Dodgy translation blamed for Hanoi honking - The Durian - Hanoi's Smelliest News

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Dodgy translation blamed for Hanoi honking

Hoàn Kiếm, Hanoi - In a breaking update to a previously-published report by The Durian (Send not to know for whom the horn honks, for it honks for you’), our investigative reporters have uncovered evidence that the excessive honking by Hanoi road users stems from an unfortunate mistranslation of a Haynes manual.

The Haynes manual in question ­– for the 1976-83 Ford Fiesta – was originally brought to Vietnam by an intrepid backpacker from Scunthorpe in the years shortly after the country was liberated. Coinciding with the rapid importation of cheap motorcycles, and a dearth of automotive expertise, ad-hoc mechanics began springing up along the capital city’s growing road network.

In a fit of generosity following an excessive “bia hoi sesh”, the owner of the Haynes manual offered to translate the document relying on his rudimentary Vietnamese.  

In doing so, the young man inadvertently confused the word ‘brake’ for ‘horn’, leading to a generation of Vietnamese mechanics wiring the two together.

This unfortunate error meant that not only do most of Hanoi’s motorcycles beep when they brake, but newer road users have adopted this style of driving, understanding it as completely normal.

In addition to the mistranslation, approximately one third of the original manual – covering road safety and routine maintenance – was used to start a roadside fire and cook chicken.

Larry Lancaster, a long-term resident of Hanoi’s Backpacker Hostel, said he realised the fault after purchasing an alleged Honda Win for $20 and half a bottle of chili sauce.

“I bought the bike so I could get to Quest Festival, but once I was out of the noisy city I realised it was honking every two minutes. Nobody else seemed to notice.” Larry explained.

Haynes Publishing Group declined to comment for this article.



The Durian is a satirical news outlet, all of our stories are completely fictional, designed only to amuse and entertain. Any resemblance to people living or dead is purely coincidental and in no way intended to hurt your feelings. Sorry for pointing out the obvious, but there’s an abundance of humourless morons out there.

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