In China, learning English in the public schools is mandatory but speaking English like a native doesn’t always work well when you’re learning from a cartoon character called Mocky the naughty monkey.
Michael Meyer, the author of “The Last Days of Old Beijing” had this to say about Mocky: “Beijing students begin studying English in Grade One. Every child is enrolled in three forty-five-minute lessons each week until the end of elementary school, at Grade Six. Much of Mocky’s instruction is automated, reducing the teacher’s role to leading students through recitations of the dialogues, animated on a disc included with the text. Although Mocky speaks slowly, he sounds as if he’s inhaled some bad helium.”
Recently a friend shared the following e-mail (starts after the 1st video) with me and said it had gone viral among the Chinese. Because I’ve watched a number of Chinese films with English subtitles and knew about Mocky the naughty monkey, it was easy to read the e-mail and believe it was an example of “lost in translation” gone LOL crazy.
The viral E-mail starts next and ends before the 2nd video:
A friend went to Beijing recently and was given this brochure by the hotel.
She is keeping it and reading it whenever she feels depressed. The brochure has been translated directly, word for word, from Mandarin to English.
Our representative will make you wait at the airport. The bus to the hotel runs along the lake shore. Soon you will feel pleasure in passing water. You will know that you are getting near the hotel, because you will go round the bend. The manager will await you in the entrance hall. He always tries to have intercourse with all new guests.
This is a family hotel, so children are very welcome. We of course are always pleased to accept adultery. Highly skilled nurses are available in the evenings to put down your children. Guests are invited to conjugate in the bar and expose themselves to others. But please note that ladies are not allowed to have babies in the bar. We organize social games, so no guest is ever left alone to play with them self.
Our menus have been carefully chosen to be ordinary and unexciting. At dinner, our quartet will circulate from table to table, and fiddle with you.
Every room has excellent facilities for your private parts. In winter, every room is on heat. Each room has a balcony offering views of outstanding obscenity!
You will not be disturbed by traffic noise, since the road between the hotel and the lake is used only by pederasts.
Your bed has been made in accordance with local tradition. If you have any other ideas please ring for the chambermaid. Please take advantage of her. She will be very pleased to squash your shirts, blouses and underwear. If asked, she will also squeeze your trousers.
When you leave us at the end of your holiday, you will have no hope. You will struggle to forget it.
The punchline, as it turns out, is that the original e-mail that went viral was an April fool’s joke and one person who thought it was real forwarded it to everyone he knew who forwarded it again—going viral.
Also discover Translating “We Do Chicken Right”
Lloyd Lofthouse is the award-winning author of My Splendid Concubine [3rd edition]. When you love a Chinese woman, you marry her family and culture too. This is the love story Sir Robert Hart did not want the world to discover.
His latest novel is the multiple-award winning Running with the Enemy.
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