2014年5月20日 星期二

This is what we fight about

There will be no 放屁 jokes here.

The Wind Rises (風立ちぬ) is a Japanese film based on the Japanese short story The Wind has Risen (風立ちぬ) (no, that is not a typo), both of which take their title from the french poem, Le Cimetière marin (The Graveyard by the Sea) which contains the following words at the beginning of the line at the beginning of the final stanza, "Le vent se lève!" (The wind is rising). 

Note: I'm sure there's a good reason why cimetière is not translated cemetery in any translation I can find, but I'm not a french translator, so I can't be sure. And I don't actually think there's a good reason. And mer is sea, so wtf, I mean, really. Can we not just have The cemetery by the sea? Please let there be some colloquial subtlety I don't know about here, or one that mattered in some earlier time.

So, because of this, we get six, yes, count them SIX, translations into the Chinese. Four french words, three/four english words, four japanese characters, and six chinese translations.

Via wikipedia, (go find it yourself you lazy bum, links are silly):

Two official translations:


And you thought 瞭 didn't matter. Shouldn't have slept through that day/year of class, I guess.



Sayre's Law.


And since Hideaki Anno is the lead, I must include his theory on translation, which I've long wanted to post here, but resisted, but which I basically subscribe to whole-heartedly. whole-hog and think about every day.

Twelve-dimensional functionalism:

The meaning of the final scene is obscure,[13][14] and has been controversial.[15][16] According to an episode of the Japanese anime show Anime Yawa aired March 31, 2005 on NHK's satellite TV, Asuka's final line was initially written as "I'd never want to be killed by you of all men, absolutely not!" or "I'll never let you kill me." ("Anta nankani korosareru nowa mappira yo!") but Anno was dissatisfied with Miyamura's renditions of this line.[17] Eventually Anno asked her a question which described what he was going for with this scene:
"Concerning the final line we adopted, I'm not sure whether I should say about it in fact. At last Anno asked me 'Miyamura, just imagine you are sleeping in your bed and a stranger sneaks into your room. He can rape you anytime as you are asleep but he doesn't. Instead, he masturbates looking at you, when you wake up and know what he did to you. What do you think you would say?' I had been thinking he was a strange man, but at that moment I felt disgusting. So I told him that I thought 'Disgusting.' And then he sighed and said, 'I thought as much.'"[18]
Tiffany Grant, Asuka's English dub voice actress, made the following statement:
"The most widely circulated translation of the last line of EoE [End of Evangelion] is "I feel sick," but Amanda Winn Lee (Rei Ayanami's English voice actor and director of End of Evangelion) said she asked several translators, and she felt "disgusting" was the most accurate adaptation.[19]  

I thought as much. 

2014年3月2日 星期日

Ranking our hatreds

Keeping track of the big insults of the day is kind of a favorite hobby of mine. Occasionally I even write about it. Some of my favorites over the years have the been the 湯唯 incident, the 楊銳之言 and now good old Gary Locke.



But at the end of the day, how do we really know who is hated most? Lucky you. I've decided to throw my hand in the ring at a very non-exhaustive list of who really is the most hated. Feel free to make up your own lists or contribute your thoughts below. And I know what you're going to say, "What about the Uyghurs or the...etc." I'm sorry. We're trying to keep this first list concise. Maybe you can organize the forgotten hated on your list. Or, maybe, we can only wish, one day there will be a longer updated list that is more inclusive. Enjoy.

10. East asian foreigner who is not Japanese.

You can blend in most of the time, so hatred is kept to a minimum.

9. Non-asian foreigner (we're currently iffy on the question of India, but of course this includes certain sections of "Nepal.")

8. "Asian" foreigner who is not east asian.

7. Japanese people.

6. Foreigner of Chinese origin who does not speak Chinese.

5. Japanese man with a Chinese wife or girlfriend.

Ranked higher than four because there is a chance of passing.

4. Non-asian foreigner with Chinese wife or girlfriend.

3. Chinese citizen who takes positions contrary to the party line.

2. Chinese woman who has a foreign, non-asian spouse or boyfriend.

1. Chinese woman with a Japanese husband or boyfriend. (Including imagined or in movies. See 湯唯)


0. (Intersects with 3 as well.) (Greater) Chinese female 分裂分子 who openly asserts contrary positions from points outside of the motherland. See: 呂秀蓮 and others who will not be named.


So, when you think about it, Gary Locke gets off pretty easy. Being a running dog, or "guide dog," whatever that means, is better than being a woman who basically does anything. Or lots of Japanese people.

2013年6月10日 星期一


"Hong Kong is the worst place in the world for any person to avoid extradition, with the possible exception of the United Kingdom,” said one lawyer who’s worked on a dozen extradition cases both in the U.K. and Hong Kong, citing a number of murder and drug smuggling cases in which Hong Kong authorities have helped render suspects back to the U.S. While an exception for political cases exists, lawyers said Monday they weren’t aware of any specific instances in which it had been tested.

- Hong Kong Baffled by Snowden’s Hideout



Exactly what I was thinking, Hong Kong. Equally baffled.

It’s hard to know what brings the fish scent out so strong that small children must be kept indoors and adults must hold something to their face to survive the smell. Is it possible that a person capable and intelligent enough to be able get the jobs he had and access to the files he released is also ignorant enough to imagine Hong Kong as the shining city on the hill brandishing freedom and democracy, all as sovereign Chinese soil? Or does the fish smell come from any sane person realizing how insane that sounds.

2013年5月19日 星期日

A few of my favorite things

its buying and selling cats and dogs

Yeah, it’s buying and selling cats and dogs.


- - -


I don’t smoke a lot. I smoke about once every 100 years. And I haven’t had my smoke this century yet. When you don’t smoke, you miss stuff like this.




smokers gonna smoke

Look at her face. I know she’s supposed to be covering her mouth, because “SECOND-HAND SMOKE WILL KILL YOUR FAMILY!!” I mean, “Second-hand smoke is a euphemistic way of saying your family hates you and thinks you’re a failure, shithead.” One more try, “Second-hand smoke harms your family, jerk.” FINE, “Second-hand smoke is detrimental to your family’s health.” Are you happy?

The point is, you can and should write anything on there, including sarcastic shit because being all serious and saying, “smoking is no joking!” surely ain’t doing shit. Which takes me back to that photo. The woman there is ostensibly covering her mouth to prevent the smoke monster from harming her or something, but really, you have a look of horror and disgust, as if her husband has been transformed into a smoker, giant bug, horrible monster AND/OR she’s walked in, at her home, with her son in her arms, and discovered her husband in bed, with another woman, not just watching television.

And the kid’s expression does it too. Look at that kid’s face. People look at that face of abject horror EVERY DAY and say, “FUCK IT! GIVE ME MORE EXPENSIVE CANCER STICKS ON THE DOUBLE!!”

Remember kids, never accept second-best. Never settle for “updated blue,” always demand “original blue.”

And, because someone in the government is positive that most people don’t have a heart, they have this on the backside, just to remind them.

for those of you don't have a heart

Department of Health reminder!: you’re a horrible person because you’re a smoker. Quit now, seriously. No one likes you and you’re throwing your money away. Try the lottery instead. At least then you have a chance of winning.

Try 2: Hotline for those looking to quit smoking: 0800 636363, Department of Health, Executive Yuan.

- - -

And obviously, as anyone who writes the for the internet must know, you save the best for last and always bury your lead.



Because 掛power long ago passed guacamole to become my favorite thing that starts with a 掛. Don’t forget kids, 打拼! Or something.

It pretty much speaks for itself, (i.e., not at all to the uninitiated) but it’s probably better if you soak it in first before knowing too much.

What can I say, I like expressions. And maybe magicians? Or people who do magician 姿勢?

It’s like the drunken brother you had, but never wanted.

- - -

And no series of favorite things is complete without fruit stuck on a tree on a hiking trail. Obviously.

that's a pineapple in case you're wondering

That’s a pineapple, in case you were wondering. And yes, there’s a reason it’s stuck in that tree. And no, I did not put that one (or the other ones!) there.


Have a nice day.

2013年3月25日 星期一

Down-market untranslations


Department of Health warning: Chewing betel nuts causes jaw dysfunction and mouth cancer.

(If it were up to me I’d lead with the cancer, but it’s not.)

cancer balls

cancer up close

Nothing says cancer like a pretty girl with a boob window. Because if you’re going to die of cancer, shouldn’t we try to make your death as pleasant as possible?


It’s the little things like this that are just as important as all the ornamental “English” and all the Chinese-in-English/Zhonglish. Once you have one, it introduces a dichotomy that can’t be unseen. What was once just untranslated betel nut warnings, packaging and signage now becomes part of a larger narrative about what “native” means, how marketing creates prestige and how down-market is understood. There then emerges a race to keep up with the Jones’, which almost everyone feels required to play, even if they don’t actually play. The untranslated betel nut packaging company probably “feels” they should have “English” on there, y’know, “just because.”

I’d argue that this is most of what is going on with the personal naming situation, as well, though personal names are complicated by a few other factors: interaction with non-Chinese speakers, comfort with a non-broken romanization system and feelings about one’s nation/culture/history/language (both independent of and in comparison to others.) And probably other important factors I’m forgetting. In Taiwan, I’d say the far-and-away dominant factor affecting the personal naming system is the absence of a familiarity with a non-broken romanization system, but I’d imagine keeping up or un-specific feelings of inferiority (conscious or subconscious) are a strong number two.


Now obviously there’s some sort of feedback here. To what extent could chewing betel nuts be made unattractive by showering it in a sea of light and English translations, a la the Taibei MRT stations? Where would smokers run and hide to if they felt their product had somehow been co-opted by hipsters or was clearly marketed to young college age women in the city? Would guys still buy their betel nuts if they all came in pink and purple packages with glitter and doilies? I doubt the MRT ridership demographics would look like they do if the MRT felt more similar to the NYC subway.

So, there you go, I cured cancer, turning lemons into lemonade. You’re welcome.

2013年3月21日 星期四

Convenience store translationomics overdrive


So, what’s going on here?

First, let’s note that “juice” is not written anywhere in Chinese characters, which is another way of saying it is the Chinese. It may be written in roman letters, it may resemble a non-Chinese word you know well, but it is still Chinese.

Since anyone buying this product can immediately identify what it is without reading the word “juice,” what function does that word have there? We could say it’s a high-five and slap on the back of the public for being so hip and learning its ABCs as a kid. That it’s “hip” to use roman letters to show that you “get it” and that you’re with the times and modern and use all the cool new lingo and stuff. That it’s about giving those five year olds a big pat on the head for memorizing all those vocabulary words. Oh, boy, lucky big day, you go to the store and bam! Your favorite company is conspiring with you to produce packaging that makes you feel like you’re learning something and “connected” with the global, modern world and all that shit, with no overt comment about what they think about your actual, current surroundings, or how accurately their labeling resembles actual labeling.

So, we’ve got labeling here that’s clearly not targeted at someone who doesn’t know Chinese (in Chinese characters or roman letters.) But what else do we have? We have programmatic and systematic adding of Chinese in roman letters, which one could imagine is for non Chinese speakers, but is most likely there for Chinese speakers, or really anyone's best guess

This gives us Ponkan.




Could they just as easily have left off the word orange? Yes. Might I find their packaging changed in 6 months to just say “ponkan juice?” Yes.

You remember ponkan, right? It’s 椪柑, pènggān. Who does this matter to?

You know that time in the US when you were really super excited about learning what to call your favorite Kentucky Blue Cheese McBurger sandwich with kale-infused lettuce in Chinese? And then someone was like, “oh, you mean that burger. You can just call it a 漢堡. Your fancy blah blah blah means nothing to me in my language. We barely have the stomach to let people from Kazakhstan use their proper names in Chinese. You think we’re going to let you ramble on about some fucking kind of burger?”

Things about American (North American?) English. 1: Your name counts. You don’t have to be Sally. 2: Your fruit doesn’t count. They’re all oranges. There’s no end to the marketing and classification for things. They can be Michigan cherries or Michigan red cherries or sour currants or whatever anyone cares to call them, backed up by science or not. But it's the people that make the decisions about what things are actually called.

Moving on.

More fruit. Literally.


See those white Chinese characters against a red background? They say 木瓜. At least where I come from, 木瓜 usually means papaya. You're probably thinking, "they've put a picture, right? That's good enough. All fruits TOTALLY have distinctive shapes! No one ever confuses one spherical fruit with another, especially when it’s without any colors! That’s crazy!”

So, actual thing needing to be labeled, yet the result is the worse than nothing “fruit.” Again, what we have here is a nice pat on the head for 育良: look at you superstar! A totally bat-shit crazy labeling of a product you can totally see and buy has a word you fucking know and can pronounce, maybe! And it’s all fucking English! You’re the king of the world!

So, story here, again, is we have Chinese written in roman letters, for a Chinese speaking audience. Do you see a pattern? This might be getting boring for you. Sorry.

Moving on.

How about a delicious sandwich?

I know what you’re thinking: the “delicious x” is an incredibly rare structure and hard to use properly in English, so surely you’re not going to show me some packaging with that written on it that also tells me to start referring to everything as “tasty,” as well, are you?

Settle down there, cowboy. It’s just a delicious sandwich.


delicious sandwich

Doesn't it just look delicious?

The best thing about this is that along with our “fruit” example above, there’s not even a pretend attempt to inform through the use of roman letters here. We’ve abandoned all pretense to use roman letters in a way that might not cause an English speaker to sneer (remember, it’s tough to criticize single words composed of roman letters that stand alone, are fully formed and are spelled correctly.) Here, delicious sandwich cannot be read as anything except 好吃的三明治, and that’s of course why you will not find any of that written anywhere on the labeling. Sure, there’s a 土司 here and there, but that’s about it.

Why do I find this interesting? Because it’s a weird kind of thing. It’s not like pig latin, where you kind of shift things a bit to the left or look at them a little funny till they make sense. It’s not like when Ataturk made everyone stop writing in the Perso-Arabic script either. And it’s not really like India where people kind of just switched to English, or used it as a different language. Here we have a kind of consumption of the skeleton of the language: it’s sounds and writing system, and also a lot of the basic mappings of a lot of the words to certain meanings. And after chewing up all these skeleton bits, it’s wrapped around the same culture and people as the old language, with it’s old ways of saying things and writing things and meanings that make sense to them.

Delicious sandwich isn’t English. It’s Chinese, written in roman letters, pronounced according to a phonetic rule system everyone learns as a kid, based on the meanings and mappings that are common and make sense to Chinese speakers, and are foreign (and often incoherent) to places where English is spoken as a native language.This is Chinese, it’s just got a new wrapper, and a new script that looks nearly identical to English and with new sounds that sounds that are nearly identical to English, and a grammar that picks and chooses parts of English grammar to hold fast to when it wants. I think it’s wrong to call this Chinese English, which should really be reserved for something like American English or British English or Indian English. I think the term Chinglish is best applied to a compromise of an attempt to communicate across languages, something closer to a pidgin or a creole. This distinction is subtle, but “Delicious sandwich” on labeling for native English speakers is Chinglish, but on labeling for Chinese speakers, I think it’s 英式中文, or Engwen. (But since that’s kind of a fail as either Yingwen or Engwen, I guess Zhonglish is where we end up.) Some see the distinction between instrumental vs. ornamental, but I think that’s beside the point. Zhonglish is sometimes ornamental, but it doesn’t have to be. Sometimes it is instrumental and ornamental. And sometimes it is purely instrumental.

The question is, why? If you’ve got a perfectly good system to do all these things, why adopt a new one? One could argue it’s just a fashion thing: “English” today, “Hungarian” tomorrow, etc. Or one could argue it has to do with deeper power dynamics. I think you know where my vote is.

Moving on. Let’s move over to the magazine rack.


Whatcha reading guys?

Oh, the new issue of ELLL?  I LLLove that magazine! Or should I say I 心心心 that magazine?

What about you? COOKing? I fuck營 love suffixes that can be used to make gerunds too! Let’s be friends and be confused about verbs and how to translate 烹調 together!

The great thing about this shot is that everyone looks like they're reading "English," as if reading magazines in not-English is something only hooligans would do who just come into 7-11 to buy cigarettes, which IS TOTALLY NOT THE BREAD AND BUTTER OF THEIR OPERATION! DO NOT THINK THAT EVER! THEY SELL CUTE ANIMALS AND YOGURT DRINKS, NOT CANCER STICKS THAT WILL SHORTEN YOUR LIFE AND KILL YOUR RELATIVES WHILE SUCKING AWAY YOUR MONEY AND WILL TO LIVE!

Anyway, it’s the same thing going on here in the shot as in above. Just read that part over if you still don’t get it.

2013年3月10日 星期日

Drugs and Sex

A lot of people wonder what happened to all the old sites of the web. It seems you almost never find something from the early days anymore. There’s a good reason for that and it’s only partly because no one links to or reads old stuff. That good reason is that most of the early web was porn. And you can’t find it because those sites are all gone. Where you can find it, however, is in books, (yes, dead-tree books) that people wrote around that time and which serve as the only decent records of what happened back then. And since I mostly talk about pop music or other silly things here, instead of what’s really dominant on the internet (porn,) think of this as a corrective to that overlooking. But first, some fun with drugs since sex and drugs seem to go together like peas and carrots.

Note: More 7-11 fun is still in store. (Pun intended)




drugs mean never having to say youre sorry

A happy life is a drug-free life.

Love begins at the rejection of drugs. (And judging by the location of this wall, drugs apparently start in Banqiao.)




編著: 章道安 朱怡陶

Pornographic web sites

Editors: Zhāng Dàoān, Zhū Yítáo


Tokyo Topless


Last Update: Aug 28, 1996



Welcome to Japan's hottest web site. Here you'll find enough skin and beauties at your service to kill a small horse. However, friend, beware: this page is not for the faint of heart. Those with high blood pressure or heart disease should take the necessary precautions to ensure their personal safety. For those of you just reaching manhood, don't forget to stick some tissues up your nose. It can help to avoid problems that may arise in the near future, if you catch my drift.


And because we cover language here, here’s one of the many hidden treasures from this book:





Sexual Terminology in English

Everything you need to know.

The toughest part of any language is surely its slang. But it often happens that this part of the language is what you come to use more than anything else day to day. And it's this part of the language that often is the most useful. Each term below can be thought of as a precious jewel. Take time to memorize each and every one. Only through repetition and practice can you attain perfection in their usage.  English is an international language. Your mastery of its particulars are a skill you can carry with you for all your days. But, first and foremost, you can use them to swim in vast sea of adult sites to your heart's content. After reading about each country's red light district, you're probably feeling the sudden urge to pay each one a visit, right? With this trusty phrasebook at your side you won't ever be stuck with a beautiful foreign lady at your side, completely unable to communicate. Nothing less than the prestige of our nation demands that you get these words right. Good luck.