2006/12/06

WWIII Will Start Like This....

It seemed a simple task. The weather grows colder now, with highs around 12C (54F) and frost on the ground in the morning. I needed a new pair of long underwear, which the Japanese call "innerwear" (kind of odd when some girls wear innerwear outside regular clothes as a fashion statement, which in the biz is called "underwear as outer wear", but which the Panda calls "slut wear". Whatever. And why do we all call pants a "pair" when they are cleary one piece? There are so many confusing elements to this story.

I found an inexpensive pair (one) at the local hardware store. I am now used to Japanese products carrying odd English names as I discussed in my post "Word Play - Lemons and Boobus". However, this product was made in China, so I'm not sure who screwed up the translation or choice of name. Logic would dictate that they meant to include the term "warm" in the name, but somehow ended up printing the word "worm" instead. What they really meant (I hope) is "Warm Fit". Why attempt to use English on a label for product sold in Japan in the first place? Well, I suppose it makes it look "international" and satisfies some fadish impulse. Sigh. Anyway, they ended up calling it "Fit Worm".

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So, I am now wearing "Fit Worm" long underwear. At the bottom of the package it says "worm men's inner". No futher comment from me on the possible meaning. I really don't want to go there, OK?

World War Three will no doubt start this way; an attempt to translate some innocuous phrase from one language to another will go awry. Not hard to imagine when the "leader" of the most powerful and weaponized country on earth cannot even express himself clearly in his native language.

I'd feel a lot more comfortable - both in terms of my underwear and international relations - if people just expressed themselves and labelled their products in their own languages. Some things - like nukes and underwear - don't really require translation, and those that do should be left to the experts.

6 comments:

The Moody Minstrel said...

Misspelling "warm" as "worm" has always been extremely common among Japanese students of English, so I imagine it must happen a lot elsewhere, too. After all, from a phonetic standpoint, "worm" makes mare sense than "warm", whose spelling was taken directly from the German, but whose pronunciation changed. (In German it's spelled the same but pronounced "vahrm".)

Speaking of disastrous linguistic coincidences, have you ever read A Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy ? The main character, Arthur Dent, says, "I am having serious problems with my lifestyle." At that very moment, a freak of science causes that statement to be transported through time and space so that it is heard during a peace conference between two alien races. Coincidentally, it sounds just like the worst possible insult in the language of one of the two races. The result is a long, disastrous war.

After the war ends, the alien scientists figure out the true source of the alleged insult and send a huge warfleet to Earth to get revenge. Unfortunately, when they arrive, there is a bit of a problem with scale, and the entire warfleet winds up being accidentally swallowed by a small dog.

Douglas Adams was truly remarkable.

Pandabonium said...

So, that's why BMW motorcycles go "vahrm, vahrm".

Hitchhiker's Guide - I didn't think of that, but it was no doubt lurking in my sub-conscious when I wrote the post.

Don Snabulus said...

perzdint Bish: gunna fight turra, defeat turrists, sport the trips oversis, never flinch, kip murrica strong. Some would like to cut n ron, but most murcans fight turra. We wool pervale.

Thankee.

Pandabonium said...

I think he's got his Fit Worm in a knot.

Martin J Frid said...

George Worm Bush? Now his UN Ambassador even made a verb out of his last name and "Bolt-ed". Rumsfelt? Too easy to make a joke about that name..

Robin said...

Fit worm... quite appropriate.

I have heard "IT" being called many terms, banana, dick, stick, rod, fish,,, and now "worm"..

haha...