Lost in Translation in Hangzhou – Keep Calm and Wander

Author: , November 16th, 2018

Lost in Translation in Hangzhou

“Welcome to the back!” proclaimed an English sign at the front door of a small Chinese restaurant in Hangzhou, a city in China, known for its West Lake. It was here where Marco Polo once sailed, mesmerized by its stunning beauty and declared the place in ancient times as “the most beautiful place in the world.”

Six exhausted backpackers from four countries and I, who all met in a hostel, froze for a moment in silence, as if trying to decipher one of China’s ancient, decrepit signboard. We exchanged quick glances, hoping one had a clue to share. We were pretty sure we were standing at the entrance, not the back, of the restaurant. Almost in unison, we quickly realized what the sign meant was, “Welcome back.” It’s one of those rampant translations gone wrong in Chinglish, a blend of Chinese and English.

With hunger excruciatingly creeping into our stomachs, we gave up looking for another restaurant. We’d been walking all day and we were so hungry we could eat a barrel of dumplings sans chopsticks.

Two ladies behind the reception desk smiled when we came in. One disappeared quickly to call someone from the kitchen. When we were all seated, the other waitress came with a kettle of tea and a vacuum flask of hot water. She carefully poured the hot water and tea alternately with impeccable skill. When she was done, she said something in Chinese and our jaws dropped. We understood not a single word. She looked at each one of our tired faces, hoping a single one of us could make sense of what she just said. Meeting our uncomprehending looks, she smiled sheepishly and left embarrassed.

By Alain – Full Story at Keep Calm and Wander

China Gay Travel Resources


Dolly Travels – Musings From a Frustrated Language Student

Author: , April 9th, 2015

Dolly Goolsby

Happy Easter, Everyone,

I do wish everyone a Happy Easter, but here I go with my frustrated comments.

Number One, before I even get into my frustration, let me say, I am trying my best to learn some important words in French. The one thing I have learned is that the French language uses far too many letters in each word. I wish I could tell someone (someone who would listen to me) that we need to be more conservative. May we, please, (S’il vous plait). Drop the “l”, the “s” and the “t”, and you have “See vu play”. Can we not just use the letters we need? For goodness sake!

For instance, the phrase in the subject, “joyeuses Paques ” means “Happy Easter” but it is pronounced, “joyous pac”. See what I mean? All those vowels absolutely wasted. Here is another: “un bon vin blanc”. That not only is confusing, because one would drop the last letter from each word, when speaking…but now…vin, I understand, but it is pronounced “Van” as in moving van, but drop the N. So the entire phrase is pronounced thus : “oo bo va blan”. Seriously?

Yes, that is not all….if a word ends in an “n” or an “m”, that letter is never pronounced. In fact, most of the ending letters in a word are not pronounced…that just doesn’t make sense to me. I have struggled for several years trying to learn Italian, but I want to say here, the Italian language is a piece of cake, compared to French. I do believe my Italian will improve by spending this month in Paris. I keep comparing words in French to the same word in Italian. Both languages are what are called Romance languages, as is Spanish. That doesn’t refer to romance, as we think of romance, but rather, these are languages that are derived from the Romans, with a Latin base. Therefore, many words in all three languages are very similar, some are exactly the same,

I am being a bit facetious here, but I am trying very hard to say the right thing in French when I need to converse with a waiter or a shopkeeper. I try to think how confused I can be, in the United States, trying to speak with an immigrant from another country. The French people thatI have encountered, have been very patient. If they laugh, they laugh with us, not at us. The Romantic languages are so beautiful to hear, until one hears the language being murdered by an American.

Therefore, I will continue to try to learn the important phrases, and also try not to cause a waiter to commit homicide.

Until then, the most important phrase I can remember, and say it often, is “Do you speak English?”

Au revoir, until next time,


By Dolly Goolsby – Full Story at Dolly Travels | Paris Gay Travel Resources