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老外在中国:来杯冰凉清爽的“蝌蚪啃蜡”如何?

chinadaily.com.cn 2018-08-17 10:51

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We live in an age when there is a lot of talk about robots equipped with artificial intelligence taking over the jobs now performed by human beings.
在我们生活的时代中,有很多关于人工智能机器人接管当前由人类完成的工作的讨论。

Indeed, there have been many huge strides made in machines helping humans with daily tasks. Spell-checking programs help editors avoid typographical mistakes. Autopilot programs help pilots avoid “pilot error”, which can be fatal.
的确,在机器帮助人类完成日常事务方面,已经取得了巨大的进步。拼写检查程序能够帮助编辑避免排版错误。自动驾驶程序可以帮助飞行员避免致命的“驾驶错误”。

Still, computerized spell checks aren’t always good at detecting the incorrect use of a correctly spelled word. Airlines have had to retrain human pilots who became too dependent on having machines doing the flying — a dependence that can cause disaster.
不过,计算机拼写检查并非总能很好地检测出拼写正确的单词的错误用法。航空公司不得不重新培训过于依赖机器飞行的飞行员,此种依赖可能会造成灾难。

So, too, it goes with translation and interpretation, those most delicate of language arts.
而口笔译这门最为精妙的语言艺术也是如此。

It’s easy to make mistakes. When I was in a college summer program in Mexico, we used to laugh at English-speaking students who would use the word embarazada to mean embarrassed. It’s true that they sound alike. But what the students were saying was that they were pregnant.
翻译是很容易出错的。我在墨西哥参加大学暑期项目的时候,我们常常嘲笑说英语的学生,他们会用西语embarazada这个词来表示“尴尬”(embarrassed)。两者听起来的确很像。但学生们所说的是他们“怀孕”了。

When my wife and I went to dinner at a nice restaurant in Shanghai, I noticed with some discomfort that “husband” was on the menu. I never learned what exactly that was but, not wishing to tempt fate, I ordered something else.
记得我和妻子去上海一家美食餐厅吃饭时,我不安地发现“丈夫”出现在菜单上。我不知道那到底是什么,我不想冒不必要的险,于是点了别的东西。

No doubt we soon will move beyond the rudimentary apps and computer programs that help us bumble through communication with speakers of languages we don’t know well. The mistakes created using today’s programs are epic, and the risks are increased exponentially by slang or regional expressions.
不成熟的应用程序和计算机程序帮助我们使用自己不太懂的语言勉强交流。毫无疑问,我们很快就会对这些程序升级。当下的应用程序出现的翻译错误犹如史诗般壮观,而且俚语和方言表达将会使错误风险呈指数倍增。

Marketing is where translation can turn into hilarity or even failure for a business.
在销售领域,翻译可以成为笑料,或者甚至导致生意失败。

One example that has always given me a chuckle is Colgate, the name of a famous toothpaste produced by a US giant consumer products company, Colgate-Palmolive.
一直让我咯咯笑的例子是著名的高露洁牙膏,它由美国大型消费品公司高露洁棕榄生产。

The toothpaste is also marketed in Latin America, which for the most part raises no eyebrows. But in some parts of South America, especially in Argentina and Uruguay, a nonstandard verb form is used that turns the name of the toothpaste into “Go hang yourself”.
高露洁牙膏也在拉丁美洲市场销售,这里的绝大部分地区是不会出现问题。但是在南美洲的一些地区,尤其是阿根廷和乌拉圭,由于使用不标准的动词形式,使得牙膏的名字变成了“Go hang yourself(吊死自己)”。

The Coca-Cola Co explains on its website that when the company began selling their flagship soft drink in China in 1927, they found shopkeepers had used a variety of Chinese characters that sounded like the brand — without considering the meaning. One meant “female horse fastened with wax,” and another, “bite the wax tadpole”. A myth grew that the company had used those names, it says.
可口可乐公司在其网站上解释说,1927年,当公司开始在中国销售其招牌软饮时,他们发现店家们使用了和品牌名发音相似的各种汉字,并不考虑其含义。一种是“骒马扣蜡”,另一种是“蝌蚪啃蜡”。据称,可口可乐公司还曾使用了这些名字。

The company compromised a little on the phonetics and decided on Ke Kou Ke Le, which has the more pleasing meaning of “to permit the mouth to be able to rejoice” in Mandarin.
可口可乐公司在发音上做了点妥协,决定采用“可口可乐”,这四个字在普通话中表示“让嘴巴快乐”,含义更美好。

Inc.com contributing editor Geoffrey James compiled a list of some of the epic fails in global branding. Here are a few examples:
因科网站编辑杰弗雷•詹姆斯整理了一份有史以来最失败的品牌国际化清单。这里有几个例子:

•Clairol branded its curling iron for hair with the name Mist Stick in German, even though “mist” is German slang for manure.
克雷洛尔在德国用“Mist Stick”来命名电卷发器,而“mist”在德语俚语中表示肥料。

•Coors beer translated its Turn It Loose slogan into Spanish by using a colloquial term for having diarrhea.
库尔斯啤酒将其广告语“Turn It Loose(放松一下)”翻译为西班牙语,而其使用的一个口语词汇有腹泻之意。

•Mercedes-Benz entered the Chinese market using the homonym Bensi, meaning “rush to die”.
梅赛德斯-奔驰使用同音异义词“Bensi(奔死)”进入中国市场,意思是“奔赴死亡”。

•The slogan for Pepsi Cola, Pepsi Brings You Back to Life, was debuted in China as “Pepsi brings you back from the grave”.
百事可乐的口号“Pepsi Brings You Back to Life”,在中国首次亮相时被理解为“百事可乐把你从坟墓中带回来”。

•Nike had to recall thousands of shoes because a decoration meant to resemble fire on the back resembled the Arabic word for Allah.
耐克不得不召回成千上万双鞋子,因为鞋上一个代表火焰的装饰同阿拉伯语单词真主(Allah)相像。

James notes, however, that his list does not include what is often called the most famous translation blunder — that selling the Chevrolet Nova under that name in Spanish-speaking countries led to poor sales. (No va means “won’t go” in Spanish.) That’s because it didn’t happen. No va in Spanish is distinct from Nova, which retains its original Latin meaning of “suddenly bright star” in English and Spanish as one word.
然而,詹姆斯指出,他所列名单不包括通常被认为最著名的翻译失误——在西班牙语国家用“错误”译名销售雪佛兰新星汽车被认为会导致销量不佳。(在西班牙语中,No va的意思是“不会走”。)那是因为这个失误并不存在。西班牙语中No va与Nova有所不同,Nova保留了拉丁语最初的意思,即“突然闪亮的星星”,在英语和西班牙语中是一个词。

The fact-checking site Snopes says the Nova sold from 1972 to 1978 in Mexico and several other Spanish-speaking countries with no apparent problem.
事实查证网站Snopes表示,从1972年至1978年,Nova在墨西哥和其他一些西班牙语国家的销售没有明显问题。

Also, Mexico’s national oil company, Pemex, also has used the name in marketing gasoline.
此外,墨西哥国家石油公司也在汽油销售中使用了这个名字。

译者:李皓青(实习生)
审校:董静 丹妮
音频编辑:焦洁
来源:CHINA DAILY 微信公众号:

About the author & broadcaster

Matt Prichard is a copy editor and writer who works on the front page team of China Daily. He has lived in China for more than four years, in Shanghai and Beijing. Before that, he had a 30-year career as a reporter and editor in the United States and Latin America. He has an ABJ from the University of Georgia and did postgraduate work at the Universidad Nacional del Sur in Argentina. He speaks Spanish fluently and is still learning Mandarin.

Contact the writer at mattprichard@chinadaily.com.cn

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