Noble Sweetness


A kind care package came for me from somebody recently returned from a tour in Japan. One of the items was this chocolate biscuit. English translation reads, special chocolate with noble sweetness.

Translations can make you smile. Years ago we had some traveling altar boxes sent to us at Shasta from Japan. They were free sample items and included incense. The translation on the packet went something like, You are/will be like the peppermint wind!

And even when we are all speaking the same language what is said can be enhanced, embellished, changed and otherwise translated into interesting new forms. But not malicious. For the most part, we hear, we enhance then mercifully we forget.

Sometimes of course one can take what is said, or written, personally. It helps to remember that most likely the intention was not to hurt the reader or listener. Perhaps good at such times to remember noble sweetness even when the taste is bitter.

Many thanks for the package from Canada where they are having a huge amount of snow. In Edmonton anyway.

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6 thoughts on “Noble Sweetness”

  1. As a language teacher this is one of my favorite things, yes, there is a “noble sweetness” when people speak another language or translate and make lovely, wonderful mistakes. Nice to know in life that some mistakes can be lovely and wonderful and often lead to new ways of seeing and thinking about things. It also helps to see our own language in another light. I also remember an Italian woman in my German class when I first came to Germany and she asked the teacher, “When am I going to lose my terrible Italian accent in German?” The teacher was really great and said, “Why would you want to do that, it’s what makes the language yours.” I thought that was a very good answer. And as a language teacher, you learn how important it is to smile and laugh with the language.

  2. I can’t resist sharing Reverend Mildred’s wonderful story. Reverend Mildred was Swiss German. She went into a cake shop when in Reading, England one time & asked for a cross bun. When this seemed to result in some confusion she explained to us that she didn’t actually want a hot one, it was fine cold.

  3. Yes that story has been told many times and it came to mind when I was writing this post. Your full version is much appreciated. I had forgotten, or perhaps never knew, WHY she didn’t say _hot_ cross bun.

    It is coming up to seven years since she died. RIP Reverend.

  4. Yes indeed, how important it is to smile and laugh around missed communications. At one time one of our communities had configured into quite an international community. One thing that always raised a smile was when a monk, with an accent, took phone messages! The message was heard and conveyed with an accent, sometimes rendering some very funny messages :-o However due sensitivity has to be exercised, of course.

  5. Reverend Mildred couldn’t understand why we fell about laughing at the idea of this bad-tempered bun. She complained that English is such an inconsistent language and she was quite right. How was she to know that “cross” had more than one meaning and I can’t explain why a ‘hot cross bun’ is known as that – the cross as a sign yes, but hot?
    It reminds me of trying to say in French when I was 14 that I was full up after eating a meal. They laughed as I apparently mistakenly said I was pregnant (pleine).

  6. Like your 14 year old adventure. They would have laughed. They laughed at almost everything I have tried to say in French, Try asking for a brown loaf of bread in French. In translation back to English something like ‘bread complete’. I do try though and the laughter has some element of sympathy and perhaps gladness we Brits do at least try.

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