Chinese translation & Babelfish..

At this company, they advocate the use of MSN Messenger for internal communication amongst employees.. so yesterday, while I was taking a break.. I decided to try out Babelfish and send people instant messages in Chinese.. I guess Babelfish isn’t very accurate.. because apparently, some of the things I translated came out weird.. here are a couple..

English: “you smell like feet”
Background: in Chinese, “like” sounds like “elephant”..
Babelfish: “you smell like elephant feet”

English: “you are full of feces” (I originally typed ‘shit’, but Babelfish would not translate it)
Babelfish: “you are enriched with feces”
This one caused my co-worker to laugh so hard, that she stopped breathing for a while and it was freaking me out..

Speaking of translation.. while we were waiting for our van to arrive to shuttle us home.. one of the night security guards was in the lobby.. another ABC (American Born Chinese) co-worker walked up.. I told this guard that she is also ABC.. so he decided to take this opportunity to practice his English.. the following are some excerpts from their dialogue..

ABC: “What time do you work until?”
Guard: “I started after Chinese New Year..”
ABC: “What???”
Guard: “CHINESE..”
ABC: “Chinese????”
At this point, I was about to start crying from holding back the laughter, so I had to step in..
Aric: “He said he started working HERE right after Chinese New Year..”
ABC: [still confused] “Oh, ok..”

ABC: “Where did you learn your English?”
Guard: “My name is Roger”
ABC: “Roger???” (she has an untrained ear for English Taiwan style)
Guard: “Yes, my name is Roger”
ABC: “What????”
Sensing a communication barrier, I again had to step in..
Aric: “He said his name is ROGER..”
ABC: “OH! Roger, your name is Roger?”
Guard: [smiling as if he finally got his message across]”Yes! my name is Roger!”

That was pretty funny.. but its cool he tries to speak English.. most people ’round here don’t even try.. maybe its because they’re afraid if they do try, someone will write about it on the internet, publish it for all to read, and then laugh about it.. you think? nah.. I doubt it too..

One thought on “Chinese translation & Babelfish..

  1. Funny stuff, nothing sparks comedy more than misunderstanding.

    I tried that Babelfish thing from Spanish to English. Here’s what I got:

    yo quiero taco bell

    translates into English as

    I want I mark Bell


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