A friend who’s reading Steven Pinker’s defense of the European Enlightenment, Enlightenment Now, alerts me to the fact that I am name-checked on page 210:
Nice to encounter a fair and reasonable summary of your work in a best-selling book, especially one whose argument you find congenial.
If you’d like the longer version of this argument, you can buy, or borrow, or otherwise acquire my 2010 book, Ending the Death Penalty: The European Experience in Global Perspective. And if you’re wondering: Yep, it’s written for non-lawyers.
Interview by Aquarium Drunkard:
AD The band name, my friend was saying, means mathematical patterns.
Kikagaku Moyo: Geometric.
AD Geometric patterns. Which is funny, because you think of these bands that can play math rock and that’s not what y’all are doing at all.
Kikagaku Moyo: [Laughs] Yea. Cause we were playing jam all the time at night. That’s the only time we could play long hours because you have to pay so much money in day time. As I said, a friend was working in a studio so we could go only the night, from midnight to 7am. [Laughs] So we were super tired. Working and then going to the studio. Jam. We cannot do so much stuff…just playing one note. [Laughs] Then make it really dark. And then we start feeling sleepy but you know like when you see noise show, whoever plays music in the last seems like “I am most musician.” [Laugh] Whoever quit first and looked around is losing. You have to be the last one who is making noise. It was like that. So even when you were so tired, you still play. And I started seeing visuals. Cause it’s dark and you cannot see. So everyone is closing their eyes. And I’m seeing all the patterns in my eye. So I shared the experience and it was like “Okay let’s make Geometric Patterns the band’s name.”
A literal translation of the German phrase 'mouth-watering'. This is part of the thriving ULT (ultra-literal translation) subculture, whose patron saint is Heinrich "Equal Goes it Loose" Lübke:
The term Lübke English (or, in German, Lübke-Englisch) refers to nonsensicalEnglishcreated by literal word-by-word translation of German phrases, disregarding differences between the languages in syntax and meaning.
Lübke English is named after Heinrich Lübke, a president of Germany in the 1960s, whose limited English made him a target of German humorists. For example, it was alleged that Lübke said to Queen Elizabeth II when they were waiting for a horse race to start:
- Lübke's statement: "Equal goes it loose."
- The sentence Lübke had in mind: "Gleich geht es los."
- Meaning of the statement: "It'll start very soon."
In 2006, the German magazine konkret unveiled that most of the statements ascribed to Lübke have been coined inside the editorship of Der Spiegel, mainly by staff writer Ernst Goyke.
I once saw a woman wearing a T-shirt saying "With me is not good cherry-eating". I told her "Your T-shirt favors me."
Spotted recently in Datong China by a FB friend (h/t Florian B.):
Language learner mistakes:
My own contribution to this genre happened in 2004-ish, when I went to a camera store and told the guy behind the counter that I needed 'eine Speichelkarte'.*
* As the video shows, explaining the mistake is more droll than funny, but here goes: I wanted a memory card (Speicherkarte) but instead asked repeatedly for a 'saliva card' (Speichelkarte). The guy behind the counter, richly amused, asked me how many megabytes of saliva I needed to store.
I just got this Jandlesque solicitation in my junk mail inbox:
Schauen Sie, was ich gefunden
Weg, um binäre Optionen zu gewinnen
Yo, behold this pleasant 1846 painting by Moritz von Schwind:
I admired it in person at the Hamburger Kunsthalle last weekend. It seemed darker in person — I think the digital version may have been brightened a little. Nevertheless, a nice chunk of late Romanticism, dusted with kitsch. The modeling of the buck's solid, sagging flesh and horns is nicely plastic.
Here is the translation of the picture's title:
I chuckled over the translation of the German word tränken as "saturate". But then I became thoughtful, and stroked my chin. There's no easy translation for tränken. Tränken describes only how animals drink. Humans trinken, animals tränken. Same thing for eating: humans essen, while animals fressen. Add to that the fact that English has no simple transitive word for "give water to". You can "water" plants, but that always implies pouring water over or into something. You wouldn't water your dogs or your children, you would only give them something to drink.
The translators seemed to realize this, but then fatally chose "saturate" as the proper translation from the other entries on the dict.leo.org list. But how can we blame them? The meaning comes across, sort of, and the only other alternatives would have doubled the length of the title, which doesn't seem right.
The other titles were translated quite well.
I just got this beauty in my inbox, from one belen.belen from francetelecom.com:
How do you do
How to pay
I formed, kind. I have an optimistic, but I am alone.
Expensive hits at an affordable price
I Inna live in Yelabuga
Greetings from Peter
Come to my chat
Dreams all here
It inspired me to go to the archive for an episode of the late, lamented Spamasterpiece Theatre, entitled THE STOMATOLOGIST1:
1 Some variation of the word 'Stomatologxxx' is the word for dentist in lots of Eastern European languages, and thus 'Stomatologist' is the 'English' translation for dentist which you will find in cheap, outdated bilingual dictionaries.
The Chinese poem printed on the cover of the most recent newsletter from the Max Planck Institute (MaxPlanckForschung),
means, according to Victor Mair of Language Log:
With high salaries, we have cordially invited for an extended series of matinées
KK and Jiamei as directors, who will personally lead jade-like girls in the spring of youth,
Beauties from the north who have a distinguished air of elegance and allure,
Young housewives having figures that will turn you on;
Their enchanting and coquettish performance will begin within the next few days.
Mair comments drily:
Clearly this is an advertisement for some kind of burlesque business. I did find quite a few references on the Web to a "KK Juggy" from a group called "Machine Gun Fellatio," and apparently the KK in her name stands for "Knickers" and "Knockers." Perhaps KK in the sense of "Knickers and Knockers" is an Australian expression, since KK Juggy (Christa Hughes) is from Sydney.
In the interests of fairness, I should note that the MPI immediately issued a heartfelt apology and replaced the cover. [h/t JR]
One day, this blog will become a United Nations World Heritage Site of unconventional translations. I already have a section dedicated to this purpose. However, other outlets — like Welt Online, sometimes try to horn in on my territory. This slideshow (G) collects attempts at German and English from all over the world, sent in by German tourists. [h/t K.S.]
My favorite is this bathroom sign from Panama:
But perhaps the best source for translations is menus. Whenever I go to Other Foreign Countries, I immediately grab the menu out of my dinner companions’ hands and scan it. I’m often disappointed (especially in Northern Europe, where everybody’s English is much too good).
But not in India. Here are just two of the precious finds I unearhted there. First, from Hampi, India, "Momus Fried Steam":
And from Bangalore, ‘Alien Steak’:
I ordered the Alien Steak. It looked like this:
And it was pretty tasty. Yes, it was real beef.
A new Chinese restaurant in my ‘hood wants to tell us it’s opening soon, but, strictly speaking, it’s telling us "New Orifice!"
As a connoisseur of non-standard English, I encourage every non-native speaker to sign up for English classes with this person (seen in Duesseldorf in mid-April):
I note that the, err, German sub-heading of this poster, "Wiederhole deine Sprache", means "Repeat your Language."
Looks like English is not the only language whose mutilations our friend has experience with.