All translations are not equal. A good translation is one that conveys the same meaning as the source text and sounds natural in the target language (if that is the desired outcome of the translation). Some do just the opposite. Here are some of the greatest blunders found in translation, gathered from the Web. We hope you enjoy them.
If you come across funny mistranslations, feel free to share them with us.
- Dogs and pregnancy
Sri Lanka’s government has recently had to apologise for numerous errors in translations of official notices and documents into the language of the Tamil minority. One sign read ‘Reserved for pregnant mothers’ in Sinhala and English. The Tamil read ‘Reserved for pregnant dogs’. The government assured that they had not intended to insult the Tamil people. After a long civil war between the Sinhala-dominated army and the Tamil Tigers separatists, one would hope the government marked quality translations as a high priority.
- Public money down the drain
The Electoral Commissioner for South Australia, Kay Mousley, told ABC Radio Breakfast that the Arabic translation on ‘Easy Vote’ cards sent to 1.14 million voters is ‘gibberish’. She said they have now set up a Facebook link to a translation that makes sense… An expensive mistake for South Australian taxpayers.
- BBC’d out
The BBC recently encountered a number of subtitling issues. Although the subtitles weren’t translations, they were quite funny. Some were rather offensive, others simply puzzling. Take for instance the name of famous Manchester United footballer Adnan Junazaj whose name became ‘Janet jazz jazz jam’. There are lots of other examples…