Lost in translation

It's fashionable these days for Westerners to wear t-shirts with Chinese calligraphy or have tattoos with Chinese words. I reckon 9 times out of 10, people have no idea what the Chinese phrase means.

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I found this one, where a boyfriend proudly displays what he calls “My girl's “Bitch” tattoo”. He posted this on a website, not knowing that it actually means prostitute.

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Before and after ... the cover the the Max Planck Research magazine was replaced after it was discovered that the original cover (left) was an ad for a strip joint.

This one is really funny. One of Europe's most prestigious scientific research institutes has had to issue an apology after discovering that the calligraphy used on the cover of its flagship magazine to illustrate a special China edition was

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in fact an ad for a Hong Kong strip joint.

The institute hastily replaced the cover – which advertises “hot, young housewives” – from the online and English edition of the publication, Max Planck Research, but not before the German language version of the periodical had been dispatched to subscribers.

Why is it so hard to get people to understand the importance of getting translations done properly, and checked by experts?

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About The Author

Kenneth is Director of Euroasia. He is passionate about languages and cultures.