More Machine Translation Menu Fun

26 Mar 2011

OK, I know, it’s been done before, and it’s just so easy. There are many menus in China with bad (and often hilarious) English translations. But even after all these years, this one stood out to me because (1) it is otherwise an extremely high quality menu, and (2) the errors are of a somewhat bizarre nature, rather than centering on horribly inappropriate mistranslations of the character [more on that here and here].

Anyway, here are some samples (apologies for the quality!):

Roast pork bag

Where pathology and cuisine meet:

Carrots for the corn from what virus

Have make any bacteria

Halogen? (Another meaning of )

Spiced halogen three

A bunch of them have really weird endings (I think the machine translated names have been truncated):

Pomelo the smell of

Bouquet steamed fish when

It smell of cooking rice stuffed with

Member of the bamboo and

'd better meat with a te

This last one is my favorite, because it comes across almost poetic:

Taken meat dishes broken string beans

> taken meat
dishes broken
string beans

Indeed.

You can find more of the menu here.


Update:

In case you’re interested, the restaurant is called 炖品世家, or “Aristocratic Family of Soup.” (Oh yes, this is clearly a restaurant that has some fun with the English language!) The restaurant is in Shanghai, near the intersection of Kangding Road and Wanhangdu Road (康定路万航渡路). A photo:

Aristocratic Family of Soup

Also, a big thanks to Will, who introduced this resturant to me and provide the above photo and address.

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John Pasden

John is a Shanghai-based linguist and entrepreneur, founder of AllSet Learning.

Comments

  1. I’m curious what kind of restaurant is that .

  2. Matthew Stinson Says: March 27, 2011 at 12:12 am

    Google Translate FTW. 菌 always seems to come up as a disease of some kind. At a restaurant here in Tianjin it was translated as “streptococcus.”

  3. Strange that some were cut off. My favorite would have to be the one that begins with an apostrophe. (‘d better meat with a te) Gives it kind of a folksy flavor.

  4. Okay, I realize the example I’m about to give is not a translation, but I thought it was funny and almost on-topic.

    http://www.yelp.com/biz/an-tai-chinese-noodle-store-south-el-monte

    This is more along the lines of “not the best possible name for a store” (in U.S.A.). In case it’s not obvious, the part I found humorous is the closeness of an-tai to anti.

  5. I bank my whole life saving for any software that can translate those right. I mean, look at those Chinese dish names.

  6. Lil_Cheese Says: March 28, 2011 at 7:44 am

    I also find it strange that the “荷兰豆腊味” has nothing to do with pomelos (柚子) at all…

  7. Sigh. As much as one tries, over the years, to rise above it, sometimes the translations are so bad one can’t help but laugh. In one restaurant in Hangzhou I was tickled by “The wine smelt fcks” and “the garlic joss-stick fcks to fry the sauce meat” but by the time I got to “the old method vegetable bums the goose” I literally had tears rolling down my cheeks and a very sore ankle from where my wife was kicking me to stop the waitress glowering at us. Good times.

  8. It’s funny, I passed by this place on 万航渡路 last Sunday when I got here, couldn’t resist taking a picture. Don’t you think it’s actually intentional humor in this case, did you ask about the owner?

  9. This restaurant takes the cake for Chinglish (Chingrish) menu adaptations. But then again, I just saw a restaurant named “KING DONG” in Berkeley, CA.

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