Lost in Translation – The Shipping Industry

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Those of you who have tip-toed through this blog, or have generally loitered in the corners while I have been writing away, will know that my business is marine safety stuff. (Shameless plug for work website here.)
Most of our business is “B2B” with large shipping companies, ship managers and their ilk. Part of my job is to keep tabs on the vessels calling in NZ and that entails spending a lot of time chasing down potential clients and keeping our contact records up to date. Now this is usually pretty dull stuff. Routine, in fact.
But you may not have factored in the idea that many vessels are owned by non-English speaking companies. Can you see what’s coming?
Yes, this is the quirky, funny and plain bizarre world of commercial ship names.
I kid you not, all of the below names are actually painted or embossed on the rear end of a commercial ship somewhere near you.

Note: If at first you don’t get it, repeat the name faster and with a slight slur.

  • Deja Bhum
  • Kang Fu
  • Mass Wits
  • Peng Wen
  • Yong Tong (almost a Goons moment)
  • Bum Ik
  • Sobre World (hopefully on this vessel anyway)
  • Pu He
  • Millennium Falcon (for the sci-fi buffs out there)
  • Please Please Me
  • Joyoboyo 1
  • Funky (and it’s sister ship…)
  • Smarty
  • Fart (this is a very old tug(1907), from Finland, perhaps the age explains all)
  • Man Kee (for those with an appreciation of Scots slang)
  • Man Shun (for those without spellcheck)
  • Sunko (maybe not such a good choice for a ship name)
  • Itchen
  • Monkez 1
  • Flipper (great for a dolphin, but just asking for trouble as a ship name)
  • Santa Claus (a chemical tanker of all things! Whatever he’s bringing, I don’t want it.)

And this is just from my whip around the ‘net today.
Feel free to share any “lost in translation” items in the comments. I’m sure my industry isn’t the only one with quirks of translation.

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