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Chinese characters on a T-Shirt
Thread poster: LegalTransform

LegalTransform  Identity Verified
United States
Local time: 20:39
Member (2002)
Spanish to English
+ ...
Oct 17, 2005

I have been given a gift certificate to a site that sells (among other things) T-shirts in Japanese.

A Japanese translation is provided for this shirt, but I was wondering how a Chinese-speaker (without knowledge of Japanese)would interpret these characters:

http://www.thinkgeek.com/tshirts/japanese/74b1/


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Wenjer Leuschel  Identity Verified
Taiwan
Local time: 08:39
English to Chinese
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Ghost-Beast-Rice-Soldier Oct 17, 2005

Those are the corresponding words for the four characters on the T-Shirt. It is almost impossible to interpret them without knowledge of Japanese language.

Ghost(s)-Beast(s): Devil(s) or devil's helper

Rice-Soldier(s): American soldier(s)


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LegalTransform  Identity Verified
United States
Local time: 20:39
Member (2002)
Spanish to English
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TOPIC STARTER
Chinese characters on a T-shirt Oct 17, 2005

Thanks.

I would not wear this shirt myself, but if you did, would a Chinese person think you were ridiculous or just assume this was Japanese?

Clothing with Chinese/Japanese characters is very popular here in the US (and assuming that the characters actually do mean something in either Chinese or Japanese and are not just jibberish as frequently happens in Japan with English: http://www.engrish.com/ ), you can never be sure whether or not you are wearing something that might be offensive/ridiculous to the other language.


Wenjer Leuschel wrote:

Those are the corresponding words for the four characters on the T-Shirt. It is almost impossible to interpret them without knowledge of Japanese language.

Ghost(s)-Beast(s): Devil(s) or devil's helper

Rice-Soldier(s): American soldier(s)


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LegalTransform  Identity Verified
United States
Local time: 20:39
Member (2002)
Spanish to English
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Chinese characters on a T-Shirt Oct 17, 2005

Clothing in Japan with English words:
http://www.engrish.com/category_index.php?category=Clothing


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Wenjer Leuschel  Identity Verified
Taiwan
Local time: 08:39
English to Chinese
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Different perception Oct 17, 2005

For a Chinese who doesn't know anything about Japanese, the combination of those four characters wouldn't mean anything other than "Ghost-Beast(Animal)-Rice-Soldier" which is nothing but four Chinese characters put together. But when a Japanese meets an American wearing such a T-Shirt, he would find it just as cute as when you hear an Afro-American calling his brother a nigger.

P.S. Mother's Meat Plaza? Something like Lolex made in Asia?

[Edited at 2005-10-18 05:45]


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Jianjun Zhang  Identity Verified
United Kingdom
Local time: 01:39
English to Chinese
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Interesting Oct 17, 2005

Jeff Whittaker wrote:

I have been given a gift certificate to a site that sells (among other things) T-shirts in Japanese.

A Japanese translation is provided for this shirt, but I was wondering how a Chinese-speaker (without knowledge of Japanese)would interpret these characters:

http://www.thinkgeek.com/tshirts/japanese/74b1/


Hi Jeff,

It's interesting to see the site selling a T-shirt like this. As Wenjer suggested, a Chinese who doesn't know any Japanese won't understand the meaning of those characters put together. If I met somebody wearing this T-shirt, this design won't get me to think about it at all. I simply would ignore the design. So you see, no visual impact.

The last two characters (second line) are important. In Japanese, I know they use 米 to transliterate America, so the US would be 米國, and they seem to use 兵 to mean Army, while in China we use 军. So if we replace 米兵 (American Army in Japanese use of Chinese characters) with 美军(American Army in Chinese)This T surely will catch somebody's eyes. However, the first two characters are still not clear. Maybe we could replace the second character of first line with 子,a word without actual meaning on its own in this case. So everybody would get some meaning from it - Ghost American Army. But this word order in Chinese would be ungrammatical. Let's change the order so it reads 美军鬼子(American Army Ghost). Now, it doesn't sound natural in Chinese. So we have to change it once more to read 美国鬼子(American Ghost or Devil). And I think this is the meaning equivalent to 鬼畜米兵 in Japanese (preserving visual impact and meaning).

If I saw some American wearing a T with 美国鬼子, or a Japanese wearing a T with 日本鬼子(Japanese Devil), I would think it bizarre and the guy stupid. Since those words were used to refer to the American soldiers or Japanese soldiers when they were enemies of China, I would think this guy didn't know what he were wearing. Or somebody might have played a trick on him.

As to the T with English words, lots of people in China wear them without knowing what's on. I saw dirty words on T shirts wearing by my students. And a girl wore a T-shirt with "Please Do Me!" with a list of ways. Such as Please ... me, etc. I told her to throw that away the first day she wore it to school without much explanation. I saw a woman on the street wearing a T saying, "I'm Junk." I think this is stupid. What I want to say is these T designs maybe OK in the US, but in China, nobody will wear them if they know the real meaning behind.

[Edited at 2005-10-17 21:10]


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Kevin Yang  Identity Verified
Local time: 17:39
Member (2003)
English to Chinese
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Let's be more sensitive. Oct 18, 2005

Wenjer,

Your example about the Afro-American made me very uncomfortable. I do not think you used an approriate example. Please revise it and use something else to make your point. I will appreciate it if you can understand my suggestion and be more sensitive about such matter.

Thanks!

Kevin

[Edited at 2005-10-18 00:18]


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Wenjer Leuschel  Identity Verified
Taiwan
Local time: 08:39
English to Chinese
+ ...
台客風波 Oct 18, 2005

Hi Kevin,

Take it easy. Don't worry about the example. Calling oneself or one's like a "nigger" is something quite "in," if I am not misled by one of the legislators in Taiwan, 雷倩, who studied in the USA and who maintains, as openly shown on the TV, that 台客 is something just as cute as "nigger" when the people who are called that way use the name to call themselves. Well, I believe her because it's kind of self-defence to self-ridicule.

In Latin America, people call a Chinese "Chino, cochino!" (Chinese, dirty one!) I used to make fun out of it by replying, "Chino, cochino - tan gente!" (Chinese, dirty one - good guy! It sounds like: Sine, cosine - tangent!)

Some of the school kids used to call my daughters "China!" You see, the word "chinita" sounds okey, but "China!" sounds nokey in Spanish. My daughters were annoyed by that. After that I told them a lot of my experiences and after that they grew up a bit, they start to call themselves "shinisi" when other kids call them "China!" Believe me, my daughters put the nickname "Shinisi" on their MSN IDs!

I am who I know I am, no matter people call me a 台客 or whatever. Roses smell just as well even when people call them by another name. People, just like Chinese, know how to defend themselves. Don't worry about it, Kevin.

Wenjer

[Edited at 2005-10-21 21:22]


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Angus Woo
Local time: 08:39
Chinese to English
+ ...
American soldiers Oct 20, 2005

First of all, I don't know much about Japanese. But the message on that T-shirt probably means

鬼番(魔鬼/野獸)
米兵(美國兵) 米國(美國)

The beast-like/devil-like American soldier.

I personally don't think it's a good idea to wear it, especially when you walking down the street in any of Japanese enclaves in north America. Somebody there just might understand what it is saying and may not be too happy with it.





[Edited at 2005-10-23 07:01]


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