– When President Obama pardoned two turkeys named “Honest” and “Abe” this Thanksgiving, most Americans understood the reference to Abraham Lincoln.

But in China, a translation mix-up saw the second turkey’s name rendered not as the one-syllable “Abe” but with two characters pronounced “ah-bay,” the same as those used in the name of Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe.

That lead to some merriment, with Netizens wondering whether the U.S. president had in fact compared his Japanese counterpart and ally to a bird.

“Abe should feel happy, because its American daddy is thinking about it,” one social media user wrote, while others were more direct. “Abe is just a chicken,” wrote one.

Many Chinese people resent Japan for not making amends for war crimes committed during its occupation of their country during World War II, while Abe is reviled by many for visiting a war shrine in Tokyo seen as a symbol of Japanese nationalism. 

According to the Associated Press, the faulty translation of Abe was published by state-run China Radio International and picked up by several other outlets.

A man who answered the CRI news hot line told the AP that editorial staff there had used the Web to translate the name “Abe.”

Stories from Chinese media outlets that properly translated the name were circulating, but not as widely.

The tradition of the president granting a “pardon” to a turkey at Thanksgiving has happened every year for the last quarter century, although President Lincoln may have been the first U.S. leader to spare one of the birds from the dinner table, reportedly because his son had taken a liking to it.

Source: http://www.startribune.com/