Quite A Dingusy Translation


It’s apparently bad translation week here at One Foot Tsunami. Today’s edition starts with a rather garish Bentley convertible I recently saw here in Boston. The vehicle initially caught my eye because it was such a bright green, but I felt compelled to pull my phone out and take a picture because of the goofy vanity plate. I later posted that image to my Instagram account:

A photo captioned “Dingus”.[Photo courtesy of P. Kafasis]

“Dingus” is an informal English word that can be used to refer to an article whose name isn’t known or remembered, along the lines of “thing-a-ma-jig” or “doodad”. It’s also a pretty good insult, which Merriam-Webster defines as “a dim-witted, silly, or foolish person —often used in a joking or friendly way”. As such, it’s an amusing thing for someone to pay to have as their license plate.

My best guess is that this person wants to call other people on the road dinguses, but I read it as a self-applied description. Someone driving a $200,000+ car on the potholey streets of Boston? What a dingus.

Anyhow, given that this word can be found in an English dictionary, I found it strange for this to be offered under my caption:

A translationg of “Dingus” to “Missing Dinghamma in the past.” Weird.

Yes, Instagram is offering to translate my caption. What happens when we tap to see the translation?

A translationg of “Dingus” to “Missing Dinghamma in the past.” Weird.

Huh. That’s…something. More specifically, it’s something broken. By playing around with Google Translate, I was able to determine that “dingus” is the Lithuanian word for “missing” (or at least close to it). Still, I have no idea where “Dinghamma in the past.” came from. It would appear that the machines still have some learning to do.