Fukuyama City, Hiroshima. Business consulting. Translation. Interpreting. Printing. DTP.
Cross-border ramblings

Cheap translations

Beef knitting combustion?

How does a simple plate of grilled beef and hamburger get so complicated as to end up as Beef knitting combustion and hamburg steak? The grilled beef is written in Japanese as a description of how it is cooked. Literally it is “beef – (metal grill) – heated/cooked”. It was translated as: The metal grill is pronounced “ami” in Japanese and this is the same pronunciation as “knitting”. The heated/cooked part used the same kanji that is used for burning things. Whoever translated (used it in its widest of interpretations!) did so word by word and came up with the senseless garbage that you see. The bright side is that …

English that leaves a bad taste in your mouth

This is from a menu at Fukuoka airport. It’s enough for you to lose your appetite. [ Click for a larger image ]

JIMTOF is international?

While my company translates a broad range of fields, a lot of my own translation work involves machine tools, machining centers, and related technology. So, when the “Japan International Machine Tool Fair” is held, I try to attend. Not only is it a good way to meet up with a dozen or so clients in one day, but I also get to see the latest developments and technology. This year I flew out from China (just two nights) to Tokyo for the event. It seemed a lot to do for an exhibition, but it is only held once every two years. The usual players were there and, unfortunately, many of …

Seven spices, but only one reading

In Japanese there are two (main) ways to read the number “7”. It can be read as either “nana” or “shichi” depending on the context and with which other characters it is combined. The Japanese character for seven is “七”. However, when it is put together with the character “味”, which means taste, it is only ever pronounced as “shichi”. The spicy mix of at least seven spices with red pepper as the main ingredient is written as “七味” and read “shichimi”. This is actually an abbreviation of “七味唐辛子” which is read as “shichimi togarashi”. No Japanese person, or anybody who had spent any real time living in Japan would …

Oolong tea

Here’s an example of what happens when you don’t hire a professional translator. You may have saved a few pennies, but that must be very little to the amount you spent on the product, printing, packaging, and distribution. Unfortunately, many people will see the translated text and use that to decide whether or not to purchase your product. The Japanese is even worse than the English! (Click the image to see a full-size version.)

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