May 27, 2009

Lost in Translation - Japanese, Real Japanese

I am not sure if there is the same expression in English (I guess so) but in Spanish when something is very confusing or difficult to understand we say "It's like Japanese to me".

A friend of mine just sent me this picture that she took near a temple in Japan:

click to enlarge
Now, this English translation really looks like Japanese to me!"...see the thing with the chief does not have after finishing drink"? uh?

If you can understand the original sign in Japanese, please let us know what the translation was trying to say...

Thanks Odri for the picture!


The Nag said...

The English expression is "It's Greek to me."

Anonymous said...

We say in English "Sounds" or "Looks like Greek to me"

I guess that's because from an early age, all American schools teach Japanese as a second language because of its importance and our rigorous educational system preparing us to live in a global society.

San said...

Thaks to both for the lesson (and Anonymous for making me laugh out loud).

I just realized that in Spanish (or at least in Argentina) we use either Japanese or Chinese for that expression (as we also say "Sounds like Chinese to me".)

Paulo said...

To english speakers, it may sound greek, but how does it sound to greeks? The answer, chinese. And how does it sound to chinese people?

The answer, here:

Anonymous said...

In Argentina we also can say: "no entiendo ni jota", kind of "I don't get a jay) and the meaning would be very proximate to "Sounds like Greek to me". And what would a Chinese/Japanese express that?

Jarek said...

This is from my friend Tamiko, who is a native speaker of Japanese:

The context is probably for tourists who visit a historical building, a castle, in this case.

Don’t bring a drink into the castle. If you have one, please carry it in your bag.
(The Japanese says, “Don’t walk in the area drinking. As for a pet bottle, cap it and put it in your bag. For the drink with no lid, drink it up before you enter the building. Thank you very much for your cooperation.”)

I’ve been wondering why the translator used the word ‘chief’… The chief of the castle???
When too paternalistic language is directly translated, it brings lots of laughter.


gie said...

I can't see machines taking over the jobs of human translators in the near future, as they have done with so many other professions (remember telephone operators?)
These machine translators are ok when all u need is a quick understanding of a some rather simple text, but if you are running a business, or otherwise depend on accuracy of a translation, using professional translation services is the only way to go.