Saturday, 29 March 2014

Some tasteless humour

© David Mullineaux

The above photo was featured in the The Telegraph's Sign Language special photo gallery on toilet humour with the caption 'The world is your urinal'. 'Sign Language' is a picture gallery where readers send in amusing photos of strange signs and bizarre translations in the UK and around the world which are published each week. Pisse en l'air is a small waterfall on Reunion, in the cirque (natural amphitheatre) of Salazie, but ironically it's not the waterfall shown, which is actually 640m-high Cascade Blanche. Pisse en l'air literally means 'piss in the air' and it is another smaller waterfall renowned for falling from a cliff onto the road - and onto your car if you happen to be driving by underneath (make sure you keep your car windows closed!).

Something else that frequently amuses non-French visitors to Reunion is Le Tampon - this is the name of a town and municipality in the south of the island, not far from the volcano.

Le Tampon logo

While 'tampon' only has one meaning in English, in French it has several meanings,  including 'buffer' or 'stamp', however in this particular case no one is exactly sure of the town name's origin. There are several theories:
- Tampony is a Malagasy word which means 'viewpoint', or 'summit that can be seen from afar';
- it could come from tampon de combat, or 'shot plug', a type of stopper used to seal a projectile hole in a ship's hull during combat, and/or tampon d'écubier, which was a 'hawse-plug' or 'buckler' (a block used to stop up a hawse hole at sea);
- documents dating from 1727 mention a small river gully known as the Ravine du Tampon, so known because a tampon de hublot, or 'porthole stopper', had been placed there as a landmark. 

Keeping with the theme of toilet humour, I saw this sign in the lavatory on an Air Koryo flight when I was flying back to Beijing from Pyongyang (it also featured in The Telegraph’s ‘Sign Language’ photo gallery):

Hips don't fly

 Still on matters of taste, what about this on a Delhi restaurant drinks menu:

Name your poison - toxic or tonic?

Back in Reunion a restaurant in Saint Denis has these offerings on its menu:

Drop in for dinner?

For those that don’t speak French the Crotin [sic] de Chèvre Chaud should be ‘Warm Goat’s Cheese’ in English and not ‘dung’! (These photos were also featured in The Telegraph’s ‘Sign Language’ ‘Best of January 2014′ photo gallery).

Here Souris [d'agneau] (knuckle of lamb) has been translated literally as ‘mouse’:

Puts a ro-dent in your appetite?

Things have improved however, as a few years ago filet was translated thoughout as ‘net’ instead of ‘fillet’, and cabot de fond (a type of fish) was translated as ‘dog bottom’!

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