69 thoughts on “Proof that Hitler is still alive

      1. Yeah, that’s why I had to “weasel-word” by sneaking an “almost” in there. Still, one of my favorite health-related warnings admonishes its practitioners for being at extremely high-risk for having a good time. 😉

    1. Shorter distance flights often use propellor-driven planes, as they’re usually significantly cheaper to operate in such situations, and for shorter hops, a lower top speed has far less impact on the total travel time.

    1. That’s another problem with the sign. It is common for notices of this sort in India to have a “By order” followed by the name of the authority in whose name the notice is being made. (The people are supposed to have the right to know if it was the Prime Minister who ordered that no one is to eat on the carpet, or if it was the floor custodian). This printer seems to have forgotten to name the authority.

    1. In my high school junior play (written in the 1940’s) in the early 70’s, one of the students had the role of a detective. We all highly anticipated his uttered-with-emphasis line, when he identified himself to other players, especially in front of the student audience (but also in front of the local Peyton Place town public audience), “I’m a dick.”

    1. He’d be kinda old for that. Being born in 1888, he’d be around 137. And that is if he didn’t die in 1945, 1957(end if the occult wars), 1987(in AZ) etc.

  1. As a commenter above points out, it is meant to read “Eating on carpet strictly prohibited.” That is what the sign in HIndi is saying.

    1. It’s still not entirely clear. Does it mean ‘no eating in the carpeted area’, or just that you can’t spread your meal out on the carpet, picnic-fashion?


    2. English is never comfortable with prepositions – compare –
      eating off the the carpet
      eating on the carpet

      What is on the carpet, you or the food? Sitting on the carpet eating I suppose besides which imagine you have a small child with you – try telling it the rules about where to eat! 🙂

      1. Once, in Nepal of all places, I sat with a German friend and discussed prepositions in our respective languages. (I have pretty decent German, at least after I’ve been in-country a few days 🙂 .)

        Are we sitting at the table, on the table, by the table, to the table, with the table, under the table, over the table?

        Setzen wir bei dem Tisch (oder am Tisch?), an den Tisch, bei dem Itsch, zum Tisch, mit dem Tisch, unter dem Tisch, über dem Tisch?

        I’m so confused!

        And of course some German pronouns go either dative or accusative, depending on the usage (thanks a lot guys!).

        Every language uses pronouns differently. (Words, not rules, per Pinker.)

  2. I once saw a sign in a Beijing hotel fitness centre which read ‘beware of landslides’. I assumed that they actually meant ‘floor slippery when wet’ or something similar.

    It’s always unfortunate when there’s a translation from one language into another the translator isn’t exactly fluent in. Instruction manuals for high tech products offer enormous possibilities for amusement, and even greater possibilities for annoyance at not being able to operate the device.

    Americans and Australians shouldn’t criticise bad translations. After all, both are generally stubbornly monolingual.

    1. I think it’s quite okay to have fun with strange translations. Just so long as we recognize that foreigners are allowed to be equally amused by our attempts to speak their language.**

      My favourite came with an alarm clock – “Due to perfection of the alarming mechanism, you are never awake when you are sleeping”.

      (**And I regard anyone who thinks foreigners are dumber because they “don’t speak English proper” as an idiot, after all they probably speak at least one more language than him).


      1. There’s a George Burns quote to the effect of “I can’t think poorly of a foreigner speaking broken English when I realize he probably speaks 12 other languages as well,” but my google fu skills have failed me, and I can’t find the exact quote.

    2. This isn’t a criticism of Indians’ ability to speak English, which they clearly do far better than Anglophones speak Hindi (or any of the other gazillion Indian languages). It’s just a funny mistranslation.

      1. As I said below, it is far more likely to be a misprint than a mistranslation. The problem in government documents in India is often a funny mistranslation into Hindi, rather than from it.

        For example, in a recent competitive exam for selective bureaucrats for the upper level of the government, the phrase “steel plants” in the English version was translated into “इस्पात के पौधे”. The latter also translates back into English as “steel plants”, but the plants in question no longer run on coal, but on chlorophyll and sunlight. (Yes, the Hindi words for those two senses of “plants” are different).

  3. Well, I can’t say I find that carpet any too appetizing anyway…

    My wife is a linguistics person, and has a bookcase full of books on the topic. She’s managed to pick up a few books of humorous mistranslations along the way. My favorite is Here Speeching American by Petras and Petras. Also amusing are Radtke’s Chinglish and Kenrick’s Gems of Japanized English.

      1. That doesn’t mean it couldn’t be a mistranslation, not at all. If you want to be pedantic about it, there is not enough information to determine whether it is a typo or a mistranslation. You would have to know specific details about the making of this particular sign to be able to figure that out.

        1. Well, having dealt with the Central Government in India far more than others here might have done, I have enough information to claim that this is very unlikely to be a mistranslation, and much more likely to be a typo. The fact that the printer forgot to include the name of the authority “by (whose) order” the sign was posted is another indication that lends credence to the theory.

          Funny as it is, the major problem in government signage in India is not mistranslation into English, but from it. For example, in a recent competitive exam for selecting bureaucrats for the upper level of the government, the phrase “steel plants” in the English version of the test was translated to “इस्पात के पौधे” in the Hindi version. The latter also translated back into English as “steel plants”, except that the plants in question run no longer on coal, but on chlorophyll and sunlight. (Yes, the Hindi words for the two senses of the English word “plant” are very different).

          1. I see. Thanks for the insight. That the direction of translation more prone to error is from English to Hindi doesn’t surprise me, but I am somewhat surprised that English is an official language. A legacy of British rule I would guess.

            Are there segments of Indian society that actually use English regularly among themselves, business or tech for example, or is it mostly just used for communicating with English speaking foreigners?

            1. English is probably the only horizontal language* across a country with multiple official indigenous languages from different regions such as Punjabi and Gujarati amongst many others apart from Hindi.

              * Perhaps as well as Urdu, which is a kind of subcontinental Esperanto, iirc.


              1. Urdu and Hindi are grammatically identical: any valid Hindi sentence is a valid Urdu sentence and vice versa. This means that the mutual intelligibility between Hindi and Urdu for day to day speech is close to 100%, and that Urdu would be no more or less universal than Hindi in that respect.

                The difference between the two “languages” (apart from the standard scripts) comes from where they borrow their technical and specialized vocabulary from: Urdu writers tend to prefer Farsi and Arabic, Hindi writers typically prefer Sanskrit. In that respect, Hindi specialized vocabulary is actually more likely to be understood down south than Urdu specialized vocabulary.

                Urdu is also unlike Esperanto in that it was not a “designed” language. It (and Hindi) evolved in the usual way that languages evolve from “older” ones.

              2. Well, my recollection was that Urdu had been devised as a language for an army that comprised troops from different regions. And was later enriched by poets borrowing from Persian. But it seems my memory or my source erred.


              3. @Ant: Your recollection is certainly correct in part: it indeed started as a “camp” language. The word “Urdu” in fact apparently means “army” in Turkic.

                The difference from Esperanto is that it was not “devised”. It probably developed just as a consequence of soldiers from various nationalities and linguistic backgrounds trying to communicate with each other. In this respect, it is more akin to creoles than to designed languages such as Esperanto or (to a certain extent) Classical Sanskrit.

              4. Ah, thanks for the clarification.

                You remind me that a friend of mine used to play in his school’s hockey team in Birmingham. There were so many boys from India (and thereabouts) in the team (as in the school as a whole) that they used to communicate on the field in Urdu, which gave them a tactical advantage over most other school teams across the country.


              5. Oh, yes, this routine plays out in International cricket all the time. The funnier moments come when India are playing Pakistan (since Hindi, Urdu and Punjabi all have high mutual intelligibility, the former two close to 100%). Several Indian players have been known to eschew Hindi and English (even if they speak them fluently) in favor of more “southern” languages such as Marathi in games against Pakistan.

                Another fun sub-continental linguistic fact: English, Hindi, French, German, Spanish, Italian, Sanskrit etc. all belong to the same “Indo-European” language family. But Tamil, one of the most important Indian languages, does not.

            2. Most graduate education in India, especially in the sciences, engineering and medicine, is in English.

              The linguistic diversity of the Indian subcontinent in general and India in particular is comparable to, if not of a larger magnitude than, that of the European Union. The reasons for adopting English as one of the official languages are also similar to the reasons most administrative business of the EU happens in English: it serves as a common link language not just inside the country but also with the outside world.

              It is also important to keep in mind that language politics in the subcontinent is very serious business. Wars with damaging global ramifications have been fought over it. People just don’t take kindly to a language being imposed upon them by the government unless they see a clear benefit to it (as in the case of English with its status as the international lingua franca of science and business).

    1. Yes, if you followed the link from the words “he’s apparently in India”.

      It’s still a pretty tenuous connection, but maybe someone should alert the CIA, just in case…


    2. Yes, one of his nick-names (never uttered in his presence) was: der Tapis Fresser (the carpet eater/chewer).

      Use of the verb fressen (feed) instead of essen (eat) is derogatory as well. Fressen is a term for animals and is an insult when used about persons. A mild one; but nevertheless.

      1. The German expression “Teppich fressen” means to pace to and fro, like a bear in a cage.
        Hitler -as far as we know- never bit or ate actual carpets.

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