An Orphan in a Foggy City

I watched the film 'Lost in Translation' when it was first released, - who can resist Bill Murray and Scarlett Johansson?  The funny thing is - I didn't find it that funny, -it was too real.  This movie is precisely how life was in Tokyo, at least when I lived there and we all have own perception of what reality is.  So many wonderful characters, an eclectic mix of surreal situations against the background of Tokyo's neon cityscape.  When you land in a foreign city like Tokyo or Hong Kong one of the biggest assaults on your senses is the language, -both visually and audibly. How lost we are without our English?

Recently, I signed up for Chinese Mandarin language lessons, one hour a week for 10 weeks.  Don't worry, I had little expectation that one could master such an ancient language after so short a time.  It's just a language I've always been fascinated with.

My last lesson made me smile, -a few book titles 'popped up' during the usual banter with our tutor.  We should have been revising 'how to tell the time,'  instead we were discussing literal translations of Chinese Mandarin to English and how amusing they were.  A few riotous laughs erupted around the classroom.  

Here's a few book translations that had us laughing:
Charles Dicken's Oliver Twist translates to 'An Orphan in a Foggy City.'
Daphne DuMaurier's  - Rebecca transforms into 'Butterfly Dreams.'
Jane Austen's - Pride and Prejudice becomes 'Arrogant and Prejudice or as my tutor says (Preconceived Idea of Someone's character)

I also loved this sentence:  I want to go to the movies - translates to 'I want to see Electric Shadows'

And lastly, our humble P.C, Computer translates to 'Electric Brain.'

If you have any English Translations that make you smile, please feel free to share them.

A/N: What are you working on this weekend?  I'm super excited that we're getting our tree tomorrow - a tree decorating tea party is in order!  And, I will also dive into my revisions.  Happy Writing this weekend dear friends!


  1. I love "electric brain." LOL!

    I'm having my critique partners over for a Victorian Christmas tea. Can't wait! And I also plan to get some MAJOR writing done.

    Have a great weekend!

  2. I just want to sleep this weekend, am sorry am such a bore today. Hope u have fun with the tree and have some wine for me.

  3. I can't imagine how lost I'd feel landing in Tokyo or another city where the language was so foreign to me! Have a great tree decorating weekend! I've got a family Christmas party tomorrow, so I'm excited!

  4. Melissa, a Victorian Christmas tea for your critique partners sounds wonderful. I'm envious! *deep sigh* Good luck with your writing this weekend too!

    Jo, I shall some baubles on the tree for you and indulge in a few drinkies. Maybe mulled wine. Hope you get some R&R my dear. ;)

    Karen, glad you enjoyed. It was hilarious! I'm still smiling about the lesson even now. ;)

    Meredith, Tokyo is very foreign but once you stay there a while, you get used to it. Now, if I visit, it feels like my second home. Wierd. ;) Enjoy your family Christmas party, you're making me nostalgic for home. Enjoy!! x

  5. My son lived in Tokyo for two years and was always sending home photos of strange translations of English phrases. And now I can't think of any of them, but they were pretty cute at the time!

  6. You lead a truly exciting life. You let no grass grow under your feet. I can always feel the zest in your posts. You'll never regret it when you're my age. I'd hate to look back on my life and say, "Gee, I wish I had...... " Nope. Just do it when you can, Sweet Talei.

  7. Oh I just love "electric shadows" for the movies.

    Thanks for sharing Talei. I admire you for tackling Mandarin, even only on the surface!


  8. Wow. That makes me want to have my novel's title translated. I wonder what it would be? I loved Butterfly Dreams. I almost know what they are.

  9. On the other hand we have Cantonese speaking neighbours and the woman does not speak English. When she first came she acknowledged my father one morning - in Cantonese. He was recovering from knee surgery and came into me quite puzzled, "Shi asked me how my knee was but she didn't understand when I answered her."
    I had to explain that what sounded like "knee how?" to him is a greeting!

  10. Oh, that's so funny how a translation can change the meaning of a word or sentence so much.
    Good luck with your lessons!

  11. I love Mandarin, but it can be tricky to learn...

    Good luck. :-)

  12. I'm trying to learn Chinese Mandarin for homeschool right now--it's a lot of fun!

    Watch out for the pronunciation, though. :P

  13. I didn't think Lost In Translation was that funny either...but mostly because I expected an affair to crop up between the two...and I'm usually right about these things!

    Love those translations, I like to play with online translators going from English to Russian to German to something else before bringing it back to's usually pretty warped by then!

  14. Foreign language is just that for me - foreign.
    Understood enough to get through two years in high school, but that is about all - and to think that my aunt taught Mexicans to read and write Spanish.
    A couple of years ago I did take a couple of courses in Latin, yes Latin. Enjoyed it very much, but cannot say that I retained much. One of my kids is learning German, and the other one can converse a little in French.
    I am always amazed and impressed when others can pick up a language and remember it.
    So when you say you took Mandarin, I am very proud of you.

  15. KarenG, ah I love those signs and menus were always great for funny translations. ;)

    Manzanita, aw thank you dear lady! ;) It isn't so exciting but I wish we had more hours in the day, there's so much to do! Life really is too short, we should enjoy it while we can.

    Dominic, hello! I love the electric shadows too. It makes sense, no? ;)

    Mshatch, you should get it translated, it could put a whole other viewpoint on the story which is always interesting. ;)

    Cat, that's funny! what a coincidence your Dad had knee surgery, that would've been an interesting conversation. ;)

    Jennifer, thanks! that was my last one for awhile. Until I find time to do more, I shall practise on unsuspecting friends. ;)

    Misha, so true. Its difficult and you really need time, 10 weeks isn't long enough. Preferably a couple of years in China would be good. :D

    Golden Eagle, how cool! You must be good!! ;)

    Vicki, it was a good movie, l thought they might kiss a little and regret it, but I wasn't disappointed when they didn't. I think Sophia Coppola did a great job directing. The script was funny, the whisky adverts? ;) Love the translation tools too!

    Mya, oh you're so sweet. Thank you! ;) And I'm impressed with your Latin. Languages are great for kids too - a real icebreaker and easiest taught while young as they have no inhibitions about speaking it aloud. My little one is learning French now. I used to get funny looks with my Japanese, but as our tutor said to us in Mandarin - 'to learn Mandarin, you cannot be shy.' ie you cannot worry about what you look or sound like, you have to practice. Good advice! ;)

  16. How lucky you are to have been to Tokyo. It must be odd being in a country where you can't even read the street signs unless you know the language!

    You have the right attitude to learn a foreign language. Every week you'll make progress & that'll keep you learning even more.

    Electric brain -- I like that as it makes sense!


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