Wednesday, December 28, 2011

Random English Translations

Advert for Chocolate Cake
T-shirts with English slogans and signs in English can provide amusement and wonder to native English speakers in Japan. There is an internet business opportunity for someone to provide translations of translations. For ten cents a word you could translate the translation- cheap enough that they would run everything by you. Here are the bloopers I have encountered at the resort:

* (On a water glass) "Washed Up: This cup has been washed. Be relived, and use it."

* (Over a changing crib) "Baby Bet: Please use it freely. Information: Load restrictions 10 kg; In use, please do not separate eyes than child; Please cooperate."

* (Sign by an escalator) "Please change shoes for surippa to black shoes box in entrance"

* (Sign at a shoe rack) "Attention: Please be careful not to misunderstand shoes"

* (Sign advertising Chocolate Cake) "A delicious cake was made. Please enjoy a soft sense."
Note on water glass: Washed up

My children noted that there is no fourth floor in the hotel. I noted there is not a thirteenth floor. I tried to explain the idea of bad luck without creating too much panic as scary thoughts have a way of finding the Moose when attempting to sleep in a new setting. Last night was an hour long version of, "I can't sleep, I have a scary feeling." Translation: I'm so exhausted, I can't sleep.
no 4th or 13th floor
Tonight's dinner conversation centered on the sinking of the Titanic and kanji. Sometimes I wonder if this is normal stuff for families with six year olds, but then my ideas for normal can be a tad off. The Moose is the Moose and conversation topics are reflective of what is of interest to him. You can't really get him off topic, he's like a homing pigeon in that sense.

Before his ski lesson, his dad suggested that he not bring up James Bond or the Pink Panther to the Japanese ski instructors by using a Clouseau line, "Now is not the time." Thankfully his dad understands him better than I do.

There are a few staff at the resort who we've recognized from previous visits. Our kids stand out partly because of their native Japanese language ability in contrast to their gaijin looks. The Moose's ski sensei today was a newbie in that he couldn't help but marvel at the Moose's ability to speak Japanese. However, the sensei doesn't know the Moose well. He wanted the Moose to tell him how to say something in English, but the Moose wouldn't help him out- no circus tricks.

If my Japanese was better, I would have cued the sensei, who was genuinely charmed by the Moose, in the fine art of movie quotes and historical details as the way to the Moose's heart.

Perhaps we all need a little translation to better understand each other. For ten cents a word, I could translate the Moose and tell you what he really means, but it probably wouldn't make any sense either.

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