No wonder people think kids in China ride pandas to school. There are so many things that get lost in translation. Once I was in a zoo in China and instead of saying “beware of old branches falling”, it said, “beware of old bras falling”. Instead of “caution: slippery floors”, the sign said, “caution: slip carefully”.
Many cultural things get lost in translation too. In China, when you offer to help someone and they say “no need, no need to trouble you”, what they are really saying is “Thank you so much. I appreciate your friendship but I feel bad about it.” When they ask you “Why are you eating so little?” after you already emptied two bowls of rice what they are trying to say is “We are honored to have you as our guest today. This is the best we have to offer. I hope you like it and accept them all!”
Being lost in translation is also a global problem. In the news when people hear about shootings in America, they hear “America is not safe and are not a place for people like you”, and they forget about how the melting pot is America’s long-standing symbol of inclusivity. When people hear about the terrorist attacks in the Middle East, they hear the message “This is a dangerous place with unwelcoming people who kill without rhyme or reason” instead of realizing what tragedy it is for such hospitable people to be trapped between politics and global apathy. So many things have been lost in translation. This is why we must travel, understand the language, and get to know the people. Only then will you understand that “Mao blood flourishing” is not something gross but actually a pot bursting with flavor from simmered spices, hot oil, cooked with tender cow delicacies sprinkled with green parsley, onions, and a little love”.