Saturday, November 10, 2007

English As She Is Spoke...Badly

A few days ago, I linked to my Fun with the Babelfish post over at Althouse, where they were giving the professor some suggestions for vlog topics. (My post involved taking an entry from this blog, translating it into Portuguese using the Babelfish, and then putting the Portuguese passage back into the Babelfish and re-translating it into English, with hilarious results.)

Another commenter saw my post and alterted me to the existence of this book, English As She Is Spoke, which is widely considered to be one of the worst-translated phrase books ever, thanks in no small part to the authors using literal dictionary translations word-by-word, which messes up the idiomatic phrases a great deal. Here's an example:

ORIGINAL PORTUGUESE: Este lago parece-me bem piscoso. Vamos pescar para nos divertirmos.
BOOK TRANSLATION: That pond it seems me many multiplied of fishes. Let us amuse rather to the fishing.
IDIOMATIC TRANSLATION: This lake seems like it's full of fish. Let's have some fun fishing.

You get the idea. And there's a great quote from Mark Twain in the introduction to a later edition: "Nobody can add to the absurdity of this book, nobody can imitate it successfully, nobody can hope to produce its fellow; it is perfect."

Also, someone did a side-by-side comparison of translations using English As She Is Spoke and the Babelfish, which is also quite funny.

Enjoy this, and maybe I'll do another sequel to the Babelfish post on a "slow blog day" pretty soon (I did a second one about a year ago).

He's flush with pride over this: A South Korean man known as "Mr. Toilet" for his public restroom beautification campaign has built himself a toilet-shaped house.

Here's hoping these birds don't find the Toilet House: A night at the ballet in England was ruined for a theatre full of patrons when pigeons came through a hole in the roof and left some unwanted presents on top of them.

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