Posted: 20 October 2015 07:13 AM   [ Ignore ]
Total Posts:  4060
Joined  2007-02-26

Amusing tale of mistranslation:

Somewhere in Indonesia there is a truck going about with DONT’ RICH PEOPLE DIFFICULT painted on the back, and pictures of it have been circulating.among Indonesians for a while now. The apostrophe is the icing on the cake.

When I first saw it I figured it was just another piece of random bad English but it has since been explained to me.

There’s an expression in somewhat slangy Javanese, “Jangan kaya orang susah”. Taken most literally this means “Don’t be like poor people” but the implied meaning, I am told, is “If you have money, don’t be stingy and drive a hard bargain.”
Jangan = Don’t
kaya = like (ie similar to)
orang = people
susah = difficult

Note that any adjective in Javanese can also be a verb: so while kaya means “like” normally, after Jangan it is understood to mean “be like”.
Although orang means people and susah by itself means difficult, the phrase “orang susah” means poor people, troubled people.

Kaya means “like” in Javanese but in Bahasa Indonesia there is a completely different word kaya meaning rich.

So it seems likely that someone just did a translation of the Javanese expression “Jangan kaya orang susah”, one word at a time, into English, but using the assumption that you’re translating from Bahasa Indonesia. The late apostrophe is just the icing on the cake.

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