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Sunday, April 5, 2015

Remarkable Creativity

literal translations of normal chinese cantonese mandarin words

Feel free to correct me on this comic. I won't pretend I speak either of those Chineses.

39 comments:

  1. I wonder when that name for Germany was invented. It can only have been in very narrow timeframes of history.

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    1. 德國 (Déguó, "Virtue Country" or "Moral Land") is short for 德意志聯邦共和國 Déyìzhì Liánbāng Gònghéguó - the first bit is (if you squint a bit) a transcription of "Deutsch", the next bit is "Federal" and the last one is "Republic", so "Federal Republic of 'Deutsch'" or "Federal Republic of Germany".

      So Déguó is basically just "Deu-country" rather than "Moral Land"; the character is just used for its pronunciation. It's true that it does have an underlying meaning but it's not _really_ relevant in this context.

      A bit like how in "US", the "U" does not stand for "you" (despite textspeak conventions).

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    2. Lots of names are based on the sound, for instance, Canada 加拿大 Jiānádà, which literally means Add Take Big, which makes no sense.

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  2. Haha! The first syllable of Deutschland sounds like the word moral in Chinese. It doesn't mean anything more then a sound.

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    1. Well it's a bit more than just the same sound actually, it's the same character.

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    2. Well, yes, but in "Dao De Jing" that character is used for its meaning and in "Deguo" it is used only for its sound.

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  3. Actually, Chinese for idiot literally means "Stupid Egg", not melon.And yeah, Chinese is very blunt and straight to the point. For instance a traffic light in Mandarin literally translated over means "Red Green Light", and potato is "Earth/Dirt Bean), a washer is "Wash Clothes Machine", and a dish washer is "Wash Dish Machine", and etc. I think you got my point, very blunt and straightforward in their naming, which help you guess the meaning if you don't know what it is. But anyway, love the comic's!

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    1. Cool! Good to know. If someone else can verify the Stupid Egg vs. Melon thing, I'll change it in the comic. Thanks Rainy

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    2. The RainyAsian is correct, the word for idiot in Chinese is 'stupid egg', not 'stupid melon'. And the word for potato being 'earth/dirt bean'(土豆) is actually only applicable in China :/ If you ask for 土豆 in countries like Taiwan, Malaysia and Singapore, you would be given peanuts.

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    3. Andy Tan is right, 土豆 is how we say it in mainland china, but most other countries use 马铃薯 Mǎlíngshǔ (Alternative for Potato) or in Taiwanese Hokkien, a widely spoken dialect, it means Peanuts, so thats why they use the 马铃薯 Mǎlíngshǔ.
      https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Cm7mCmncbvA

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    4. stupid melon also translates to idiot, as in 傻瓜

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    5. Now I get it! I was thinking what the hell is 笨瓜 -.- But 傻瓜 sounds so flirtatious and affectionate to me :/

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    6. Changed! Stupid Egg it is. Which is kinda funny, since the Itchy Feet guy is vaguely egg-shaped...

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    7. 傻瓜 (stupid melon) and 笨蛋 (stupid egg) are basically the same thing, but 傻瓜 (stupid melon) is much more soft and affectionate. Think of it as calling someone "dumb dumb" whereas 笨蛋 (stupid egg) is closer to "idiot."

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    8. Because we Chinese just love to make sense XD we call everything for what they are, like some German words also do.

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  4. Verification: https://m.youtube.com/watch?v=bD_KADDg9Sw
    Feel free to translate each character of "笨蛋", or stupid.

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    1. Hee hee! So does that mean just saying "Bén" also means stupid? "I'm Ben." "LOL"

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    2. Though the Pinyin syllable "ben" sounds more like the English word "bun" than "ben", I think. (And the second tone as in "Bén" is rising tone, so a bit like "bun?".)

      But close enough :)

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    3. Well kinda. Yeah I guess. ”笨“ Bèn can be used in a variety of different words to mean stupid, and on its own can be used as stupid. Example "你很笨。“ "Ni hen bèn." "You are very stupid." No Bèn Dan needed, only Bèn. Oh yeah, its a falling tone to. So Bèn.
      And now that I see it, it can be confused for I am stupid. So now I know why all my friends named Ben get so low scores! This explains everything! XD

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    4. I guess it's like having the name "Wang" and getting laughed at in an English-speaking country...

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    5. True story: My dad works at a bakery, and one day they got an order for a birthday cake, that said "Happy Birthday Dung". It wasn't a typo; the people who ordered it were Korean, and apparently Dung is a common Korean name!

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  5. There is another word for bicycle in Chinese, which is 脚踏车(transliterated to leg stepped/paddled car), and is only used in Malaysia and Singapore. That makes more sense, I guess!

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    1. Could it be a Cantonese or Hokkien phrase? I've never heard of it used in Taiwanese or Beijing based Mandarin. I know a lot of Malaysian and Singaporean Chinese are taken from southern dialects.

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    2. Yes, as I've said, it's only used in Malaysia and Singapore. :) I am not very sure where it originated, or maybe it's some word that we made up, haha.

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    3. As a Singaporean mandarin speaker I can't figure out what flower soldier and toe grandpa were translated from... any ideas?

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    4. I think flower soldier is 花匠, but I'm not very sure as 匠 does not translate to soldier. and I guess toe grandpa is 大拇指公, but again, it doesn't really make sense to me either, it might be used in China though, I'm not sure.

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    5. Maybe 园丁 as Gardener? I don't know.

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    6. actually, we use 脚踏车 in Taiwanese Mandarin and I'm pretty sure this noun originated from Taiwan

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    7. I'm not gonna argue from which country it originated but the only thing I'm sure is the word 脚踏车 originated from the word for bicycle in Minnan dialect 闽南语. Both Taiwanese and Malaysian Hokkien dialect are branches of 闽南语, so I guess that's why. But thank you for letting me know that the word is used in Taiwanese Mandarin, because I have never heard it used before!

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    8. No idea where 腳踏車 originated from but pretty sure I've heard it somewhere, though in Cantonese we say 單車 (single car? Now that I think of it...)
      And the toe thing is probably just our 腳指公 :)

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  6. Great comic as always! I've put $5 a month into the Itchy Feet Patreon campaign, and I hope you all will too! http://patreon.com/itchyfeetcomic

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  7. 花匠 is more like "flower artisan" or "flower craftsman". The first character in 拇指 for "big toe" or "thumb"has the same phonetic as "mother" but doesn't mean the same thing. (Chinese has lots of homophones!)

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  8. As a Chinese, I'm offended by you saying that Germany = moral land. Moral is pronounced as DE whcih sounds like Deutche, that's it!!!! France is 法國 which sounds like the land of the Law but tha'ts only coz 法 is pronouced as FA.

    There are other mistakes, too. Next time, please run these things by someone who really knows about the Chinese culture.

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    1. Sorry to offend you, no offense intended. I did actually run it by two separate people who speak fluent Mandarin, Cantonese AND English. One was a Chinese language learning company, tutorming.com, that offered to proofread it before it went live.

      So...in my defense, I did do my homework!

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    2. Anonymous, I don't think there were any value judgments being made about Germany. He was merely pointing out the fact that if you translate the word literally, it comes out to something like "Moral Land."

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  9. This was so hilarious! I even told my dad about it!
    Do more!

    Since I am Taiwanese, some of this does not make sense to me (like the flower soldier) but the rest was funny.

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    1. Glad you liked it! I will do more.......

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