Just Wanna Know

Revolutionary Propaganda Organ

Tuesday, January 09, 2007


Well, it uses English words, but it doesn't really work, except perhaps as avant-garde or absurdist poetry. The packaging came with a flashlight my brother found in a store in Tamale, northern Ghana.

The long text says:

Operation Method:
1 The regular whole light of magnet in the base and nece ssary position
2 the fan-shaped tooth which locks the organization establishes the lamp holder on different angle and position
3 is it down cigar head can pull out necessary
4wire insert some cigarette device
5in finish using directly cigar head to draw, in the rotationoverlayed before the wire is black through the head is deposited in In the shell of one

I guess I want to know:
(1) Was this a case of reading across or down or otherwise backwards/sideways in the direct back-translation from the Chinese characters, or
(2) was it a case of the layout getting garbled in some computer program, or
(3) is it just somebody's best stab for packaging heading to anglophone Africa (where, really, nobody needs instructions to figure out how to work a flashlight)?

In any case, where did "cigar head" come from?

I'm hoping Language Log or someone with some Chinese can help me out.


At 3:50 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

hello, this is reda, singer of hoba hoba spirit. if you need more info - or explanations about our lyrics, here is my mail reda99@gmail.com
thanks for your interest to our band

At 4:45 PM, Blogger nomes said...

cigar head is referring to the 12volt connection on the car which in the days when smoking was PC was used for a cigarrette lighter.

At 5:40 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

oh crap, that is hilarious! people were staring at me when i busted out laughing in my office. thanks for sharing! heh heh....marinel

At 10:47 AM, Blogger John Schaefer said...

Reda: Thanks for stopping by! I will definitely email you--I have so many questions.
Nomes: How did "cigarette lighter" become "cigar head"?
Marinel: Glad to oblige! :)


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