Sunday, 16th April '06
You know how I've always said that they teach us Chinese all wrong in Singapore? They teach us to memorise a bazillion 成语 and 谚语 and write hopelessly soppy 抒情文. But they never teach us anything that we can use in real life (words like "common law" and "civil law" and "legal accounting" come to mind, predominantly because of my strained conversations with my PRC classmate). I swear, if they had given me stuff like what follows below to study, I would have aced the class.
In any case, I was wasting time surfing China's Amazon branch (www.joyo.com - who the heck knows why it's called that) looking for album art to prettify my iTunes library. I was looking for the cover to Daniel Chan's "感觉贴心" album - which is a much harder task than you'd think. And that's when I came across one of the Michael Learns to Rock albums.
Would you BELIEVE the Chinese name for MLTR is "迈克学摇滚"?!?
For the non-speakers, this really just translates to: "Mai Ke learn shake roll". I suppose rock and roll could be approximated to shake and roll... *sigh*. As I told Dre... my expressing was literally: sleepy. I mean, I appreciate the beauty of literal translations, but this is ridiculous!
Of course, now that I'm reading the tax implications for Registered Retirement Savings Plans, it makes so much more fun (if not sense) to go back to joyo.com and see what other pathetic translations I can get of other pop culture celebrities.
Here are some other gems. They're TRUE, I didn't make them up. You can search 'em yourself.
WHAT is the world coming to???
Backstreet Boys = 后街男孩 ("behind alley male children")
-- I dunno about you, but the BSB have never sounded so seedy.
The Vines = 番仔乐队 ("turn small guy happy team")
The Foo Fighters = 喷火战机 ("fire-spitting battle machine")
-- Now which hat'd they pull the fire-spitting part out of?
Queen = 皇后合唱团 ("empress sing-together troupe")
Westlife = 西城男孩 ("west city male children")
NSync= 超级男防 ("super male side")
-- I don't know why they even bothered. plain
Take That = 接招合唱团
-- AHAHAHAHA... this has to be the best one. It's like a return to the kungfu, swordfighting ages. It REALLY means "Take That" in the fighting sense of it. Like: En Garde!
Atomic Kitten = 原子少女猫 ("atom young girl cats")
Green Day = 青葱岁月 ("verdent year month")
-- Ironically, every measure of time except the "day".
No Doubt = 无疑乐队 ("void of suspicion happy team")
The Smashing Pumpkins = 碎瓜乐队 ("fragmented melon happy team")
-- Tell me how the Smashing Pumpkins sound like a "happy team" to you?
Garbage = 废料乐队 ("waste type happy team")
-- Oh, NIX ON THE HAPPY TEAM ALREADY!
Nothing But a G-Thing = 只是个"G"的东西
-- That's a Dr Dre song, by the way. Hilarious translation, I can't even bring myself to say anything about how lame it is.
Linkin Park = 林肯公园 ("lincoln garden")
Simple Plan = 简单计划乐队 ("easy tactic happy team")
-- One more "happy team" and somebody's gonna get a-hurt real bad.
Hanson = 汉森乐队 ("Han Shen happy team")
-- I tell you, even for a name that's a pure SOUND thing they have to go and put in a "happy team".
Spice Girls = 辣妹合唱团 ("hot babes sing-together troupe")
The Cardigans = 羊毛衫合唱团 ("sheep wool shirt sing-together troupe")
-- HAHHAHA. What a GORGEOUS bastardization of a halfway-decent name. Sorry David, looks like the Chinese aren't feeling kind to the Swedes.
I then went on to search the next group because I had a sneaking suspicion about how the translations might turn out. Seems I was right, there IS a pattern to this madness:
Suede = 山羊皮乐队 ("mountain goat hide happy team")
-- Ohhohoho. I can see Qiong getting mad now.
Boyzone = 男孩特区合唱团 ("male children special region sing-together troupe")
-- I'm not even going to THINK about Ronan Keating's special region. crying Worse, Steven Gately's.
Black Eyed Peas = 黑烟豆豆 ("black smoke bean bean")
-- One acronym: WTF? I suspect the problem here is that "眼" (eye: yan3) "烟" (smoke: yan1) sound too much alike for the American publicity reps to get it right.
Coldplay = 酷玩乐团 ("cool play happy troupe")
-- This is just stupid. 酷 doesn't even mean "cool" in the temperature sense. It means "cool" in the hip and happening sense. Geez.
Eminem = 阿姆
-- No shit. I can so see him writing an angry rap about this. It's completely untranslatable.
Outkast = 流浪者合唱团 ("vagabond sing-together troupe")
-- How is this even supposed to make any sense?
Sugar Ray = 甜蜜射线乐队 ("sweet shoot line happy team")
-- Oh my.
Matchbox 20 = 火柴盒20乐队 ("matchbox 20 happy team")
-- What I really don't get is this: when they have a perfectly translatable name that's really just an OBJECT (and therefore fully and easily translatable without any worry about context and connotations), is there some unwritten law of the universe that dictates they add a "happy team" at the end of it?
Ok, I should get going. I really wasn't intended to go on this long, but it had to be done. Just proves the PRCs can't leave well enough alone. Too bad they have such mainstream, poppy taste though. It's proven impossible to get some really potentially outrageous translations (I was looking for things like Blessed Union of Soul, Theory of a Deadman, Sixpence None the Richer etc.).
Oh well. Worth a laugh.
[10 photographs developed.]
Sugar Ray = 甜蜜射线乐队 ("sweet shoot line happy team"
Never thought of them that way...
muahhaha i lurve this! chinese is damn funny..i reckon it's from taiwanese though... cos from my knowledge of my taiwanese friends they come up with 'cutesy' things like that.. why couldnt they call green day 'qing tian' though.. and what will they call 'counting crows' hahahhaha
cough. the "ÀÖ" in "ÀÖ¶Ó" is pronounced as yue4, not le4 mah... so not exactly "happy team" right?
my dear en. as it is that is YUE DUI lah. means band. happy team your head lah *ROTFLMAO* *sigh* you obviously don't listen to enough chinese music *lol*
i knew about the suede one a long time ago. it's ridiculous *nod* haha. but my fave still has to be the take that one *ROTFLMAO*
haha oh and a side note, 'yao2 gun3' means rock and roll. not shake roll hahaha.
you learn things like that when you listen to mayday 24/7 haha.
yes, a lot of them are ridiculous, but you do make them a lot more ridiculous by translating word by word instead of, er, by phrase -- as pointed out already. But I shan't stick my foot in it anymore, goodness knows I haven't the right
wah, giving pple a chance to criticize my chinese draws a hell of a lot more responses. i know what to do in the future. heehee. but replies now:
yue dui as in "music team"? HAHAHAHA. NOW that makes a bit more sense! whoo. i can't believe that didn't even OCCUR to me! but i like happy team. gives me more to whinge about. i also refuse to use "band" because that makes it not funny anymore. you have to grant me my poetic licences.
since when did i EVER listen to chinese music. the only chinese music i listen to involves wang lee hom who is suspect is bl-inese properly and jay chou who... ditto that.
and yao2gun3 OF COURSE means rock and roll lah - i did mention that. but the point is: gun3 is obviously "roll" in the most literal, but yao2 is NOT "rock". the very word "rock" is an english term that has no chinese equivalent, which then makes it funny because we took an inherently western concept and tried to give it a chinese name: like please don't tell me that "rock music" is called "yao2 yin1 yue4". i will piss myself laughing. i'm not denying that that's how it's really said - i'm commenting on the absurdity of it. the same way i complain about "general tao chicken" and all other awful names that the westerners try to give chinese things.
on the word for words: it's ONLY fun when you translate it word for word mah. if translate by phrase it's not fun anymore! it would actually make sense, which would not be very amusing... which would ruin the point of this exercise. the point, btw, being to say that things SHOULD NOT BE TRANSLATED. heaven knows if you want to listen to english music you should do it in ENGLISH. it's equally bad in reverse (like how shuang1 tian1 zhi4 zun1 = the unbeatables.)
*shall go look for more funny shit*