Monday, December 12, 2005


I made a post to Shanghai Streets:

How do we translate band names to English? This is typically what I do (for example, I'm trying to translate 迷窗):

  1. Use Google/Baidu to search for previous translations.
    [search for "迷窗 rock" or "迷窗 music"]
    This is probably a new band, because I can't find anything.
  2. Use Google/Baidu to search for translations of the words in online vocab lists.
    [search for "迷窗 glossary" or "迷窗 vocabulary" or "迷窗 english"]
    Nothing again.
  3. Drill down to the meanings of individual characters.
    [search for "迷窗 window" or "迷窗 fan"]
    Turns up 铁道迷窗/"Railfan Window" as the front window on a certain train, where train enthusiasts like to ride, but I'm guessing that's not what the band means.
  4. Use Google/Baidu to do a search for the band name, and then read the context to do my own translation.
    [search for "迷窗"]
    Turns up the phrase 暗迷窗晓 and other stuff, but as is often the case I'm clueless.
  5. Resort to the dictionary, or 成语 dictionary.
    [look up 暗迷窗晓]
    Except my dictionary is currently packed away in a box somewhere.

My favorite band names from a translation perspective are 发条橙 (had NO idea this was the name of a world-famous movie, came to me out of left-field), 三黄鸡 (I was translating this as "three yellow chickens" for months, before finding out that it's the name of a Shanghainese dish made of chicken with three shades of yellow), and 冷酷仙境 (after debating with friends about the connotations of the band's choice of translation for months again, I find out that the same phrase was used in(/comes from?) the title of one of Haruki Murakami's most famous books).

Oh, and can any native Chinese speaker help me to figure out what 迷窗 means, or where it comes from?


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