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 and suggested by some of you. We hope you enjoy them.

If you come across funny or appalling mistranslations, feel free to share them with us.

  1. Crème brulée, New Caledonian style

One of our lucky freelance translators, Elinor, came from New Caledonia all relaxed and slightly burnt. While in the islands, she was quite amused by some of the ‘creative’ English translations on display. In one instance, a restaurant offered a ‘duet of creams burned house’. Luckily, it didn’t taste burnt, and the house remained standing.

  1. Baby food

Not a translation blunder per se, but definitely a lack of cultural awareness. As Gerber started selling baby food in Africa, they put a picture of a baby on the label of their jars, just as they do in Europe and the United States. The company was not aware of the common practice in some African markets of putting pictures of the contents on the labels since many consumers are illiterate. Many customers were left horrified.

  1. ‘Dumb passengers’ and other disabilities

Not only was Romania’s flag carrier TAROM recently found to be in breach of European disability discrimination rules, they also addressed people with cognitive impairments as ‘dumb passengers’ in English. They quickly apologised for this ‘regrettable mistake’.

Stefan