A good laugh from a bad translation

I’ve always been a word person, since my earliest memories. I’ve always enjoyed playing with language, Odd that I hated my 7th-grade linguistics class… clearly I was not emotionally or intellectually ready for it. Or else my teacher was a dried-up, boring old pedant. Whatever.

I remember about 20 years ago I was sitting in my office while recovering from a fall in the which I had cracked three ribs. Things were quite uncomfortable, when I happened to run across the following sniglets:

ARACHNOLEPTIC FIT (n.) The frantic dance performed just after you’ve accidentally walked through a spider web.

ECNALUBMA (ek na lub’ ma) n. A rescue vehicle which can only be seen in the rearview mirror.

LACTOMANGULATION (lak’ to man gyu lay’ shun) n. Manhandling the “open here” spout on a milk container so badly that one has to resort to the ‘illegal’ side.

These, along with a few others, struck me as so funny at the moment that I was overcome by paroxysmic fits of giggling, punctuated with “Ow! Ow! Ow!” from the rib injuries. The episode must have lasted more than 15 minutes, and the tears streaming down my face were a mixture of mirth and pain.

So yesterday I stumbled across the following sign over at reddit, seen somewhere in Taiwan:

Hell All Your Family

I fear that this sophomoric bit of humor affected me in the same way; “hell all your family” strikes me as excruciatingly funny. This time I was not suffering from broken ribs so the laughter only resulted in odd looks from my wife as I thrashed helplessly on the couch.

I note with interest that hella has become, in recent days, an acceptable adverb, as in “that movie was hella good;” I am pleased to see that Hell has now become a verb. As Calvin remarked to Hobbes, “Verbing weirds language,” and the weirder language is, the better I like it.

The Old Wolf has spoken.

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