“Learn Chinese everywhere!” This saying is not a slogan, but means that learning Chinese can be happening everywhere if you immerse yourself enough in the process of studying. When you were reading the daily newspaper, have you ever tried to translate those headlines or ads into Chinese?
Now is strawberry season and when I flipped through the newspaper a few days ago, I saw this advertizement with mouth watering bright red strawberries in a little delicate green basket with the caption that promotes:
” What’s your signature strawberry dish? No matter what the recipe, you know the star is that one key ingredient: the freshest, sweetest, juiciest strawberries. 1 lb. strawberries 2 for $ 4.”
These are my translation:
nǐ zuìjùyǒu dàibiǎoxìng de cǎoméi cān diǎn shì shénme ? wúlúnshì shénme shípǔ , nǐ zhīdào qí zhōng zhǔyāochéngfēn de míng xīng shì : zuì xīn xiān , zuì tiánměi , zhī zuìduō cǎoméi . yī bàng fèn cǎoméi liǎng fèn mài sì Měiyuán .
Then, the next page I saw was an even brighter and redder tomato with ads says:
” Red tomatoes on the vine. Have you tried to make fresh salsa? It’s easy. Just chop fresh tomatoes, onions and cilantro. Mix and diced green chiles, a clove of garlic and a squeeze of lime juice. Add salt and pepper to taste. Enjoy!”
téng shàng de hóng fān . nǐ chángshì zuò guò xīnxiān là jiā jiàng ma ? zuò zhè hěn róngyì. zhǐyào qiē xīnxiān de fānqié , yángcōng hé xiāngcài . diàoyún hòu jiāshàng lǜ làjiāo qiē lì , yīkēdàsuàn bìng jǐ xiē láimǔzhī . jiāshàng yán hé hújiāo zēngjiā wèidao . xiǎng yòng !
Then I wondered how Google translate would do, and the following is what I found:
For the strawberry one, it got general idea about the passage. However, the word juiciest did not get translated properly. For two for four dollars in the second ads, the “two” got omitted here. For 紧抱一下石灰汁 it goes: tightly hold calcium oxide juice a short while. Do you like that passionate translation?
There was once, I was doing a translation on a very famous Chinese proverb
复有诗书气自华。(fù yǒu shī shū qì zì huá. ) The literal meaning of the proverb should be something similar to:
If within a person has poetry and books, then the person’s temperament should naturally be gracious. It implies that as long as the person read a lot of poems and books, the person’s appearance, talking will naturally be cultivated and turned out nicely.Thus, the standard translation of this proverb is either “Knowledge makes a gentleman” or “Reading makes a man graceful”. However, if you check Google translate, then its translation goes: “Complex has poetry and gas from China.” Ha Ha you might say?
So, based on the short analysis on a few passages’ translation, we should know that Google translate is a good reference tool, but we should use it with caution. Whenever has doubt, we should get the second opinion. It can be either from a dictionary or from a native speaker. Have you ever encountered any ridiculous or silly translation from Google translate? We would love to hear them:)
Strawberry Avalanche- Owl City music video & lyrics