Wednesday, January 15, 2014

In Which I Become A Conduit of World Peace

I kid you not, my favorite Chinese restaurant is now changing it's name to "Dong Fang."  I don't know if it's changing ownership, but that has got to be the most unfortunate name I've heard in a while.  I would think that a "dong fang," while quite the conversation piece, would be extremely uncomfortable.

Language is a tricky business.  As a worldwide phenomenon, I would like to ask everyone who speaks a language besides English to tell me how to say the following phrases in another language (a recognized one... talking like a cast member of Jersey Shore or using Pig Latin doesn't count):

1. Where is the bathroom?
2. Does this look infected to you?
3. Those drugs aren't mine.
4. That man was dead when I got here.

So, if you speak a language besides English, let's take good advantage of our status as a cosmopolitan blog and teach other these critical phrases.  Put 'em in the comments!

Meanwhile, don't ever answer the phone if you're a character in a Pep Comics story:

On the second one, I think it would be a hilarious follow-up for the voice on the other end of the line to say, "His name is Aahhgt?  Is that Scandinavian?"

As you can see, telephonic communication in Pep Comics (this was issue #40, by the way) is a hazardous thing to do.


Relax.  Mrs. Andrews is fine.  Archie, however, is dead in the basement.

I keed, I keed.

Hey!  It's time for Fun with Out of Context Dialogue! (tm!)

We get a two-fer with that one, because.... That's a Fair Question. (tm!)

See you tomorrow!


Wayne Allen Sallee said...

Chicago might as well be a foreign language to, well, even the cast of Jersey Shore.

Here is how we would ANSWER your questions. 1/ and 2/: I dunno. 3/ and 4/, well, there you go.

Adam, if you are evcer here, you can get by talking with strangers with two phrases: Well, there you go, and What are you gonna do about it. (no question mark.)

Wayne Allen Sallee said...

*ever, not evcer. Though you can buy a bottle of Everclear booze/cleaning fluid anywhere along Van Buren Street.

MarvelX42 said...

I think you should change #4 from "That man was dead when I got here" to "That person was dead when I got here" Cause hey, it might be a woman.

Yael said...

I can supply the Hebrew versions of these sentences, however with #2 and #3 a literal translation just loses some of the comedic effect; I can five you a literal translation, but it'll sound weird and stilted, what we translators sometimes call 'translatorese' - not naturally Hebrew.
I guess it's just not the sort of thing you'd hear said (even in comedic situations, which I think is where I usually see it in English). I tried to supply an alternate version, which, while different, might be a bit more natural for a Hebrew-speaker.

?איפה השירותים
(Efo ha-sherutim, pronounced with the stress on the last syllables; I think 'Eh-phở ha-share-ooh-Tim' is a close enough approximation.)

A. Literal:
?נראה לך שזה מזוהם
(Nir'e lekha [m.] / lakh [f.] she-ze mezoham? Pron. approx. 'Near-eh le-ja/loch [it's hard to figure out how to express that slight throat-clearing sound, like Spanish j, without making people over-pronounce it] sheh-zeh meh-zo-hum)
B. More natural:
?זה נראה לך בסדר
(Ze nir-eh lekha/lakh beseder?
'beseder' is pronounced with stress on 'se'. It means 'does this look okay to you?', which I think what a native Hebrew speaker would be more likely to say.
B2. Another option that comes to mind:
?נראה לך שיש [פה] זיהום
(Nir'e lekha/lakh she-yesh [po] zihoom? Which means 'Do you think there's an infection [here]'. Somewhat of a midway solution, a bit more natural than the literal translation, a bit more accurate than the free translation, and I think that's enough for now...)

A. Literal:
הסמים האלה לא שלי
(Ha-samim ha-ele lo sheli. Pron. approx.: ha-sa-meme ha-El-leh lo she-Lee, all stress on the last syllables except in ha-ele where it's on the El.)
B. More natural:
זה לא שלי (Ze lo sheli)
הסמים לא שלי (Ha-samim lo sheli)
(Meaning 'this isn't mine', OR 'the drugs aren't mine'; actually, in a lower register someone might even say 'ha-samim ze lo sheli' - 'the drugs, that's not mine', more or less - instead of the second option. Again, it's not a 1:1 equivalent but I think that's more like what someone might actually say.)

הוא היה [כבר] מת כשהגעתי
(Hoo haya [kvar] met kshe-higati. Pron. Approx. Who ha-yah kvar met kshe-he-gah-tea. This actually not 100% literal as well, replacing 'that man' with 'he' - because people would simply not say 'that man' in this context - and dropping the 'here' for a general 'arrived', which already implies where you arrived to.)

...I think that was much longer than I intended, but this is what happens when you ask a translator for something seemingly simple like that. :) Enjoy!

MarvelX42 said...

Also there are alot of online free translators such as:

Adam Barnett said...

Nothing like getting it from someone who knows their stuff. Thanks, Yael!