Tuesday, July 13, 2004

Hilarity in Translation

A long-popular source of amusement on the Net is to observe the odd linguistic constructions that arise when foreign languages are rendered in English, and for some reason the best examples always seem to spring from Oriental languages. Since I've made a habit recently of collecting Japanese and Chinese classical music CDs, I've seen a lot of this. I don't tend to make fun of it, because I know that translation is a tough thing, and I'm sure that the examples make perfect sense in their original tongues. (And for all I know, the Japanese laugh uproariously when English is rendered into inadequate Japanese.)

But I had to laugh when I unwrapped my latest purchase, a disc of works by Masumoto Kikuko (on the Fontec label, in case anyone wants to know) and saw the translated title, "Various Variety of Tones". I thought, "Sure, because I wouldn't want to get a a variety that wasn't various!"

No comments: