4

Google Translate gives

I can eat a glass

for

私はガラスを食べられます

The context is a file that can't be read because the filename contains Japanese characters. When a certain PHP function is asked to read the file bug69753私はガラスを食べられます.xml, it ignores all the Japanese characters and tries to read bug69753.xml instead.

I'm assuming the Japanese contains a self-referential joke, but I don't get it. Has Google Translate provided a good translation? What's the joke in the message?

  • The 69753 might be a goroawase – Boondoggle Oct 20 at 17:04
  • @Boondoggle Unfortunately not. It's simply the bug number. Bug numbers are assigned sequentially and have no other significance. – CJ Dennis Oct 20 at 22:47
  • I thought perhaps something like 無効な誤差 in case that an invalid error value was returned, but I can imagine other goroawase can be created from the number 69753 – Boondoggle Oct 21 at 8:15
17

To explain the phrase, it seems the phrase 'I can eat glass, it doesn't hurt me' was collected in a variety of languages by someone at Harvard University in the 1990s.

https://web.archive.org/web/19990116232350/http://hcs.harvard.edu/~igp/glass.html
"The Project is based on the idea that people in a foreign country have an irresistable urge to try to say something in the indigenous tongue. In most cases, however, the best a person can do is "Where is the bathroom?" a phrase that marks them as a tourist. But, if one says "I can eat glass, it doesn't hurt me," you will be viewed as an insane native, and treated with dignity and respect."

This multilingual set of collated text seems to have then been used as an example phrase to test multilingual text encoding support in various circumstances.
https://www.w3.org/2002/Talks/0328-Amsterdam-IH/i18nslide.svgz (2002)
http://www.columbia.edu/~fdc/utf8/index.html#glass (2011~?)

In summary, it's a deliberately-insane phrase penned in America, translated, and used as an example where foreign text was required.
It holds no profound meaning in Japanese, nor English. A fluent speaker would likely use a more appropriate example text, so I would suggest the author knew no other Japanese phrases.

  • 1
    Oh, God. That page is so 90's it hurts my eyes. Who in their right mind thought a repeating tiling of chaotic colour patterns were a good idea to use as background? It's almost worthy of a seizure warning. Cool project, though. – Arthur Oct 21 at 8:54
  • 2
    @Arthur what else would you expect from someone who can eat glass? – muru Oct 21 at 10:25
7

The translation of Google Translate is almost fine, but ガラス is not a glass for drinking but glass as material. See this question. I don't think it's a well-known idiom, proverb, joke, cliche, etc. It's just a weird Japanese sentence that is grammatical but nonsensical.

Anyway, how is this bug related to the meaning of the Japanese text?

  • I have no idea. Perhaps the characters are as transparent as glass (not seen by PHP) and are eaten (removed)? – CJ Dennis Oct 20 at 3:51
  • @CJDennis I strongly doubt this sentence has such a profound implication. As I said, it's nothing more than an almost-nonsensical Japanese sentence. – naruto Oct 20 at 3:56
  • Anyway, it is better to consider every possibility when tackling a bug in software development – jarmanso7 Oct 20 at 10:38

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