Summary: The author of Hebrews states that Jesus is the radiance of God’s glory, and the exact representation of His being. In a world where God’s message is so often drowned out by the noise around us, it is good to be reminded that God continues to speak to His
If you ever happen to listen to Positive 89.3 on Saturday nights, you know that Joe Polek and I often enjoy sharing humorous stories from the news between the songs that we play. If you listened last night, you would have heard us talking about a variety of mistranslations with humorous results. We got started on mistranslations because I had found a news article about a recent tourism publication from the City of Jerusalem. Boldly proclaimed on the front of the brochure were these words: “Jerusalem! There is no such city!” Tens of thousands of copies had been distributed before the mistake was realized—the correct translation? “Jerusalem--there’s no city like it!”
Some of my other favorite mistranslations include:
• A warning to motorists in Tokyo: "When a passenger of the foot heave in sight, tootle the horn. Trumpet at him melodiously at first, but if he still obstacles your passage, then tootle him with vigor."
• In a Tokyo hotel: Is forbitten to steal hotel toweles please. If you are not person to do such thing is please not to read this notice.
• In an advertisement by a Hong Kong dentist: "Teeth extracted by the latest Methodists".
• When translated into Chinese, the Kentucky Fried Chicken slogan "finger-lickin’ good" came out as "eat your fingers off".
• Denmark: in a Copenhagen airline ticket office: We take your bags and send them in all directions
• Apparently skiers (and their ski-boots) were making lots of noise after hours in this Austrian hotel, so they posted this sign: "Not to perambulate the corridors in the hours of repose in the boots of ascension.
• in a hotel in Athens: Visitors are expected to complain at the office between the hours of 9 and 11 A.M. daily
• Serbia: in a Belgrade hotel elevator: To move the cabin, push button for wishing floor. If the cabin should enter more persons, each one should press a number of wishing floor. Driving is then going alphabetically by national order.
I don’t know about you, but I think I’ll pass on that elevator—United States comes pretty late in the alphabet, so I’m not sure I’d ever get to my “wishing floor!”
Translation is really quite difficult—as I’ve worked at the General Store this summer, I’ve enjoyed getting to know Saulo and Fernanda, the two Brazilian employees who work with me behind the sandwich counter. As they try to pick up English, they struggle most with our idioms and figures of speech. Often it takes far longer for us to communicate clearly, because we have to eliminate the short-cuts that we use in our every-day speech.
As I thought about translations and the difficulties of communicating between two language groups, I began to think about how difficult it seems to fully understand God. Whenever we begin to use words to describe God’s eternal attributes, we find that our language falls short. Words cannot contain or adequately represent God’s nature or His will for us. When we attempt to wrap our finite brains around His finite being, we quickly discover that we are not really up to the task.