Banazîr the Jedi Hobbit (banazir) wrote,
Banazîr the Jedi Hobbit

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+3 Soft Drinks of Wax Tadpole Biting and Ancestor Resurrection

During the massforge meeting today, a chance remark by tmehlinger led to my showing him and thekuffs this page by crypthanatopsis, titled "All Your Base Is Belong To We". A demonstration of the havoc that ensues when comptranslation is applied to engrish, this page lists translations of "All Your Base Are Belong To Us" from the "original" English version of Zero Wing to various Italic languages plus German and their backtranslation into English.

As an interesting aside, there are a lot of phrases that either definitely don't have fixpoints under round-trip translation, or have horrific (and hilarious) fix points.

In any case, Tripitaka and I got to talking early this morning about the urban legends about product names and slogans in other languages. In particular, there is a persistent story that Coca-Cola was transliterated into something meaning "bite the wax tadpole". Now, one word for "bite" is ken3, to gnaw or chew; "wax" is la4; and "tadpole" is ke1 dou3. I've tried several times over the last 20 years to come up with any transliteration that even comes close, and I can't. Does anyone know what the exact transliteration (the Hanzi, or the Pinyin pronunciation with tonal inflections) is alleged to have been? Trip and I checked and found this article, but I can't produce any of the transliterations to which it alludes, save ke3 kou3 ke3 le4, the one depicted and the one Coca-Cola actually used. Literally, that's "allowing the mouth to be able to savor", as the Snopes page notes. (How the hell do you get from ke3 to "K'o", though?! If some of these transliterations turn out to be Cantonese, I'm going to be very annoyed.)

There's another unconfirmed urban legend that "Come Alive With Pepsi!" was translated into something to the effect of "Pepsi Brings Your Ancestors Back From the Dead". So far, my hypothesis is that both of these are apocryphal. People certainly like to embellish on them, e.g., turning "brings your ancestors back to life" to "brings your dead ancestors back from the grave".

Anyway, can anyone shed some light on these mysteries?
Also, does anyone have any funny translations to tell us about?
(If you haven't seen it before, here is "The Backstroke of the West", a page of SW Episode III Engrish subtitles.)

Tags: bite the wax tadpole, coca-cola, lost in translation, pepsi, slogans, urban legend

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