Oct 2, 2009

Babelfish Strikes Again

Got this email today from a Russian theater in Chekhov's hometown, responding to a fact-checking question:
Expensive colleagues!

Festival in Taganrog the seventh under the account. The following festival is planned in September, 2010.

With pleasure we invite you to take in it part in quality of guests of honour!

"Expensive colleagues" is so much more attention-grabbing than "dear friends," don't you think?

UPDATE: One of the productions at that Russian theater's upcoming theater festival is something called "Five poods of love," which is not a mistranslation--it refers to a description Chekhov once offered of The Seagull, as detailed here:
In a letter to his friend Aleksei Suvorin as he was finishing The Sea Gull, Chekhov said that it contained 5 "poods" of love, along with four acts, a landscape with a lake, very little action, and a lot of talk about literature.2 A pood was a pre-metric Russian weight measure equivalent to 16 1/2 kilos or 36 lbs. So we have 180 pounds of love in the play, which I take as a lot.

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