Wednesday, November 19 2008

Smoked visitor

Smoked Visitor
[via EngrishFunny.com]

The sign reads:

 〜 喫煙されるお客様へ 〜
構内禁煙になっております、
の喫煙コーナーでお願いします

Literally translated, it says: “To respected customers who (honorably) smoke tobacco: the premises have humbly become non-smoking, we request (you do it) at the outside smoking corner”.

The English translation is broken in a number of ways, but the most interesting part is “smoked visitor”, because it demonstrates that the translator wasn’t fluent in Japanese. The verb conjugation sareru is the passive form of suru, “to do”, so the first line really does say, “to visitors who are smoked”, but no one who speaks Japanese would interpret it that way. The context makes it painfully clear that this is the passive honorific form, and the honored visitor is the smoker, not the smokee.

So, we have a translation done by someone who doesn’t speak English or Japanese, better known as a computer. Without knowing how long ago the sign was made, it’s impossible to determine which software, but here are some modern attempts.

Babelfish (and anything else based on SYSTRAN, including Apple’s translation widget) produces something that’s almost English:

- To the customer who smokes -
the enclosure we have become prohibition of smoking,
we ask with the smoking corner outside.

Google’s attempt is poetic, but incomprehensible:

Smoking to be one of your
Smoking is on the premises,
In the smoking area outside.

Reverso, one I’d never heard of before, gives something that looks quite familiar:

I ask a smoked visitor for the yard at the outside smoking corner that smoking is prohibited in.

Paralink’s translator offers a nice contradiction:

Customers will be smoking on campus is a non-smoking, smoking outside corner.

Windows Live thinks different:

and smoking that is customer to premises smoking and: on the outside smoking corner in.

The Japanese site OCN has an interesting answer:

Premises at the outside smoking
area which becomes no smoking
to the customer who smokes, please.

Another Japanese site, @Nifty, gives this:

- Visitor smoked -
please give me premises in the outer smoking corner which is giving up smoking.

I won’t dignify Animelab’s web form with the term “translator”, but they give a link to Excite, which produced this:

?To the customer from whom it smokes?
I hope premises in the smoking corner of the outside that is no
smoking.