When you live in another country, one that you can’t speak or read the language, you notice everything that is in English. I find myself reading people’s English t-shirts, or reading small signs on a bus that happen to be translated such as no smoking. It’s like I’ve become hyper aware on English and every time I see it, or hear it, I notice. (For instance Ryan and I were biking home the other night and I passed a young boy reciting his days lesson, ‘My name is Tom, what is your name?’ to his younger brother.)
When I see the rare package in English I always read it as well. One, in hopes to figure out what it is, and two, in hopes of being amused. Unless the package is from a large, multinational company it is usually quite funny. Take for instance Job’s Tears Nutritional Porridge.
The front of the package looks simple enough; nutritional porridge sounds good! And there is so much English on the package that for once, I could totally understand what I would be eating and how to cook it. Or could I? Here is the part of the back of the package.
The history of the Chinese eating the gruel is rumored from Emperor Huang period,3000 years ago, the gruel was given by the dukes and high ministers fro one of six drink. Having a rest after having gruel, you will feel too wonderful to describe it. Going to bed after having a gruel, you will be easy to fall asleep for your stomach full of gruel, it is the first happy thing in the world. The product was tested by practice in our company, which is nutrient and matches in science. With the heavy flavor and special fragrant tasty taste, the gruel is great welcome by the customer.
And the cooking instructions read:
(Edible better after it is cool and putted into the refrigerator to refrigerate.) This product can provide 3-5 person to edible, you may add or subtract. It according to the personal situation when you edible it. Welcome you to make the choice of purchasing the YanDa food again.
Needless to say this made Ryan and I giggle for quite awhile. It also assured us that we have job security because clearly, there is a whole lotta English language skills yet to be taught.
I always get a kick out of the bad translations from Chinese to English. I am editor of Emerson College’s magazine and read your class note about your travels. Fascinating!