Sarah Scott
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Photography

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Language Puns

This photo series explores the way language affects how we perceive reality. Translating words into a different language comes with many challenges.  A word may translate to a totally different concept in a foreign culture.

There are endless words in Mandarin, Chinese that have multiple meanings and connotations depending on the context. This makes advertising and the perception of foreign products very difficult.

Language Puns is an experiment on the relationship between literal and figurative meaning when translating from English to Chinese.

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面 Noodle / Face

Multiple words in Chinese have vastly different meanings depending on the context.

The word, Mian, has numerous meanings; one meaning is noodle and another is face. These photos represent those multiple meanings. 

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手机 Cell Phone / 

Machine Hand

Chinese characters can be referred to as puzzle pieces and building blocks.

For example cellphone in Chinese, Shou Ji 手机, directly translates to hand machine. Shou means hand and Ji means machine. These photos are a play on the literal meaning.

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茄子 Eggplant

There are many times when translating English words to Chinese, the Chinese assign characters that sound like the English word; however, the meaning does not make sense in Chinese. 

In China people say “qie zi” instead of “say cheese” because it sounds similar to the English words. Qie Zi actually means eggplant.