Sunday, May 18, 2008

the turbot is ill-smelling

i have several excellent resources i use for translating my students' japanese into english, and this year i asked them to write down one word or phrase they would like to be able to say in english. the results i got were incredibly varied and interesting, some funny, some personal, and in the process of researching the best way to say them in english, i learned a ton.
one of those resources is an online translator widget by Systran. far from perfect, it at least helps me get a rough sense of long sentences, as it usually translates verb tenses correctly. however, occasionally the resulting english sentence is completely random and hilarious, hence the title of this post.
for those who care, my other resources are Jim Breen's invaluable and exhaustive online dictionary, this kanji dictionary for my Nintendo DS, and the internet at large.

now a sample of those things my high school students have a burning desire to say:
old-person smell
cumulus floccus cloud
rhinoceros beetle
three rolls of belly fat
once-in-a-lifetime encounter
when i close my eyes i can still see you on the back of my eyelids.

karei kusai
hitsuji gumo
kabuto mushi
ichigo ichie
meo tojireba mabuta no urani wa kimi ga iru.

definitely entertaining, and i have loads more to translate!
next are a few of the myriad things that have been making me snicker lately.

the worksheet awards:

generally japan is innocent to the history and implications of this statement.

a little too honest?

notice the last topic is food

a t-shirt in tokyo

the R/L distinction is a hard one for many japanese people, which is why this honey is for my yogult.

rain boots: manly condoms for your feet. grab your mandom!

this is my kitchen hand towel. normally placid rilakkuma (who is by definition relaxed) looks quite cross after an unintentional smudge of chocolate gave him a new eyebrow.

man i hate it when that happens! the last thing i need is a bunch of baby hands running around getting all grabby.

i don't know why, but i found this completely hilarious at the time. maybe they'll come in handy when my hand starts breeding again.

and finally, the most recent crack-up catalyst. bone marrow!? for invalids!? gross.


  1. AnonymousMay 18, 2008

    hahaha, i love and i hate grading worksheets for exactly that reason. 300 answers of "i want to buy a necktie for my father" and suddenly you are surprised for "i want to buy a ring for my honey"!


  2. I've just discovered your blog on the Ravelry Blogging group, and I love hearing about your life in Japan! I'm going to be reading every day, for sure!

  3. thanks, hannah! not that i can post every day, but i'll do my best. sounds like you're living my dream--i am also a painter and really want to do fashion design too. :) what medium do you use?

  4. can you send us some bone marrow cream? we'll pass on the finger sacks. love and misses. rocket

  5. love and misses to you guys too! will write you a letter eventually!