Friday, November 11, 2005

Translation Difficulties

I've been freaking out for the past 15 minutes. Some people from IU requested my attendance at some kind of reception in Beijing tonight. I asked them to send me the characters for the hotel's name so I could properly communicate with the cab driver. They, however, only sent me the pinyin, without tones. This is essentially like sending a word scramble to someone as a reply to an email; it's not helpful, and it's going to take alot of guesswork to get things right.

Well, I don't have time for guesswork right now. I need to shower, get dressed, and get myself in a cab early to hunt this place down. I, of course, turned to the internet to help me in my search. They told me the name of my destination is the Capital Hotel on East Qianmen Street. They didn't tell me the district, but the street is helpful. I searched for the Capital Hotel on google, and I had many hits. The problem, however, was that all of the sites were geared toward English-speaking foreigners, meaning that there were no characters to be found on the sites.

I got to the last page and found a pixelated version of the hotel's logo. The characters I thought I was seeing matched the pinyin I was sent in the email, so I searched with those characters in google. Lo and behold, it was the correct hotel. So the issue here is that the names are different in the two languages.

English - Capital Hotel
Chinese- Capital Big Alcohol Store

This is going to be a strange night. I already know it. If there's baijiu, I'm out of there.

I looked up "jiudian" in the dictionary, by the way, and it means hotel. Jiudian could also be alcohol store, but I was just unaware of the other meaning. Even still, it made for a comical search.


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