A few weeks ago, I noticed an odd translation for the lock-equipped luggage racks aboard Japan Railway's new Narita Express trains:
When the set combination is forgotten, it becomes a delivery of the spare prick in the train terminal station.
What the hell? The Japanese is straightforward enough:
Which gives us, normally,
If you forget your combination, your luggage will be returned to you at the final stop.
So whither the "prick"?
After doing some poking around (huh, huh) online, I realized that the N'Ex is just one victim -- there seem to be other examples throughout Japan. And I think I've managed to discover the culprit. It appears to be none other than Excite Japan! Try giving the above sentences a whirl through Excite Japan's online translation service. Hell, just send お荷物 (luggage) through:
So there we have it. Intriguingly, Excite Japan's translation tool (huh, huh) is apparently powered by a company called BizLingo, sold by Accela Technology for the low, low monthly licensing fee of 119,000 yen per CPU (additional CPUs just 69,000 yen each, with a 250,000 yen setup fee.) Who knows what kind of deal they've cut with an online provider like Excite, but whatever the case, this particular system seems to be responsible for a rash of spare pricks across Japan.
But why "spare prick?" It is so far beyond the ken of the usual bad machine translation that its appearance has shocked even normally oblivious-to-Engrish native Japanese speakers. This blog theorizes that it may be an extrapolation from やっかい者, someone who is a "burden" to have around. やっかい者 also happens to be the translation of a British idiom I'd never heard before, "like a spare prick at a wedding," thus giving us a connection, however convoluted, to the spare pricks aboard the Narita Express.
Now you know. And knowing is half the battle, when it comes to extra genitalia.