Friday, July 18, 2008

Why your dictionary won't help you here

After having spent the last month-plus in Europe, I have noticed that sometimes, even if you speak the language, there are things that just don't translate. For instance, in Madrid Molly and I amused ourselves by picking out t-shirts with English phrases written on them. It quickly became obvious that the wearer of these t-shirts had no idea what they actually said. My personal favorite read, Fuck me with the heart. Well, ok, but...what?

While in France I noticed that fun with not-quite-English words wasn't limited to t-shirts, but could in fact be found anywhere. For instance, in the category of business names that you would never, ever see in the U.S.:

Servix: Your friendly neighborhood locksmith, who wonders why so many Americans keep showing up for pelvic exams.

Hey baby, wanna cyber?

Nahh, that's like, so 1998.

Ok, well do you wanna...aquacyber?

Oooohhhh...Sounds like fun!

But the fun doesn't stop there. Restaurant menus with "English" translations can be a rich source of linguistic humor.

In case you weren't clear on the ingredients of the mussels plate, they are, in no particular order: mussels, mussels, mussels, and, oh yeah...mussels.

Care for some apple pie in your shrimp cocktail? I mean, I know the French are adventurous eaters, but this is ridiculous...

Further investigation into France's rich tradition of cultural mistranslations, linguistical slip-ups, and unintended double entendres will have to wait, as I find myself once again on American soil. But, my readers, whatever your country of residence, where do you find the silly in the serious?


  1. You're back????

    Welcome home!!!!

  2. The French, they are so strong, they have mussels everywhere.

    But what does one ... buy at the "Servix"?