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Photo by Sampor Burke, Mekong Semester.

Tangled Translations part 1: Mandarin Memes on the Mekong

As two of the more advanced Chinese students on the program, many of our friends turned to us for translation help as soon as we arrived in China. We first taught the group “survival Chinese” like numbers, “toilet paper,” and “can I borrow your phone?” Everyone got the basics down very quickly and were eager to expand their knowledge to more complex ideas – memes. With only four years of high school Mandarin under our belt, we attempted to translate some group inside jokes referencing Eric Andre, Shrek, and Vines. While we know that these translations are far from grammatically correct, we enjoyed racking our brains for long forgotten vocab words and challenging our abilities. Below are a few of our favorites:

出去我的鱼拓。”Get out of my SWAAAAMP!” – ShrekLiteral meaning: Exit my fish pond!

请给我 Zootopia 票。”I’m trying to get Zootopia tickets.” – Eric AndreLiteral meaning: Please give me Zootopia tickets.

我和牛肉看一样。”I smell like beef. ” – VineLiteral meaning: Me and beef are the same in appearance.

一样一样可是不一样。”Same same but different.” – phrase commonly used in Laos, applicable in any situation.

特朗普包了大便。他应该回山。”Trump is full of poop. He should return to the mountain.” -Maia

Hopefully by the time we leave China, our Chinese will have improved enough to translate these phrases more accurately!