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December 10, 2003

Bogus J-E Phrasebook Getting Tourists in Trouble

Yahoo!'s entertainment site carried a story last week about a bogus Japanese-to-English phrasebook that is getting tourists into a lot of trouble. The story sounds far-fetched but goes like this: every phrase in the book, which has reportedly sold more than 50,000 copies in the last year, is deliberately mistranslated. The garbled phrases have led to "blank stares, hysterical laughter or even brutal beatings." The result has been over 2,000 incidents reported to the Japanese embassy in the US. According to an embassy spokesman, "This is not a funny matter to us... Tourists have been found beaten to a pulp on street corners with this terrible phrase book still in their hands."

Examples given include the phrase 'Can you direct me to the rest room?' being translated as, 'Excuse me, may I caress your buttocks?' One of several incidents recounted in the article reads: A 29-year-old Tokyo man visiting San Francisco for the first time meant to ask a female store clerk, "May I please have film for my camera?" But what he actually said was, "Would you place your copious breasts in my mouth?" He was slapped in the face, then got tossed out by the manager.
Yahoo! Entertainment News & Gossip

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