7:37 PM Anis Widayanti 0 Comments

Mark & Rachel pointed me to Victor Mair's recent post about the latest cover of Max Planck Institute's flagship publication, MaxPlanckForschung.

To honor the theme of the issue [China], the editors asked one of the journalists who worked for the magazine to find an elegant Chinese poem to grace the cover. This was the result:


No sooner had the journal fallen into the hands of Chinese readers than it set off a frenzy of indignation, uproarious laughter, and animated discussion.

This is a rough translation of what the text says:

With high salaries, we have cordially invited for an extended series of matinées

KK and Jiamei as directors, who will personally lead jade-like girls in the spring of youth,

Beauties from the north who have a distinguished air of elegance and allure,

Young housewives having figures that will turn you on;

Their enchanting and coquettish performance will begin within the next few days.

When the powers that be at MPI found out what the characters on the front of their journal actually said — they immediately issued the following heartfelt apology:

Dear Colleagues,

The cover of the most recent German-language edition of MaxPlanckForschung (3/2008) depicts a Chinese text which had been chosen by our editorial office in order to symbolically illustrate the magazine's focus on "China". Unfortunately, it has now transpired that this text contains inappropriate content of a suggestive nature.

Prior to publication, the editorial office had consulted a German sinologist for a translation of the relevant text. The sinologist concluded that the text in question depicted classical Chinese characters in a non-controversial context. To our sincere regret, however, it has now emerged that the text contains deeper levels of meaning, which are not immediately accessible to a non-native speaker.

By publishing this text we did in no way intend to cause any offence or embarrassment to our Chinese readers. The editors of MaxPlanckResearch sincerely regret this unfortunate error and would like to offer an unreserved apology to all of their Chinese readers for any upset or distress they may have caused.

The cover title has already been substituted in the online edition, and the English version of MaxPlanckForschung (MaxPlanckResearch, 4/2008) will be published with a different title.

We would ask you to forward this information to all Chinese scientists at your Institute. Please find attached the new version of the title. Perhaps you can distribute this print-out within your institute.

Here is the replacement cover:

(more at Language Log)

Update: The Independent UK - The original cover was a flyer from one of Macau's brothels.

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