Friday, 5 September 2008

Not the only ones to make that mistake!

Although it was almost a year ago that my brother told me my name was really a wrong Chinese translation of "Freeman" (referring to Alfred Percy Freeman, the record-breaking Kent leg-spinner), this article I found seaching the web really does surprise me. It points out that errors trying to tattoo people in Chinese are very common and one woman who had a tattoos meaing "free" done cried when she realised the tattoo said "free of charge" - which of course is a very different message from being free as opposed to being a bonded slave.

Nonetheless, my past history, when I recall it, shows that I have often made the same mistake.

For instance, when I first heard of "free elections" after the fall of Stalinism in Eastern Europe (it said "Hungary is having its first free elections in 40 years") I assumed it meant "free" as in the Chinese mianfei and that elections that were not free were ones where voters were obliged to pay to vote. Even with Alfred Percy Freeman himself, I often jokingly imagined him called "Paidman" (as the opposite of "Freeman") because he was actually a professional cricketer who gained considerable wealth (including two benefits) from playing for Kent.

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