Wednesday, February 25, 2009

Lost in Translation

I'm subscribed to a translator website through which I used to get some freelance Thai-English translation jobs. The site features a message board where people can ask for translations of words or phrases and members of the site post translations and critique those of others. I've recently been a little annoyed by a couple of "translators" who don't seem to understand that looking a word up in a Thai-English dictionary and writing down the entry does no good if you don't understand what it means (and then use the dictionary to tell me that I don't understand what an English word means). /end_rant
A submission today took the cake. The requested translation was for the phrase,
Our hero is efficiency. and our hero is chomping at the bit.
Apparently it's some cheesy company motto. The posted translation was
For those of you who don't read Thai, this roughly translates as
Our Heroes [they just transliterate the English word] are quality food and are easy to eat.
As evidence of the quality of their translation (the translator gave this translation a "Highest" rating, which you typically do if you are absolutely sure it is correct), the translator referenced a English-Thai dictionary entry explaining that a "Hero" is "a type of food consisting of meat, cheese, tomato, onion, and lettuce on bread," as well as a recipe for a hero sandwich and two websites about where to get hero sandwiches in New York. It was hard not to go to town in my critique of their translation.
For any Thai speakers, I submitted the rough translation of
วีรบุรุษของเราคือประสิทธิภาพ และวีรบุรุษนี้กำลังร้อนรุ่ม
Like I said, it's a rough translation, but I think it gets the meaning across. I feel like "ประสิทธิภาพ" doesn't quite convey the time-saving meaning that "efficiency" has come to have, but I'm not sure what Thai word would do a better job. Coming up with something for "chomping at the bit" really made me miss a sweet illustrated book of Thai idioms that one of my mission companions had. Feel free to let me know if you have any suggestions.

Monday, February 16, 2009

Or am I? . . .

First, some background info. A UW student has put together a service called One Bus Away (, which interfaces with the city bus information system to let you call, send a text message, or check the web site to find out how many minutes early or late your bus is going to be. It's really handy, and I use it pretty much every time I catch the bus, now that we have unlimited text messaging. (Thanks, Mom and Dad!)

So I was waiting for the bus this afternoon and had already found out that the bus was going to be 10 minutes late. A fellow at the stop asked me and another person if we were both waiting for the 75--he wanted to make sure he hadn't missed it. I told him that the bus was going to be about another 6 minutes. He nodded, then seemed to realize that that was rather specific information I had, and asked me how I knew.

I should have told him I was psychic.

By the way, the punctuation in the title for this post is the "correct" way to use a question mark with an ellipsis.

Sunday, February 8, 2009


"I used to be a cemetery teacher . . ."

-Part of someone's comment in church today