Linguistic Quiz: Japanese-to-English Translation Gone Bad
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“The rough tea is easily boiled” -- Ishigaki, Okinawa, Japan -- Copyright 2009 Jeffrey Friedl,
Nikon D700 + Nikkor 24-70mm f/2.8 @ 70 mm — 1/125 sec, f/5.6, ISO 1000 — map & image datanearby photos
“The rough tea is easily boiled”

I mentioned in my previous post that our hotel on Ishigaki Island in the far south of Japan had only “okay” food. However, their food sometimes offered me, as an English speaker, a bit of extra entertainment.

The label above was on one of the items in the breakfast buffet. I redacted out the name of the dish in Japanese. Can you guess what the original Japanese was?

Here are two hints:

  • It was clear from my overall experience at the hotel that they used machine translation (that is, computer non-human translation) for their menus. One menu had “Popsicle” as the translation for what should have been “Pepsi-Cola”.
  • I understood the Japanese just as little as the English.

( Getting shots like this are why I bring my camera most everywhere 🙂 )

All 7 comments so far, oldest first...

LOL. My guess is that green tea was translated to unpolished tea with further degradation to rough tea.

— comment by Nelson Guzman on May 9th, 2009 at 1:52am JST (14 years, 7 months ago) comment permalink

Hard-boiled egg???

— comment by Bryce Lee on May 9th, 2009 at 7:27am JST (14 years, 7 months ago) comment permalink

My good wife suggests 番茶すぐ沸かせます (‘tea is available’)
Translating this back to English with Google Translate gives ‘Tingling’ll soon picked tea’
Using Babelfish gives ‘Turn brown it can boil immediately’

— comment by Tony Nelson on May 9th, 2009 at 4:50pm JST (14 years, 7 months ago) comment permalink

Wow, even reading the katakana I can’t figure out what this is supposed to say. I see the word for restaurant in there and that’s about it.

The text underneath the English is a generic label: “Theater & Buffet Restaurant – Lagoon” —Jeffery

— comment by Ash on May 10th, 2009 at 8:57am JST (14 years, 7 months ago) comment permalink

I’ll give a little hint: it’s a food dish, one I would normally associate with dinner, but in any case, it has nothing to do with tea or any other beverage.

— comment by Jeffrey Friedl on May 11th, 2009 at 10:14am JST (14 years, 7 months ago) comment permalink

I’m guessing “rough tea” is actually a food dish ending with “-ty” or “-ti” — maybe a pasta of some kind would also explain the “easily boiled”? Is there a ruffiti pasta?

— comment by Sam on May 12th, 2009 at 9:49am JST (14 years, 7 months ago) comment permalink

Aha —

So, South of Japan = Close to Okinawa. Many Okinawan dishes have interesting non-Nihongo-rashii names. So two moments ググリング, and lo! We have ラフティ, a.k.a. ‘rafute’ or Okinawan glazed pork, traditionally made with the side cut of pork used in the US and UK for streaky bacon. Linky linkies:“ラフティ”“rafute”

Mm mm, gimme some o’ dat bacon!


— Erik Anderson

PS — “Turn brown it can boil immediately” — Whee! Steaming turds, Batman! I love Babelfish. Have fun over at Carl Tashian’s “Lost in Translation” site: 😀

WE HAVE A WINNER! Here’s the followup post. —Jeffrey

— comment by Erik Anderson on May 12th, 2009 at 1:34pm JST (14 years, 7 months ago) comment permalink
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