Thursday, 20 November 2008


Froog, the Boulevardier of Beijing, has some notes here on the wondrous things, in pronunciation or translation, that the Chinese can do with our language. My favourites among them both concern films: one of his students was eager to see Devon Cheese Cold (think D. Brown). Another didn't know the title of one he had seen, but crisply summarised its plot thus: "About a BIG sheep. She eat a piece of ice. Everybody die."

Some of the Chinglishisms he quotes do have a mad logic to them: the concept of "going Dutch" on a restaurant bill has become popular in China, but they have a different expression for it: AA. This mystified Froog, until online research established that some years ago a Chinese man searching for a convenient expression to use for this quaint new Western custom of splitting the bill at dinner tried to look up the English for equal shares, and found algebraic average.

This was almost as clever a computer translation as the one I have quoted before, which I found when I asked Google to give me an English version of a theatre review: leading lady in Spanish came out as bellwether in English. Brilliant!


Froog said...

Interesting definition, but I don't think it applies to me at all (alas). I think I'd prefer caniveauiste.

Yes, I get around a bit. But without any money to speak of, and mostly in places of very little class.

One of the things that gets you trapped in living in a developing country is the fact that you can live rather well on a tiny income.

Tony said...

Guttersnipe? Oh, come now.

Marc said...

Is the picture of the gentleman on the inset of the linked page supposed to be an example of a Boulevardier? Or is he a spokes model for Rachel Ray's Diet Works?

Tony said...

I can't be sure, Marc, because not being a keen viewer of US television I had never heard of Rachael Ray or her Works.