July 29, 2004

Matti, Nanashi and Fred

Robin Stocks at Carob (a blog) has a fascinating list of John Doe equivalents around the world, occasioned by a translation error in German stories about recent events in Michael Jackson's trial. The child involved in the trial is referred to as "John Doe" for the sake of anonymity, but apparently someone didn't get it, and so the papers write about "die Aufenthalte der Familie Doe" and the like.

I'm not sure that the German references are really wrong, since "Doe" is presumably what the court papers actually said, but anyhow, it's interesting to learn about Matti Meikalainaen (Finland) [which I think is a typo for "Meikalainen", originally the fault of Blick Online], Nanashi No Gombe (Japan), Fred Nurk (Australia) and the rest of them.

[Update: Erin McKean at Verbatim Magazine has re-posted a 2002 column by Nick Humez on the same subject.]

Posted by Mark Liberman at July 29, 2004 10:27 AM