Lost in Translation: Received from China

I was listening to my NPR One app today, caught a piece entitled Finding A Pedicure In China, Using Cutting-Edge Translation Apps–and I remembered that I have a story to share.

Not so long ago, this postcard from China dropped through my mail slot, thanks to Postcard United.

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Oh, how nice.  It was when I turned it over that I did a triple-take.

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Well, this is a first!  The official language of Postcard United (and Postcrossing) is English (how very convenient for us native English-speakers).  While I’ve received many cards with a word or several in the sender’s native tongue, I’d never received a card with NO English (“Happy Postcard United” doesn’t count)!

Off I went in search of an app that might do a visual translation for me.  That found, I took a shot of the card’s message, & sent it through:

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Did you catch that?  Let’s review:

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I… don’t think that was a good translation.  And you ought to have heard the app speak it out!

I decided to post the pic of the card on Facebook, since I know a lot of Chinese-speakers.  One Taiwan-born friend reported back:

This is my rough translation from the poem:

I am like a bird in a forest, struggling to free myself towards the sky, boldly spread my shoulders and close my eyes, distant horizon is only short steps away, I am just like that tiny bird in a forest, without existence and aiming for the moon, my wings are stained in blood and any setback will not stop me from flying higher.

Oh, a poem!

I thanked my friend, who said “I am glad my grade 8 Chinese came in handy.”

Have you had any experiences along these lines?

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A Post So Action-Packed, it’s Got BULLET-POINTS! Received from Canada, Germany, Macau, Malaysia, & Taiwan

So much going on, I’ll hype in in bullet points right here at the top!

  • Snoopy!
  • Hamilton!
  • Another Postcard United Quirk: In & Outta Macau
  • A Very Special Postmark, & an IDGAF Hand Cancellation!

Okay, let’s get down to it…

First group of cards: STAR POWER!  This cool shaped Snoopy & Woodstock card came to me from Taiwan, thanks to a Postcrossing Forum Snoopy/Peanuts tag.  The back was cool, too, as you’ll see toward the bottom of this post.

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From NYC: the “Ham Across America” card is a thank-you for making a donation to the Planned Parenthood Foundation of America as a special contest/fundraising promotion Hamilton creator Lin-Manuel Miranda was promoting.  His mother is on the national board of directors of Planned Parenthood Action Fund.  No, I did not win anything, but I was really looking forward to receiving this postcard–and I already have my tickets for Hamilton’s SF run.

Second set of cards: FOOD!  That lovely illustrated recipe came to me from Malaysia in another Postcrossing Forum tag.  The sender writes:

I’ve been to SG, TW, Thailand, Indo but I realized I haven’t tried all the delicious cuisine in Malaysia.  Malaysia is a multiracial country and also a gourmet heaven.  Hope you can come and try it next time.

His country holds the very top slot on my “want to visit” list.

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Spoons!  They’re from Lithuania, thanks to Postcard United, and the sender wries:

I live in the capital city with my family & dog & rabbit.  I love animals a lot.  They always make me smile!  Traveling is my passion.  I haven’t been to US yet, but hopefully I’ll get a chance one day!

The next card is from Nagoya City, Japan, also via Postcard United, and the sender tells me, “I love these Japanese sweets, wagashi.”

Third set of cards: NATURE!  I love this depiction of Malaysian foliage.  It’s yet another Postcrossing Forum tag (can you tell I love those things?), from the same sender as the food card above.  This time, he writes:

Have you ever heard about Terengganu?  It’s one of the states of Malaysia and famous with islands, beaches, and other unmatched beauty.  As a local, normally I went for off-road cycling/jungle trekking/hiking with my friends during the weekend.  There are lots of interesting looking plants inside the wood including the Pitcher plant from the postcard.  The local named it “Periuk Kera,” means monkey pot because they think monkeys drink and eat from the “pot.”  Though playing in the wild was fun, there’s still some rules and taboo you must know before going to the forest and mountain.  It might sound superstitious, but there’s a lot of strange and explainable things that me and my friends encounter before.  But not enough space to write here.

Ugh!  Just when it was getting to the good part!  Well, I hope he tags me again soon.  You know what, though?  Look at that message above.  Such a long, content-filled note!  So much, in a tight, pretty neat, hand.  This is what I just love to see on a postcard.  Cool texture on the card, too–it even shows up in the scan.

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Remains from sea creatures, arranged neatly in the sand…it’s a regular Postcrossing draw from Germany, and I like the way the card’s sender closes her message:

“…let us all hope for peace on earth!!”

Now, I’m no fan of excessive exclamation points, but it’s definitely a good time for us all to hope for peace on earth!!

Those leaves are from A Bug’s Life, and the sender is Melissa, who was writing specifically to try to get me the special Canada Post cancellation from Saint-Valentin, Quebec.  It worked, as you’ll see if you scroll down.  They kinda cancelled out her message, rather than the stamps, but the red ink wouldn’t have shown up well on the red stamps, anyhow.  Scroll on down, and you’ll see the postal worker’s inelegant solution to make sure the stamps couldn’t be reused!

Fourth & final group of cards: MANMADE STUFF!  Taipei 101 is from a Facebook friend in Canada who’s noticed my postcard postings in social media.  He recently took a trip to Taiwan & China, and put out a notice to his contacts to let him know if they’d like him to send them postcards along the way.  Why, yes, please!

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Oh, the Macau card!  I mentioned this situation recently! One day, I clicked on Postcard United’s “send a postcard” link, and was assigned a recipient in Macau–and the very next day, I received a card from that same person!  As I said in my other post, this is not the first time this has happened with old P.U.  Do you have any similar experiences?

The sender of the card is also the card’s artist.  She writes:

I love painting & take photo.  My dream is to send my art works all over the world.

I don’t remember if I noticed at the time I received this card that the sender was also the artist.  Horrible memory, so there’s another reason it’s good I do this bloggy thing with my cards.

The last card is the one with those interesting beach chairs.  It’s a swap-bot trade from Berlin, Germany, and the sender tells me:

This is how a German beach looks like usually.  At least at the Baltic Sea.  And I love how colorful it is.

Time to look at the backs of the cards, with all the stuff I mentioned earlier, & more…

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Cool postmark AND stamps!

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I love the tasty Japanese food stickers.

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Joy-in-the-Box: Received from Japan & the U.S.

A super-long day at work, and I came home to this…

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Soooo nice to see the bills & junk mail peppered with some beautiful postcards!  And I had a good idea, before I even took a good look, that they came from my two most kind & posta-talented snail mail pals.

Snoopy & ‘Stock are courtesy of Cindi in Hawaii, who really Peanutsed-up the back of the card!

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Breathtaking!

And my pal in Tokyo, Japan turned a Snoopy print ad into a wonderful envelope.

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Have a closer look at the stamps: the card from Japan has a little something extra: a stamp from Italy!

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(but it’s the other 3 stamps I love)

It’s a Bootleg, Charlie Brown! Received from Taiwan

This just in from Pingtung, Taiwan, courtesy of the Snoopy/Peanuts tag on Postcrossing Forum!  Hey, can you spot at least 3 signs that mark this card as an obvious knockoff?  Answers after the message!

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The sender writes (in part):

“I live in a small village in Taiwan.  Taiwan is famous for delicious foods.  My country is known for many kinds of fruits, especially wax apple…”

Okay, have you been playing our game at home?  I asked if you could spot at least 3 signs that mark this card as an obvious knockoff.  Here are my answers:

  1. The copyright line at the bottom: “PEANUT.”  The strip is called “Peanuts.”   How interesting that a knock-off product would slip in copyright lines–and on BOTH sides of the card (see below)!
  2. Who on earth is “M. Schulz?”  Well, at least they didn’t spell the guy’s last name “Schultz.”
  3. The card offers the least-accurate rendition of Snoopy I’ve seen since The Peanuts Movie.

Now look at the back of the card: the stamps apparently fell of in the mail, so I am very glad this made it to me (the sender has messaged me that she used 3 stamps; do you think a collector got to them?).  The colorful images are stickers, an the purple ones are printed on the card.  They look like actual Schulz art, and there we have the United Features copyright line again.

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Stuffables & Stuff: Received from Japan

** First, a note on the giveaway: NO ONE WANTS IT so far!  All is exactly as I had suspected–but please check it out, & let me know if you would like to stake a claim.**  

Now, look at this beautiful surprise envelope I got from a Postcrosser in Utsunomiya, Tochigi, Japan:

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This Postcrosser, who has been on the site for just over a year & writes in her profile that she has never been overseas, really threw herself into sending something special across the ocean to a person she was assigned through a rather random website click.  Look at that beautiful envelope she fashioned out of a map!  Look at the wonderful things that were inside!

She writes:

“…Utsunomiya there are a lot of specialty shops of pan-fried dumpling.  At first, dumpling was imported from China, pan-fried dumpling is one of popular food in Japan.  Do you know the pan-fried dumpling?  I like delicious it.”

Yes, I know them & like them, too–although with all of the dumplings out there, I do not get to these all that often.  There’s the Chinese name, kuo teh, AKA pot stickers, and there’s the Japanese name, gyoza.  And here I have a story.  I was at a Japanese restaurant just a few days ago (not eating dumplings).  At some point, behind me, I heard what sounded like a teen girl talking about what she planned to order: “I’m going to get the GOYZA!”  Goyza?  I was waiting for someone to correct her, at some point, as she repeated what she was getting, but apparently no one else… sigh.  And I think the waiter humored her by repeating the mispronounciation.  I was hoping someone, ANYONE, in that little restaurant would improve her life by pointing out that “gyoza” is not pronounced “goyza.”  Someone, anyone?  Someone, anyone but me?  Not me.  And not anyone else.

The message on the goyza postcard continues:

“I was put (in this envelope) Pochi-bukuro.  Pochi-bukuro (petit envelope) is often used in Japan.  Especially at New Year’s, there is a custom in Japan that adults give money to children as a tip.  Of course, it may be good for a small accessory or mini card.  Try using this Japanese style envelope in your creative style.

I don’t remember hearing about this Japanese tradition.  Now, I do know the envelopes, known as hongbao, for their use in the Chinese tradition during the Lunar New Year.  I have used hongbao in the past in “my creative style:” I gave a friend a coffee gift card in a little envelope.  He asked me where the money was.  I told him I wasn’t his parent.  A lot of Chinese adults still get hongbao from their parents.  Never having been a Chinese child, I have never received a cash-stuffed hongbao (at least, not that I remember).  I do have a little stash of little envelopes (they are sold at many places in my area, and have a variety of fun designs & famous characters), into which I stuff tiny treasures & junk when I am preparing a package to mail to a friend.

What do you think I should do with these Pochi-bukuro I have been sent?

 

 

Snoopy-Pocky! Received from Japan

Second card in a week from my Snoopy postcard pal in Tokyo, Japan!  This time, she has flattened out a Pocky box & turned into a colorful, special postcard for me.

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Front & back.  Hey, I just noticed there’s a stamp with leeks on it!

She tells me this is a limited-period edition package, and asked me if I’d ever seen Snoopy packages here in the U.S.  I told her there had been several recently, all in association with the Peanuts Movie, so the art was in that style, instead of Schulz’s.  Then I flashed back to when I was a kid, and Snoopy was the Zinger Zapper.

What Does One Say to the Person Who Says NOTHING? Received from Germany

From a Postcrosser in Berlin, Germany, a Postcrosser who calls himself a writer, one who shares his work on stage; a Postcrosser who has been using the site for over 5 years, and has sent out nearly 6,000 postcards:

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“Best wishes from Berlin in Germany.  Happy Postcrossing.”

I would call that message lazy, but it’s just not.  Sloppy, sure, but lazy?  NO.  There was the strategic intent to write as little as possible, by using the strategy of turning the card at an angle.  Upright orientation?  Plenty of room to squeeze in an extra sentence or five.  Sideways orientation?  Possibly, arguably, room for even MORE writing!  THIS fella, though–he put great effort into fitting NOTHING into his card!

I must assume he is in Postcrossing only to amass the largest collection of postcards possible, and in no way to accrue inspiration for his writing, let alone his life & spirit in general.  Well, maybe he is in it to acquire inspiration–but not to spread any.

I, as a person who did NOT join Postcrossing in order to collect postcards, am left without inspiration of any kind.

Well, I suppose there was the inspiration to pound out this rant.

Crunch-tastic: Received from Taiwan & the United States

The latest mail brought a train, and a ship’s crew!

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Let’s start aboard the ship, for an arrival through swap-bot’s chunk of cardboard trade, from a fellow swapper somewhere near Trenton, New Jersey.  I have mentioned many times here how much I enjoy making & receiving postcards from recyclables–it’s just fun.  Cereal boxes, I think, make for great postcards, and I’ve repurposed them in this way since way before I’d ever heard of such amazing things as swap-bot & Postcrossing.  The sender of this card wished me a Happy New Year, and tells me she has set a goal for herself to write or take a photograph each day.

The train card came from Taipei, Taiwan, via a Postcrossing Forum “Taiwan Meets the World” trade, in which Taiwan is Taiwan, and I am the world.  I would nitpick about the lack of a message on the back of the card, but for two things: first, the sender admits in his profile that his English is bad; and second, this card, which from the rear reminds me of the outline of a manatee, is so small, and the manufacturer has printed an image all over the space not allocated for the stamps & address.  It negates the whole purpose of sending a postcard!  I have reprinted the entire card below, omitting only the address & user name.

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(Great stamps, BTW)