translator blamed for $200k wine bid

Huang Nubo 黄怒波, the former official turned billionaire real-estate tycoon attempting to enter the tourism business in Iceland and Norway, denies he ever made what the august columns of the Süddeutsche Zeitung called an “immoral offer” for a bottle out of a barrel of wine from 1653 in Bremen that has been declared Unesco heritage. “I have never expressed an intention to purchase wine in Bremen,” he tells the Hannoversche Allgemeine Zeitung, and emphasises his frugality: “I wouldn’t buy expensive things only for my personal pleasure.” Mr Huang has just begun a decade-long trip around world heritage sites and intends simply to look at them, rather than consume them. Ratskellmeister Krötz, who showed him around the cellar that houses the barrel, tells a different story: one day after Huang’s visit, his interpreter ringed up and conveyed unequivocally the tycoon’s desire to bid for a bottle. Then again, the whole thing might have been just a “translation error”, concedes Krötz.

Huang, who is also a published poet, had prophetically alluded to translation errors long before the incident:

Using the dead to butcher the dead is also unforgivable; like using one language to obscure another, it’s an act of violence that goes against the laws of heaven!


If death on a grand scale begins to be carried out like clockwork, we should hasten to first slaughter all sentences and then stockpile Durex condoms as best we can.

The volume that contains these lines, Bunnies (the English translation of the Chinese original 小兔子 Xiao tuzi, recently published in German as Kakerlaken-Kunde or ‘cockroach lore’), uses itself some language violence on its very cover: the blurb manages to mispell the name of Huang’s company, and says he “has lived and work both in Beijing China, and Newport Beach, California U.S.A for many years.” At some point he also “completed climb Mt. Everest.”

2 thoughts on “translator blamed for $200k wine bid

  1. […] (Translator-scapegoating is a time-honoured custom in the Chinese business world; cf. this old post of mine, that includes quotes from the Sino-Arctic […]

  2. […] poet under the pen name Luo Ying 骆英. I have quoted his verses about Château Lafite, about stockpiling condoms. I have mentioned how he flies first-class because that helps him write, and hope he’ll make […]

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