It’s gibberish, Jim, but just as we know it.
When I went after some oil for my bike chain this afternoon, I noticed this shop across the street. I have no idea what it’s meant to say. Perhaps the owner is taking the… [Don’t say it! Don’t even think it! –ed.]
I took a trip to Walmart after tea tonight and went for a little stroll around the place. I see that the audience for free-view DVDs has shrunk, the queue for eggs has gone, and the place is busier than it was when I first went there, but what caught my eye was some of the signs in the fruit and veg section. Have you ever heard of flurbunwiths? This is the alleged, er, translation of 酸菜 suāncài “pickled vegetables”. I can’t see any connection between this and flurbunwiths in the way “usa califoruia brrf noodlr hing” (on the menus in California Beef Noodle King) is obvious.
But there were other peculiar labels such as “and boolean” for 黑布林 hēi bù lín which, according to Baidu, means “black plum” where I assume 布林 is a quasi-phonetic rendering of plum. Then there was 鸡毛菜 jīmáo cài (see picture) which was translated as “cooking chicken feathers”. The word 鸡毛 is in the dictionary and seems to be used in phrases meaning something that’s small or trivial, but there’s no mention of the vegetable. There was also 伊丽莎白瓜 yīlìsuōbái guā (see picture below) which was translated as Elizabethan melon; or, to be more exact, the Chinese is obviously a rendering of “Elizabethan”. The questions are what the melon used to be called (because I don’t imagine that it always had this name), why the name was changed, and why this became the new name. I can’t imagine the word “Elizabethan” has the same resonance to the Chinese as it does to me.