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 or appalling mistranslations, feel free to share them with us.
- Interpreting creatively
Yet another South African interpretation fiasco has been widely covered by the media. During the Oscar Pistorius trial, former policeman Colonel Giliam van Rensburg testified in Afrikaans: ‘…the person was already dead when the paramedics arrived…’ The interpreter translated ‘the body died on their arrival’. After the appalling performance of the sign language interpreter at Mandela’s memorial ceremony, one may wonder what is going on in the interpreting community of South Africa.
- Don’t take the lift
You don’t know what may happen. In Belgrade, Serbia, a sign in a lift reads: ‘To move the cabin, push button for wishing floor. If the cabin should enter more persons, each one should press a number of wishing floor. Driving is then going alphabetically by national order.’ Tourists may be confused.
- French values
The French are famous for being less prudish than Anglo-Saxons. A sign in a Parisian hotel confirms just that by daringly asking clients to ‘leave [their] values at the front desk’. A bit ‘olé olé’, isn’t it?