially when barganing.

 no spitting

No spitting

This sign confused us less in meaning and more in why it even existed.  I don't mean in the existential sense (though I do sometimes wonder where Chinese signs are made), but more along the lines of why something as common sense as not spitting needs to be advertised.  The answer to this mystery is because the Shanghai government, host of the 2010 World Expo, specifically asked the Chinese populace to stop spitting while all of the nice tourists are around. 

If it is indeed an existential question you are looking for, ask yourself why BlockMan's spit seems to get smaller the closer to the ground it reaches.  Could the Chinese have harnessed the power of the black hole, mass produced 1.3 billion of them, and coached them to follow around the populace?  Or, perhaps the Chinese government is simply telling everyone that if you must spit, please spit in the nearest black hole.

Granpa's pa big face sato

Granpa's pa big face sato

What does grandpa have against sato that he insults her by saying she has a big face and then serves her up on a platter?  The second "pa" after "grandpa" must be a typo, unless the restaurant would have us believe we are eating face from four generations ago.  That is just ridiculous.

no fets allowed

No fets allowed [this was taken somewhere in Korea actually]

Akila and I were widly disappointed that for the next 1000 meters, there were no fets allowed whatsoever.  Just when we thought we could bring our field-effect transistors anywhere we wished, we found a country backwards enough to ban them, though only in certain areas.  I mean, how were we going to control the shape and hence the conductivity of our charge carriers for the next kilometer? 

bar sign

With no options available, we were forced to turn back, where we stopped at the bar round and met the two royal drunkards you see at the top right-hand corner of the last sign.

If your head hurts as bad as mine and you feel stupider after reading this post, then I think my job here is done.

Out of Office Auto Reply:  We are currently flying in a tiny plane somewhere over Botswana to get a scenic view of the countryside while Akila hopes that her breakfast doesn't wind up on the giraffes grazing below her.  We will not be able to respond or monitor comments for the next week because, unsurprisingly, the giraffes don't use Internet much.  Please play nicely!

10/12/2010 18:04
I am laughing so hard right now, OMG, too funny!!! I have a lot of similar pics that I took while in China that I have yet to decipher. :)
10/16/2010 01:15
I think I nearly died laughing at things like this in Japan. I love pictures like these!
10/26/2010 08:15
Hilarious. Still trying to figure out the "You don't bird me. I don't bird you." message on the Obama shirt. Brings back such good memories from our time traveling through China.
10/31/2010 09:05
Haha funny, I love that first one "nausea sauce pork", hilarious!
11/05/2010 14:13
Thanks guys! Audrey, yeah, we have absolutely no idea what that means but we saw it on several different t-shirts. I want someone to explain it to me so badly.
Akila's recent blog post: edamame and pea dumplings
01/02/2011 20:09
eng boon
Hello was trawling through the net when I saw your website =)"You don't bird me. I don't bird you" means "you don't screw me I don't screw you". Basically in more polite tongue "you don't interfere with me I won't interfere with you." Hope that clears up the confusion!
01/02/2011 21:11
Eng Boon, Thank you so much for letting us know. We've been trying to figure out what it means for so long. I'm still not sure what it has to do with Obamao, but at least you've helped us figure out one part of it!
Akila's recent blog post: our santa
05/12/2013 14:49
Sara
The "paragraph big meat slide" is sweet and sour pork, Táng cù lǐjí, or 糖醋里脊, and it's actually delicious! If you get a chance to eat it, you should.

And as for the money, the larger bill (1 yuan) is 1rmb, but the smaller bill and coin that says yi jiao is worth 1/10 of an rmb. I can't tell what the other two coins are. So 1 yuan = 1 kuai = 1 RMB = 1 元?¥ and 1 jiao = 1/10 of 1 yuan. The 5 jiao (wu jiao) bills are worth half a yuan, the the coins that are the same value are gold. Took me a bit to figure it out, but basically the smaller the bill the less it's worth.
05/15/2013 13:38
Thanks Sara! That's great information. :)
08/17/2013 11:00
Love these - "paragraph meat big slide" is an excellent find! Ive actually a ton of hilarious photos from my backpacking adventures in China which I have never known what to do with them. At some point I'll put them together like this in a post. The most recent one I saw that cracked me up was a shop called Shash1te but theres a load of other classics. Will let you know if I ever do the post!! Safe travels. Jonny

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