Monday, December 10, 2012

What's in a name?

A couple more pictures I took down in Guizhou last month...

I can sort of see what's going on with this one. Well, I think it's just a crescent-shaped curve in the river. Odd how the definite article so often intrudes where it's not needed in Chinglish, while it is invariably omitted when it is required.

But this - even by the standards of absurd naming that are rampant in the Chinese property developing business - is just baffling. 300 Seats Out Of Print Waterfront Mansion?? (Can anyone assist with what the Chinese actually means? Maybe it's just a bad translation.)


The Weeble said...

All right, all right, who turned on the Weeble Signal?

Both of these are probably the result of machine translation -- those programs are geared to translate sentences rather than proper nouns, which means that sometimes (as in "the moon bend," which is really just "Crescent Bend" in Chinese) they have to create them when there are none.

The second one is more of the same: the Chinese just says 300席绝版水岸豪宅 -- "300 | [measure-word] | no-more-to-be-had/limited-edition/out-of-print | waterfront | mansion(s)," but this is the kind of sentence that requires at least a little bit of human intelligence to parse. (The translation algorithm here may also be unaware that 席 is a measure-word, since it can also function on its own as a noun or in compounds.) As it is, the English is a perfectly reasonable translation if you are a robot or a BLEU machine-translation scoring algorithm; the fact that it's incomprehensible to fleshling hu-mans is really just due to a design error on our side of the equation -- that is, the promiscuous polysemy and irrational anti-monadism of human language.

Froog said...

So, it's more of a 'Hurry now while stocks last!' advertising slogan than the name of the development?

You are a treasure, Weebs.

I look forward to the debut of your band, The Irrational Monads.

Froog said...

I wonder why they feel the need to 'translate' this kind of thing anyway. They do it just for my benefit?

A lower-tier city out in the sticks - I might well be the only foreigner ever to have seen this sign.

Froog said...

The above two comments were written consecutively - but my VPN just got squelched, AGAIN.

The Weeble said...

Much as a real-estate development called "Out-of-Print Heights" might appeal to you and me, yes; here it's more like "act now; one-time offer; limited-edition smoke-damaged furniture you can drive it away today."

As for the question of "why" -- pure ornamentation, just like most of the alleged English you see around China. I've long said that English is to pretentious Chinese people what French was to pretentious Anglophones a century or so ago, though obviously one difference is that some of the Anglophones probably did actually speak French.

Froog said...

Tu as raison, mon ami.