Saturday, July 07, 2007

An odd little souvenir

Goodness, I'd forgotten all about this.
It's a plastic label (transcribed below to be easier to read) I found abandoned at our resort in Cuba. The reason it caught my attention was because it was English. The reason it held my attention was because of the nature of the 'Cautions'. Even given wide latitude (latinatude?) for what's been lost in translation, no matter how many times I read this thing I cannot, for the life of me, begin to fathom what product this label was removed from! That's what prompted me to bring it back as an odd little souvenir.

Since the label is small and the photo was difficult, here is the text:

CAUTION!
PLEASE USE IT ACCORDING TO THESE CAUTION:
1. DON'T LEAVE IT EXPOSED TO DIRECT SUNLIGHT AND NEAR THE HEATER, DON'T LEAVE IT EXPOSED NEAR THE LAMPBLACK.
2. DON'T WASH IT WITH THE SHARP ABJECTS, SUCH AS THE STAIN-BRUSHES AND KNIVES.
3. DON'T WASH IT WITH THE CHEMICAL LIQUOR SUCH AS VOLATIZED ONE AND DILUTED ONE.
4. DON'T PUT SOMETHING HEAVY AND HARD ON IT, EG WATER. CLOSET COVERS, FLOWER POTS, WATER PAIL AND POTS.
IF YOU DON'T USE AND DEPOSIT IT ACCORDING TO THE CAUTIONS ABOVE, FADING, CHANGE COLOR, DISTORTION; CRACKING, AND SCRAPING SHOULD HAPPEN.

I thought perhaps it was a garment (I found it on a shelf under some mirrors in a ladies' room, and it isn't unusual for a woman to change into something she's just purchased in a ladies' room) until they got to the bit about putting heavy things such as water closet covers (?? toilet tank lids??) or flower pots on it.

A very odd little souvenir indeed.

6 Comments:

Blogger Mollie said...

That is fantastic. I like the part at the end about how "distortion and scraping should happen." Like, "...And if you can't follow these simple instructions, then you don't deserve to have nice things." No idea what the original nice thing might have been, though.

I think you should submit this to engrish.com!

9:57 AM  
Blogger Nostalgic for the Pleistocene said...

I can't think up a thing that works for every one of these instructions! I thought, inflatable float, but 'distortion' and 'scraping'?

Maybe a stuffed lounge chair cushion?

Instructions on preserving the item long-term sound weird to me - but then, up here, manufacturers want us to treat it rough and buy another one. In Cuba i'd bet there's more of a make-it-last attitude. At first the exposure to sunlight and heat warnings sound absurd, but the warnings could refer to long-term storage, not recreational use. Both things do deteriorate PVC and the like. Same for placing heavy objects on it - people might drag it up to the porch and weigh it down with a flowerpot or a bucket with a sharp rim, to keep it from blowing away.

11:47 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

a RAINCOAT??? (this brilliant thought just came to me after two days of pondering this gem of a label.)

engrish.com what's that? sounds like something xtreme english should know about.....

holidays are over, heat's here....

12:21 PM  
Blogger ronnie said...

I think our Anonymous poster may be onto something. A rain coat or ponchos is an excellent theory.

Alternately, nftp (can I call you NFTP?) was clever to think of inflatable float, because (drum roll) they sold a bunch of different inflatable rafts and kiddie toys at the resort gift shop for the pool and the beach! (Maybe "distortion" is a mistranslation of "warping" or "stretching" and "scraping" is meant to mean "scratches"?)

Now I have a quest when I return - find the floats and/or rain ponchos sold at the chain of tourist shops and see if either bear this label. :)

Anonymous, engrish.com is a website that collects bad translations from other languages into English (think signage in hotels, product labels, etc.) It's 99% devoted to Asian translations but they do have a small section of translations mangled from other languages.

I enjoy engrish.com a whole lot. But our Cuban hosts were so nice to us I can't bring myself to submit this, even in good fun. :)

7:50 PM  
Blogger ronnie said...

PS: mollie, your comment that the label suggested that "...if you can't follow these simple instructions, then you don't deserve to have nice things."

made me laugh out loud, for real.

ronnie

9:20 PM  
Blogger Xtreme English said...

looked up engrish.com. hilarious.

anonymously....xe

3:34 PM  

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