That is completely refulgent

I’ve seen my fair share of awful translations into English, which I forgive because most of the time they are hilarious, and I imagine that the people who commissioned them probably don’t have much more than an online translator available to help them.

Sometimes, though, I come across words that look like legitimate English words, but I have no idea what they mean. Sometimes I can glean a fair idea from the context, but there are times when I just have to look up the word to see what they are talking about. I don’t know why, but people seem to pick the most obscure or out-of-date words they can when doing formal translations.

I was editing an English translation of a Chinese document and one of the sentences said that there was no disporting allowed in the office. The word sounds like the opposite of porting, whatever that might mean. Or does it have something to do with sport? Teleporting? Apparently it means “To amuse oneself in a light, frolicsome manner”. Like, to frolic. I guess the sentence wanted to say ‘no jacking around’ or ‘no horseplay’.

I remember once reading a placard in a museum that said that the museum’s city was aiming to be refulgent. This one I had no idea about at the time. There’s something about the F that makes me think it might be a negative word, but the context was completely positive. I had to satisfy my curiosity later and looked it up. It means “to shine brightly”, which I guess is a fine ambition for a city.

Have you found yourself learning new words in your own language through the efforts of non-native speakers?

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