Laughs in translation

So when you write articles in English for the Web, a basic requirement is to speak English. I know, because I had to pass a test. Fair enough. Clearly, this is not true for everyone who feeds our cyber knowledge base.

Some things I read make me laugh out loud. I know if I was writing in any language other than my own (and I don’t get it right with my own much of the time!), I would struggle, so please understand this blog is for s***s and giggles, no big commentary or criticism intended. Sometimes, the information we get is just not quite on message.

I have recently started writing articles for an online content company. My friend, Mandy, who lives – poor thing! – in Mauritius and writes the fabulous Complete Cook Book Blog (check it out – it’s one classy blog and the recipes are just yummy), encouraged me to apply for this online writing job. Thanks, friend! So now I write articles on really random and arbitrary topics – it’s fun, it’s interesting doing the research and they pay me twice a week! So far, I have earned enough to pay the rent for the windowsill in our ensuite bathroom. A few more articles and pizzas are on me. For two.

My limited earning is because of two things: I’m not quite used to the format and structure of the articles  but when I am I’ll jolly well churn them out. The other reason is my current tendency to procrastinate and multi-task at the same time. I can’t explain. I just do it. I get loads done while I do absolutely nothing at all.

Anyway! Yesterday I was writing an article on how to create your own bouffant. I know, I’d always wondered too. My research took me to a site that contained this:

“The bouffant hairstyle was all the anger in the 1960s.”

Naturally, this captured my attention. I read on:

“… gather a little part of hair from the face of your head …”

“… fringe is best for hiding a large forehead …” and

“For summer season, most women prefer updo hairstyles because they do not want their hair sticking on their beck.”

(If you’re South African you’ll be giggling especially at that last one – bek is a pretty vulgar term for mouth. I guess it could be directly translated as gob.)

The other day, while researching Chinese beauty tips, I found these pearls of wisdom:

“Mix dry oatmeal and water until the paste is spread on her face.”

“Learn how to keep your ID number? Before going out to sunbathe, you know that drinking carrot juice.”

“… white tea has many antioxidants in them and are useful in helping to grow old before.”

So now you know.

When I took my elder son for an interview at a prospective high school, we were taken on a guided tour of the school, shown the impressive sports grounds, classroom facilities and reminded, at every turn, of the school’s proud tradition and history. It is one of the oldest schools in Cape Town, and we certainly got whiffs of a bygone era as we walked the wood-panelled corridors of boys’ school excellence. I guess we would have got a similar whiff had we been shown the bathrooms, but we didn’t go there.

Our enthusiastic young tour guide walked us towards the Principal’s office suite and stopped en route to show us the honours board that boasted a list of names that, sadly, was too long for my liking. He informed us, “These boards have the names of all the school’s old boys who lost their lives in World Wars 1, 2 and 3.” My son went to another high school.

A delightful lady worked for our family twice a week when we lived in Cape Town. One day she called me at work, in a bit of a tizz. I asked her what was wrong, and she said, “The hoover. She does not want to hoove.” I knew exactly what she meant.

My sister, as a cute-as-a-button little girl, once said, “Patience is a virgin.” Indeed.

When my younger son was a little boy, I sat him on my lap to tell him a long story about I don’t know what. He was kind of wriggly and restless in my lap, and kept looking at me to see if I was finished yet. When I got to the end of my words, he looked up at me with his beautiful big eyes and said, “Mom. It’s rude, when your Mom’s talking to you, to say shut up shut up shut up. Hey, Mom?”

Freudian or not, I hope that’s not what you, dear readers, are thinking right now!

Sunshine shutting up for today! Have a fab weekend!


27 thoughts on “Laughs in translation

  1. Thank you so much for the lovely mention 🙂 and your kind words.
    Soon my friend, you will be earning enough to pay for the neighbourhoods windowsills 😉
    Happy writing.
    Sunny Isle Maurice Love,
    🙂 Mandy

  2. That’s for the laugh – I was laughing so hard that the dog came to see what was wrong with me!

    I find the “most women prefer updo hairstyles because they do not want their hair sticking on their beck” comment quite appropriate. I have long hair, and mostly tie it up so I don’t get hair in my mouth all the time.

    1. When I read that instruction online yesterday, I laughed out loud! I was on my own and didn’t have anyone come and see what it was about! Glad you don’t get hair sticking on your bek or your beck! 🙂
      Sunshine xx

  3. Oh, and congrats on the part-time writing job. Know it’s not your ultimate job, but if it pays some bills and keeps you out of trouble, that’s good.

    I’m looking into doing some editing work online. I don’t write as well as you do, but I can usually see if somebody has written something badly.

  4. I love reading your blog every morning. You get me to smile SO BIG! Working in professional kitchens fo so many years, I have heard some pretty funny mis-translations of the English language. A fellow from Mexico kept referring to a co-worker as CARCEL, which is the Spanish word for JAIL. What was this girl’s name? JILL! 5 years later and I still think of that girl as Carcel.
    Congrats on your writing gig!

    Patty :>

  5. I cannot stop laughing at this post. The hooover–she will not hoove! Patience is a virgin! LOL! Brilliant.

    I know exactly what you mean about procrastinating and muli-tasking and getting everything and nothing done. That sums up my week quite nicely.

    Thanks so much for the Friday morning laugh! Have a happy weekend, Sunshine…

    1. Thank you, Maura! Glad you laughed – it’s a good way to start the weekend! I actually have plenty more where these came from, so watch this space!
      Enjoy your weekend – if you get round to it! 🙂
      Sunshine xx

  6. The English language can be so funny! A friend once had a cleaning lady from Zim who also left her a note explaining that the “House of York, she is broken”
    many hours later she realised it was the brand name fir the ironing board. Screech!
    Hopefully the day is just around the corner whereby the entire window with sill will be paid for and then eventualy more and more until you’ll be paying the entire rental.
    Have an awesome weekend!

  7. Bwahaha!!!
    The hoover doesn’t hoove!!
    My brother once told me that the battery in his toy car would no longer batt.
    More please.

  8. Lol, I did something like this for Demand Studio (ehow) and I couldn’t keep up with it after several weeks. I’m not good at research, though I wish I were! It’s so cool to do something like this from home though …


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