Two Perplexing Photos
24 Sep 2009
I was delighted to discover churros in Beijing, and with ice cream! (Sure, why not?) But the second English name threw me for a loop: “Kyrgyzstan Things Fruit.”
I don’t know why “churros” wasn’t enough, but apparently this is another casualty of horrible character-by-character machine translation. So we have a case of:
> Foreign word → Chinese transliteration → horrible machine translation to English
> churros → 吉事果 → “Kyrgyzstan Things Fruit”
Why go all the way to machine translation when you started with a foreign word in the first place? Did someone think that the machine translation of a transliteration might help out English speakers? Why is Kyrgyzstan the default translation for 吉?? There are no answers here… moving on.
I thought this was a rather clever bit of signage:
In context, and especially next to its “opposite” icon, there’s absolutely no question what the above icon stands for. Out of context, though, it can be a bit puzzling. I showed this to a few Chinese friends (out of context, of course), and they didn’t get it on their own.
(Hint: No, it has nothing to do with any characters in WALL-E.)