Friday, March 18, 2005

Ill Communications

Communication Breakdown Part 1: The word is "Nikto"

You don't think clear communication is important? Well, young grasshopper, perhaps you have forgotten the hard lessons learned by Bruce Campbell's character Ash, from Sam Raimi's classic Army of Darkness.

To wit:

This path will lead you to an unholy place. A cemetery. There the Necronomicon awaits. When thou retrievest the book from its cradle you must recite the words: Klaatu Barada Nikto.

Klaatu Barada Nikto. Okay.

Well repeat them.

Klaatu Barada Nikto.


I got it! I got it! I know your damn words alright? Now you get this straight, the both of you. If I get that book you send me back. After that, I'm history. Hyeah!

[Later... It's crunchtime. Ash has the Necromicon, and to open it without summoning vast legions of the undead he just needs to say...]

The words. Right, right, right. Say the words. Klaatu! Barata! Nn... Necktie, necturn, nickle... noodle. It's an 'n' word. It's definitely an 'n' word. It was definitely an 'n' word! Klaatu! Barata! Nn(coughmumblecough).

[The wind stops. Everything quiets down.]

... Okay then. That's it.

[Gravestones start to tremble. Hands shoot up from the graves. The dead rise!]

Hey! Wait a minute! Everything's cool! I said the words! I did!


So. "The devil is in the details", they say. And "you never get a second chance to make a first impression". And [insert your own wise adage here]. Being understood can sometimes be kinda important in a sort of preventing-humanity-from-being-overrun-by-the-undead kinda way, yeah?

Of course, it's extremely unlikely you'll ever be in this particular situation (or "sitch" as the Kim Possible set say) of needing to communicate with zombies from the netherworld. I mean, please, let's not be ridiculous.

But space aliens, on the other hand...

Say this is your first meeting with an un-Earthly non-human entity: an Extraterrestrial (ET). If you handle it well, you will be the greatest hero alive, and be able to make a fortune selling your story to the media. If you blow it, the repercussions could be unimaginably terrible, perhaps an interstellar war that could annihilate humanity.

Feeling a little stressed out? Rule Number One: DON'T PANIC.{1} Just follow these simple guidelines, and all will be well. We hope.

(via The Presurfer)


Communication Breakdown Part 2: Erectric Boogaroo


You may have heard of, right? As their FAQ explains, they point out "humorous English mistakes that appear in Japanese advertising and product design."

It made me wonder whether "Engrish" occurred in other countries that Japan sends products to. Do Parisians get a giggle out of mistranslated "Flench"? Is there a website for "Itarian"? These questions remain unanswered, but there is another site out there that appreciates a good mistranslation. Think of The Chinglish Files (Chinese + English) as a kind of sister-site to

For anyone interested, here is a more in-depth look at how Chinglish occurs.

(also via The Presurfer)

(And yes, I realize both of these posts are from The Presurfer. What can I say? The Presurfer rocks. You should check out The Presurfer, for The Presurfer does not disappoint. All hail The Presurfer! If I were that kind of guy, I would give The Presurfer a full-on kiss on the mouth. But no tongues... I like The Presurfer, but I don't like The Presurfer that much.)

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