Elchanan sent me the following story:
LONDON (AFP) — Officials in Wales mistakenly erected a road sign that read “I am not in the office at the moment” in Welsh after a translation mix-up.
The sign originally said in English, “No entry for heavy goods vehicles. Residential site only,” but when Swansea Council officials sent it to be translated, they received an automated e-mail written in Welsh that read: “I am not in the office at the moment. Please send any work to be translated.”
Unaware of the actual meaning of the e-mail, officials had the sign printed and put up near a supermarket, only realising their mistake when Welsh speakers pointed it out.
All road signs in Wales are required to be written in English and Welsh.
“Our attention was drawn to the mistranslation of a sign at the junction of Clase Road and Pant-y-Blawd Road,” a Swansea Council spokesman said.
“We took it down as soon as we were made aware of it and a correct sign will be installed as soon as possible.”
I think part of what makes silly or erroneous signs so funny is their official-ness: a printed sign has an authority and seriousness that we learn to obey from a very young age. An error on an official sign is like a policeman with a button open — a humanity and vulnerability is revealed unexpectedly and inappropriately.
Reminds one of the well-publicized story of a Chinese restaurant’s English sign, posted specially for the 2008 Summer Olympics in Beijing:
[Images via Neonascent]
Disemvowlmnt: The process of pruning a word of its vowels in order to cram an idea into the requisite 140 characters allowed in a Twitter post.
[word seen at @Quatrainman]
Patterfamilias: Saying something to your child and then realizing that you sound just like one of your own parents.
Exclave: A portion of a country which is separated from the main part and surrounded by politically alien territory.
But here’s the great part: “The same territory is an enclave in respect to the surrounding country and an exclave with respect to the country to which it is politically attached.”
(definition excerpted from Webster’s Revised Unabridged Dictionary, as referenced at Dictionary.com)
Lovely, isn’t it? Came up in the context of the territories of Liechtenstein:
While many of these Liechtensteinian fragments might be considered exclaves, most also border more than one other territory, and consequently only three can be considered enclaves…
[Strange Maps blog]
Here’s the kanji (Chinese and Japanese character) for tree (ki, in Japanese):
Here’s the kanji for woods, hayashi (i.e., many trees):
And here’s the kanji for forest, mori (even more trees):
Now, here’s the kanji for power, chikara:
And the kanji for cooperate, kyo (i.e., even more power):
Cultural concepts run deep. I rest my case.
“Prose is architecture, not interior decoration, and the Baroque is over.” (Ernest Hemingway, Death in the Afternoon)
…for example, if you’re working with text originally written by a non-native speaker of the language.
I wanted to change the setting on a very simple (kosher) Samsung flip phone, so that instead of answering calls automatically when I open the phone, it will only answer when I press the “call” button to accept the call (this gives me a chance to see Caller ID first).
I knew the setting was available somewhere. Well, I looked and I looked. I hunted through every possible menu (there aren’t many on this phone).
In desperation, I got help from an Israeli colleague, who found the setting in just a couple of minutes. It wasn’t obvious. The function can be found in the “Extra Settings” in the “Settings” menu — fair enough. But the function itself is called “Active Folder”.
As a native English-speaker, I understood “Active Folder” to mean “a group of files or functionalities that are activated”, and therefore didn’t select that function even when I saw it during my original hunt.
My English-as-a-second-language colleague understood “Active Folder” correctly: “the function triggered by folding the phone is active”.
Things I packed today:
- cufflings (what my son uses to fasten his French cuffs)
- banging suit (what my daughter wears to the beach)
- o-ganki des (a toddler’s blankie)
- twenty white shirts, folded with great care and tension (note to self: make appointment for massage upon arrival)
- an entire rainbow of Crocs (red, brown, purple, green, pink, blue, white, and black)
Nine people. Eleven days. There’s very little floor visible in this house tonight. (Tread lightly on the duffle bags, please.)
Seen in Tokyo:
Suddenly, I’m not that thirsty.