Talk Translate: "I want to take iron"

Turns out she wanted a latte.

How does that work? Even as a loan word, it doesn’t quite make sense.

It works as 拿鐵 (Ná tiě) sounds a bit like Latte

It doesn’t have much to do with loan words or anything like that. I know a few people who do that and I am guilty myself. If we are in a group of people and someone says something stupid we’ll say no 9. mei2 jiu3. The jiu4 means there’s no help. I can think of a few examples. Don’t over think it. It has nothing to do with language ability or misunderstanding.

There is no scarcity of amusing (mainland) Chinese menus that translate things oh-so-literally. Always good for kicks.

:“Have you got any Viagra”? maybe

How can it not have anything to do with loanwords? This is ALL about loanwords, considering that the actual Chinese word for “latte” is 拿鐵, which literally means “take iron”. Pretty straightforward.

I do have a group of friends who habitually say “complete bamboo in the chest” and other literal translations of Chinese chengyu (and they don’t speak Chinese, either; this is possibly my greatest accomplishment, polluting their minds like that!) They also use the “famous” English expression “It’s all the same banana” all the time (that came from a professor of English at TaiDa who had included it in a book of “common” English expressions, every 2 out of 3 of which had to be discarded because no native English speaker on the planet had ever heard of them). But that isn’t the same thing – they were taught those expressions and just thought they were funny, as opposed to doing the very logical thing and translating the native language using a dictionary, not realizing that the word had been parsed incorrectly.

Hold your horses – I have defs heard “it’s all the same banana” before! I’m scratching my head trying to figure out what “complete bamboo in the chest” is in Chinese, though.

complete bamboo in the chest = 胸有成竹

How can it not have anything to do with loanwords? This is ALL about loanwords, considering that the actual Chinese word for “latte” is 拿鐵, which literally means “take iron”. Pretty straightforward.

I do have a group of friends who habitually say “complete bamboo in the chest” and other literal translations of Chinese chengyu (and they don’t speak Chinese, either; this is possibly my greatest accomplishment, polluting their minds like that!) They also use the “famous” English expression “It’s all the same banana” all the time (that came from a professor of English at Tai-Da who had included it in a book of “common” English expressions, every 2 out of 3 of which had to be discarded because no native English speaker on the planet had ever heard of them). But that isn’t the same thing – they were taught those expressions and just thought they were funny, as opposed to doing the very logical thing and translating the native language using a dictionary, not realizing that the word had been parsed incorrectly.[/quote]
Your second paragraph states clearly that it is an intentional mistranslation for the sake of humor and NOT a loan word. Hence, it has nothing to do with loan words. The way the person used take iron might come from the Chinese but “take iron” is not a loan word and will never be.

Don’t quit your day job, if that’s what you get after reading my second paragraph.

I think Teacher Lin doesn’t know the definition of loan word. Just like “karate” is a loan word in English (because it comes form Japanese), and keompyuteo (computer) is a loanword in Korean from English, natie is a Chinese approximation of the English word latte. It is thus a loan word, just like 坦克、蘇打、漢堡、沙發等等

Your snotty comments are not appreciated. I completely understand that natie is a loanword from English. I am saying that if someone humorously says I want “take iron” it is then NOT a loan word.
Since it seems to be required let me help.
A loan word is imported form another language. Using the phrase in English “take iron” is definitely not imported into English and thus not a loan word. How difficult is that to understand. I don’t think it is I who do not know what a loan word is. If I walk into a coffee shop in the States and say “take iron please” is it a loan word? Gimme a break and stop getting arrogant over something you have clearly misread.
The OP clearly stated that it is something someone said. He did not ask whether natie is a loan word or not. A girl said I want to take iron. She meant latte. She didn’t do it because she is stupid. She didn’t do it because she mistranslated something. It was probably a humorous play with words based on what it is in Chinese. Loan word? Really??? Check the dictionary for a definition.

Your snotty comments are not appreciated. I completely understand that natie is a loanword from English. I am saying that if someone humorously says I want “take iron” it is then NOT a loan word.
Since it seems to be required let me help.
A loan word is imported form another language. Using the phrase in English “take iron” is definitely not imported into English and thus not a loan word. How difficult is that to understand. I don’t think it is I who do not know what a loan word is. If I walk into a coffee shop in the States and say “take iron please” is it a loan word? Gimme a break and stop getting arrogant over something you have clearly misread.
The OP clearly stated that it is something someone said. He did not ask whether natie is a loan word or not. A girl said I want to take iron. She meant latte. She didn’t do it because she is stupid. She didn’t do it because she mistranslated something. It was probably a humorous play with words based on what it is in Chinese. Loan word? Really??? Check the dictionary for a definition.[/quote]

First, this forum has a moderator. We do not require your services to inform posters that they are being “snotty”. You are walking the narrow line of a suspension with this kind of response.
Second, you don’t know the thought processes in the mind of the speaker the OP is referencing.
And third, it is completely illogical to say that something is a loanword, then say it is not a loanword. And lest you claim I don’t know what a loanword is, I’ve got a Ph.D in Linguistics. I seem to remember having mentioned “loanwords” a couple of times in the process of obtaining that qualification.

Like all users, you are welcome to participate in this discussion, but please endeavor to keep your responses civil and to contribute to the discussion, as other users do.

I wish I could find my “fried face” menu poster photo…

Your snotty comments are not appreciated. I completely understand that natie is a loanword from English. I am saying that if someone humorously says I want “take iron” it is then NOT a loan word.
Since it seems to be required let me help.
A loan word is imported form another language. Using the phrase in English “take iron” is definitely not imported into English and thus not a loan word. How difficult is that to understand. I don’t think it is I who do not know what a loan word is. If I walk into a coffee shop in the States and say “take iron please” is it a loan word? Gimme a break and stop getting arrogant over something you have clearly misread.
The OP clearly stated that it is something someone said. He did not ask whether natie is a loan word or not. A girl said I want to take iron. She meant latte. She didn’t do it because she is stupid. She didn’t do it because she mistranslated something. It was probably a humorous play with words based on what it is in Chinese. Loan word? Really??? Check the dictionary for a definition.[/quote]

First, this forum has a moderator. We do not require your services to inform posters that they are being “snotty”. You are walking the narrow line of a suspension with this kind of response.
Second, you don’t know the thought processes in the mind of the speaker the OP is referencing.
And third, it is completely illogical to say that something is a loanword, then say it is not a loanword. And lest you claim I don’t know what a loanword is, I’ve got a Ph.D in Linguistics. I seem to remember having mentioned “loanwords” a couple of times in the process of obtaining that qualification.

Like all users, you are welcome to participate in this discussion, but please endeavor to keep your responses civil and to contribute to the discussion, as other users do.[/quote]
So if I then say I am going to empty orchestra does that become a loan word from Japanese into English or would I have to actually use the real term Karaoke.
Should I say I am going to empty hand way or do I have to use Karate for it to be a loanword.
All I said, and I am right, is that saying take iron is not a loan word.
And yes Terry, I know you have a PhD. How do you know I don’t and wouldn’t your response then seem a little over the top?

Question 1: Who decides how to write foreign words with Chinese character? Is there an authority how makes this official?

Question 2: Why is it natie (拿鐵) and not latie (拉鐵), which would be much closer to the Italian? Cause people would associate diarrhea?

[quote=“hannes”]Question 1: Who decides how to write foreign words with Chinese character? Is there an authority how makes this official?

Question 2: Why is it natie (拿鐵) and not latie (拉鐵), which would be much closer to the Italian? Cause people would associate diarrhea?[/quote]

I don’t know. I don’t think there’s anything like the Real Academia for Spanish or whoever it is who declares French people shouldn’t say “le week-end” (though in both cases, the weight of the majority always ends up ruling, no matter what the committee would like…)

Latte would seem to be a later loanword. For some of the earlier ones, they might sound strange now because the phonetics of Chinese have changed over the years, but I have no clue why anyone picks one character or another to represent a foreign word in Chinese. I just know I don’t dare to pick characters if I’ve never seen the word anywhere, becuase I’d definitely get them wrong or come up with some hidden meaning I wasn’t anticipating. :blush:

I wish I could find my “fried face” menu poster photo…[/quote]

Here are 42 pages of “menu” blunders… mostly Chinese, but a few others too.
No “fried face” though…

engrish.com/category/menus/

‘Na tie’ is the loan word people were referring to. It would seem the person quoted in the OP translated this word literally into English, thinking ‘take iron’ was how we said ‘latte’ in English. It sounded like a mistake, not like she was joking, though without actually being there, who knows.
There are examples of words other languages have borrowed from English, that changed in meaning and pronunciation, and that we then borrowed back. ‘Karaoke’ is one - the ‘oke’ is from English in the first place. ‘Anime’, ‘pokemon’, and ‘panko’ are others. I guess if we started hearing a lot of Chinese people in Western countries referring to lattes as ‘take iron’, we might think it was funny and start to say the same thing ourselves.

Starbucks translates latte as 那堤, so as far as I know, the decision is made by the translator. We are a powerful bunch, really. :sunglasses:

Whether it sticks, though, is anyone’s guess. Some interesting examples from the past (at least to me) are 德律風 for telephone and 德先生 and 賽先生 (德謨克拉西 and 賽因斯)… take a guess what those are. They were all eventually replaced with more Chinesey equivalents.

Loan words seemingly tend to favor characters with positive connotations over exact sound matches, and there is a list of characters that show up in ‘transliterations’ more often than others, which is why some things that “sound like words in English” don’t. (Particularly personal names)