What does his phrase on my bag mean?
August 28, 2015 11:48 PM   Subscribe

I live in northern Uganda. I bought a bag at the market that has this phrase on the back: "Fashionadle lie fallow mountaineer wrap sport SPORT". I've seen many of these bags with the same phrase in many different towns. I would like to know whose job it was to decide what gets printed on the bag, and how they ended up with that phrase.

I'm not intending to find the specific person who made this (though that would be amazing). Rather, in the business of mass producing cheap bags for export to Uganda/Africa, whose job would it have been to decide what gets written on the bag?

Then, when that person comes to choose a phrase to go on this new line of bags, how did they end up with 'Fashionadle lie fallow mountaineer wrap sport SPORT'? Could they have started with a phrase and used a thesaurus to disastrous effect? What was that initial phrase? I just can't imagine the starting point that would lead to this result.

I am aware that this is a shot in the dark and the best I can hope for is probably just various levels of educated guesses, but I'd love to find out what I can.

Thanks in advance!
posted by twirlypen to Clothing, Beauty, & Fashion (10 answers total) 10 users marked this as a favorite
My guess would be a Chinese designer using automatic translation to disastrous/hilarious effect. See Victor Mair's posts at Language Log for many, many examples.
posted by col_pogo at 11:53 PM on August 28, 2015 [5 favorites]

Response by poster: I think you're right, col_pogo, but I'm trying to find out what that designed put into the translator to get that output. Can the process be reversed?
posted by twirlypen at 12:08 AM on August 29, 2015

Wild guess at the initial phrase / intended meaning: fashionable off-season mountaineer bundle, extra sporty?
posted by Monsieur Caution at 1:14 AM on August 29, 2015 [3 favorites]

Best answer: Also from Language Log, it looks like "lie fallow" is a common mis-translation when the original word is "leisure".
posted by ellenaim at 6:31 AM on August 29, 2015 [7 favorites]

this article about bags may be of interest
posted by bq at 8:02 AM on August 29, 2015

I'm guessing "Fashionadle" is a typo for "fashionable."
posted by Johnny Wallflower at 9:01 AM on August 29, 2015

Best answer: "Wrap" in Chinese is the same word as "bag" or "pack."
posted by zjacreman at 11:38 AM on August 29, 2015 [1 favorite]

Best answer: "Fashionable leisure mountaneer sport bag" almost makes sense. I wonder if "mountaneer" has other Chinese meanings.
posted by Johnny Wallflower at 12:03 PM on August 29, 2015

Best answer: I just had a look on translate.google.com (bad practice I know, but since that's probably how the design was arrived at...)

登山運動 was offered as one possible translation of "mountaineering" but it consists of "mountaineer"(vb.) + "sport". Possibly "Fashionable leisure mountaineering bag" was intended.
posted by Wrinkled Stumpskin at 5:23 PM on August 29, 2015

Response by poster: The 'lie fallow' = 'leisure' and 'wrap' = 'bag' clues are pretty good - thanks everyone!
posted by twirlypen at 3:18 AM on August 30, 2015

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