Wednesday, September 20, 2006

Lost in Translation

The other day I was discussing a common Hungarian birthday tradition of "pulling the birthday person's ear" with a couple of my labmates. It was a tradition I had grown up with and they wanted to know more about this tradition. Sadly, I could not provide them with more information, so, we got onto our favorite information source, the internet!

Although we could not find the origins of this tradition, we came across a blog that listed some various Hungarian traditions and customs. As I was reading down the list, one of my labmates (who was much further down the list) mentioned that he hoped that the one he was reading was a translational error. My other labmate who was also further down the list mentioned that it would probably cause him to get arrested in the U.S. if he tried that one. Of course my curiosity was piqued, and I kept reading down the list until I finally came to the one they were referring to:

Touch your knob, if you see a chimney sweeper, it brings luck.

Oh my!!!! The mental image this one produced! I could not stop laughing for I think about a total of five straight minutes. Of course, my stomach just ached from that much laughter. Of course my fellow labmates were laughing just as much as I was at that point. We discussed the fact that most likely someone had not properly translated and something had been, as the proverbial, lost in translation. Or in this case, something was gained in translation. And not a good thing either.

So, I went home that evening and consulted my English/Hungarian dictionary, and sure enough, I found the error.

Knob can be translated into gomb. However, gomb usually means button. Most likely the error occurred when someone translated gomb directly into knob.

So, if I may, I would like to warn, when translating from other languages, please, please, check and double check for the nuances of the words! Otherwise, it can produce some very interesting mental images. Or even worse, someone may even try that!

Considering I am of Hungarian descent, I must say that I did have a bit of explaining to do...

2 Comments:

Blogger High Desert Diva said...

Tee hee hee

You guys certainly know how to make lab fun. ;D

...and X-rated...caressing each other's ears, bumping knobs...

KIDDING! ;P

Thursday, September 21, 2006 8:24:00 AM  
Blogger Fat Pants said...

Button is just as funny as knob if yu have a mind like I do.

Thursday, September 21, 2006 9:48:00 AM  

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