I'll have one Chicken Dump Truck and Blinfolded Ordinary on the side...
May 25, 2020 4:09 AM   Subscribe

Humorous mistranslationfilter, SLT - Twitter user @vladadraws had an appeal to her followers yesterday: "So my mother's friend's husband is stuck in a hotel in Saudi Arabia and this is the order menu they gave him, Do I have any Arabic speaking followers that can help make sense of this?" The Arabic-to-English translations on said menu are....unconventional.

She followed up, fortunately, and shared the partial translation a follower helped her to prepare. She notes that the traveler they were helping is still at the hotel "but is now less confused and hungry".
posted by EmpressCallipygos (38 comments total) 26 users marked this as a favorite
 
When I was working for a security company in Iraq, we bought a bunch of (supposed) handheld explosives trace detectors. One of the functions was a flashlight, so there was a button marked “LIGHT”. The vendor had helpfully put Arabic translations on the buttons as well, except they had clearly just run them through Google Translate, because the word they used meant “opposite of heavy” rather than “projecting photons”.

Every now and then, I still imagine someone pressing that button, hefting the device, and thinking Well, this fucking thing is already broken....
posted by Etrigan at 5:05 AM on May 25, 2020 [6 favorites]


It's a little like a non-illustrated version of Apple Cabin Foods.

I'm particularly curious about "Its loop is in Cornflex", which sounds... transcendental, somehow. Like a food you'd eat in a Philip K Dick novel when you're several layers off from reality and you don't care anymore.
posted by A Thousand Baited Hooks at 5:19 AM on May 25, 2020 [15 favorites]


These are obviously skills you can earn and level up in video games.

+1 metal suspicion
+2 accuracy of sheep meat
+1 normal doubt.

*These would also make for great MetaFilter usernames.*
posted by Fizz at 5:25 AM on May 25, 2020 [11 favorites]


Foul metal! \m/
posted by Pyrogenesis at 5:43 AM on May 25, 2020 [1 favorite]


There are times when you type LOL and you don't actually laugh out loud. This is not one of those times.
posted by tommasz at 6:05 AM on May 25, 2020


but she is suspicious of cheese
posted by lalochezia at 6:07 AM on May 25, 2020 [1 favorite]


Beans, gentlemen.
posted by tocts at 6:29 AM on May 25, 2020 [6 favorites]


I'll have one Chicken Dump Truck and Blinfolded Ordinary on the side...

The Royal Blindfolded is only one riyal more — why not treat yourself?
posted by ricochet biscuit at 6:41 AM on May 25, 2020 [9 favorites]


Oh god I needed this laugh.
posted by minervous at 7:17 AM on May 25, 2020




The comments seem blessedly free of the kind of point-and-laugh mocking this might have. There's a couple people who are discussing the "accuracy of meat" being translated to "minced beef" because "I think it's kind of like they heard the expression about not mincing words and how that means you should say what you mean instead of holding back? So that kinda actually makes sense." And it does!

I mean, clearly this was a translation done by someone with maybe a year or two of high school English or an English-to-Arabic dictionary going word by word, which is not the way to go about it. But hell, it's a mistake I made back in the day with a French penpal I had very briefly.

Language is awesome.
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 7:53 AM on May 25, 2020 [4 favorites]


Is a Regular Erika the latest permutation of a Basic Becky? I’m old and have trouble keeping current with the Twitter slang.
posted by Parasite Unseen at 8:05 AM on May 25, 2020


Regular Erika is Erika who's all hopped up on gogurt
posted by GCU Sweet and Full of Grace at 8:26 AM on May 25, 2020 [1 favorite]


I'm imagining Tom Waits singing this to the tune of "Eggs and Sausage."
posted by me3dia at 9:20 AM on May 25, 2020 [1 favorite]


as I commented elsewhere on this, I cannot even decide which of these should be my new band name. (Chicken Dump Truck just seems kind of obvious...)
posted by supermedusa at 9:38 AM on May 25, 2020 [1 favorite]


What about the numbers -- what can those mean?

Nevertheless, really great, Best of the Web -- thanks!
posted by Rash at 10:08 AM on May 25, 2020


A friend asked me what dish I would get. I thought I'd like "A regular Erika" but I'd probably end up with what I always get: "Worried."

I love that somebody sent the original poster their grandmother's shakshouka recipe. That added bit of niceness makes this whole thing next-level.
posted by fifteen schnitzengruben is my limit at 10:09 AM on May 25, 2020 [3 favorites]


Struggling to find the right conversion factor. How many Regular Erikas make up a Minimal Karen?
posted by HillbillyInBC at 10:15 AM on May 25, 2020


More accurate overlaid translation.

I love menus like this because of how they reveal standard food in an area. Like there are both sheep and camel liver on the menu.
posted by Mitheral at 11:24 AM on May 25, 2020 [1 favorite]


‘Not a problem’ is off today, but you get a free portion of ‘normal doubt’ with every order.
posted by Segundus at 11:32 AM on May 25, 2020


When in doubt in a situation like this, go with the "not a problem."

I mean unless it's just blatantly false advertising, at least you don't have a problem...
posted by Naberius at 12:19 PM on May 25, 2020


In Cairo I once saw a chalkboard in a restaurant with the special advertised in English: PIGEON with FREAK WHEAL. I asked the waiter what this was. He hesitated a half second as he assessed me and said, “If you’re not sure about the pigeon, you probably won’t enjoy the freak wheal.”
posted by ricochet biscuit at 12:43 PM on May 25, 2020 [27 favorites]


Maybe not quite in the same league but in Egypt I saw Chicken With Herpes on a menu. I did not order it.

There was also Stuffed Aborigines somewhere in Syria.
posted by the duck by the oboe at 3:12 PM on May 25, 2020


Aw. My grandfather used to have a menu of the day that was like this but the history was that the cooks in the (probably) oil camp in (probably) Saudi Arabia weren’t supposed to do overtly Christian things, but felt like doing a Christmas feast for the Westerners, but the Christians among the cooks were from a small town in Indonesia with a rich syncretic background. As my grandpa told it it was evident to the diners on the day that something important and secret was up and they could guess what but it took them days with nudging and mutual guesses to work it all out. He said it was a lot like being a kid and trying to express gratitude for a present you didn’t understand.

Definite good will towards men, though. I hope my mother still has the menu.
posted by clew at 3:40 PM on May 25, 2020 [2 favorites]


My favorite part of this is watching people try to nail down the precise linguistic failure modes underlying each of these. Per this commenter on Twitter, for instance:

"shakshooka" is a poached egg dish in a tomato sauce with a bunch of herbs
but "shak" means doubt
and "shookran" means thank you

so you end up with a list says:
normal (poached) doubt
metal (scrambled) doubt
cheese doubt
hummus thank you

somehow in the process, "metal doubt" became metal suspicion, and "cheese doubt" becomes "she is suspicious of cheese"

posted by eponym at 3:47 PM on May 25, 2020 [7 favorites]


Tag yourself. I'm Dumpling Thickness.
posted by His thoughts were red thoughts at 3:56 PM on May 25, 2020


“If you’re not sure about the pigeon, you probably won’t enjoy the freak wheal.”

I find this kind of exchange very frustrating. I didn't say I wasn't sure about it, I said I didn't know what it is! Your menu says "pigeon with freak wheal"... okay, so my best guess would be pigeon with freekeh? Apparently squab stuffed with freekeh (hamam mahshi) is an Egyptian specialty, so that would make sense? Or maybe it's something else entirely. How about you just tell me what it is, like I asked.

Tell me what something is and I might order it. Don't tell me what it is and I have to defensively assume that it includes one of the ingredients that give me severe digestive distress. You just lost a sale because you wouldn't explain what something means to an interested non-local.
posted by Lexica at 4:40 PM on May 25, 2020 [1 favorite]


lexica Years ago, living in a suburb south of San Francisco I went to a then well established eatery for Italian food (it was one of the "Joe's" for locals who might remember these) and asked the server that evening about one of the dishes listed on the menu simply as: Veal Saute. Completely deadpan, and without a touch of irony, he stated:

It's veal. Sauteed. In a sauce. Full stop.

Needless to say, I found something else to order.
posted by Insert Clever Name Here at 5:37 PM on May 25, 2020


And I guess my point was only that curiosity can be met with resistance almost anywhere in the world, in any language.
posted by Insert Clever Name Here at 5:40 PM on May 25, 2020


There was also Stuffed Aborigines somewhere in Syria.

I have both taught ESL and mangled many words in many other languages. I am 100% certain this is stuffed aubergines. If nothing else, Arabic orthography is more concerned with the consonants than the vowels and I strongly suspect an Arabic speaker would see the aB-R-G-N and read them as the same word. Certainly people make the same connections in their own first languages (for native English speakers, Mrs. Malaprop comes to mind).
posted by ricochet biscuit at 6:49 PM on May 25, 2020 [3 favorites]


I find this kind of exchange very frustrating.

Considering that the sign was badly translated into English, it seems likely that the waiter may not have been able to do any better.
posted by alexei at 7:26 PM on May 25, 2020 [1 favorite]


I’ve had a difficult weekend and this made me laugh so loudly I woke up my five-year-old, so thank you. I love that Janelle Shane responded, since it was the same helpless laughter her blog inspires. And I’m going to need a good recipe for massoub before my next grocery shopping trip. And I am definitely Accuracy of Sheep Meat.
posted by centrifugal at 10:28 PM on May 25, 2020


Reminds me of the latest Monster Factory, where they try another go at making an abomination in Dark Souls III, except all the labels on the character creation sliders have been run through multiple translations.
posted by Rhaomi at 11:17 PM on May 25, 2020 [1 favorite]


i'm actually kind of kicking myself that I didn't title this post "Beans, Gentlemen."
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 4:06 AM on May 26, 2020 [5 favorites]


I'm kind of impressed with how many different spellings of fūl/foul/whatever they came up with. You'd think they'd have picked one.
posted by nebulawindphone at 4:56 AM on May 26, 2020 [1 favorite]


"A period of cream"
posted by lathrop at 7:42 PM on May 26, 2020 [1 favorite]


"as I commented elsewhere on this, I cannot even decide which of these should be my new band name. (Chicken Dump Truck just seems kind of obvious...)" -- posted by supermedusa at 11:38 AM on May 25 [1 favorite −] Favorite added! [!]

20 or so years ago we were on a church trip and while driving past one of those turn around spots on the high way (you know for emergency vehicles), there was a Dump Truck. I think at first I didn't know what it was because I just saw something up there and was like "slow down, up ahead" My friend goes... "That's a dump truck, idiot." I go - never know... could be an... "Undercover Dump Truck" And for years we had joked about making that our band name.

Also - is "A period of cream" the time it takes to wait long enough before it becomes... "clotted cream".

And "She is Suspicious of Cheese" is my favorite fragrance.
posted by symbioid at 7:38 PM on May 27, 2020


"She is Suspicious of Cheese" is my favorite fragrance.

Not in this household.
posted by Exceptional_Hubris at 4:30 AM on May 28, 2020


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