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Below are the 20 most recent journal entries recorded in When translations go wrong.'s LiveJournal:

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Wednesday, November 19th, 2008
9:49 am
In a pamphlet for tourists, badly translated from French to English, describing the riches of a cathedral:
"Organs of the 18th century". No, they don't mean relics of saints, but the musical instrument.

Current Mood: amused
Monday, July 28th, 2008
2:19 pm
English to hebrew translation

Dear friends,
I need to translate the following title into Hebrew: "In the Grip of the European Spectre"
Thank you

Tuesday, October 2nd, 2007
4:27 pm
Hi, I'm new to this community. Nice to have found you. My name is Renée, I'm Dutch, live in The Hague, Holland and am translator by profession.

I didn't really go through all the posts, so perhaps this is old news, but here you can find some very funny translations in public establishments. :D

Current Mood: amused
Tuesday, March 20th, 2007
1:05 pm
Various bits of bad French
This number's not just toll-free but fruit-free too:
Appelez sans fraise

On a box of flowering bulbs:
Usine maintenant !
('Plant now')

Have a cookie:
Gaufrettes aux noisettes enrobers de chocolote
Tuesday, February 6th, 2007
2:02 pm
Of course!
A string from a software I'm translating. It has either been written by non-native English speakers or badly translated into English.

"Jungfrau must be initialized prior to usage."

My first reaction was: easy, you just have to find the right button.

(For those who don't speak German, "Jungfrau" means "virgin".)

Current Mood: amused
Saturday, January 20th, 2007
5:14 pm
May I take your order?
nkcmike pointed me to this nice little menu.


Current Mood: amused
Monday, September 25th, 2006
12:00 pm
Amongst the various terrible things I saw in the packaging and instructions for a lock, this one really stood out:

Drive-in configuration -> conduier-dans configuration

Even if there wasn't a typo for "conduire" (en. to drive a vehicle), that would still make no sense whatsoever.

We barely managed to install the thing, all thanks to the images.

The thing offered protection against "pioches" ([lock-]picks) and "regards indiscrets" (prying).
Thursday, August 24th, 2006
5:39 pm
Fatheaded ovens in Czech

Quoted, with permission, from a post in grammarpolice by dawntreader90:

Someone in our office brought two boxes of "Spa Bread" (translated from Czech) which are these flat, wafer-looking, frisbee-sized cookies. These bits of "sturdy bread" are actually tasty.

But the best part is the translation on the back of the box where they advise you how to eat them. Apparently, they taste best when you warm them in "the roaster fathead or the microwave fathead." It also advises you not to "overwarm them." (This must be a common problem with the fatheads in Czechoslovakia.)

I wanted to know at what point does "oven" in Czech become "fathead" in English?

According to my friend, apparently troube with the u-shaped accent over the e is oven, but trouba is fathead.

Another friend suggested that they merely left out the comma and meant to say, "To warm, put it in the roaster, fathead!"

As it turns out, it's even worse than dawntreader90's friend claims. Czech is an inflectionary language, so trouba and troubě are one and the same word, which can mean either 'oven' or 'fathead.' Not quite sure how that particular homonym came about, but it is most definitely there... here's a Czech dictionary to check (no pun intended) for yourself.

Indeed, a search for microwave fathead on Google turns up several results, all of them from Czech sites...

Tuesday, August 22nd, 2006
7:46 pm
On the back of a dessert I bought the other day:

1. Libérez le compartiment coulis en abaissant les deux languettes comme indiqué sur le dessin.

1. Release the purée department by pushing down the two strips as indicated.

2. Nappez votre Panna Cotta et régalez vous!

2. Spread the purée on your Panna Cotta and have a delicious!

3. Ou dégustez tour à tour la Panna Cotta et le coulis

3. Or taste in turn the Panna cotta and the purée

Incidentally, the "purée" in question is maple syrup.....

Current Mood: hungry
Thursday, August 17th, 2006
10:30 pm

Oh, this is just classic. From the BBC:

Cyclists were left confused by a bilingual road sign telling them they had problems with an inflamed bladder.

The "cyclists dismount" sign between Penarth and Cardiff became "llid y bledren dymchwelyd" in Welsh - literally "bladder inflammation upset" (or tip or overturn).

Wednesday, August 2nd, 2006
7:53 pm
Hey Translators!!!
Hi my name is Ivan, I'm from Peru, so my mother tongue is Spanish. I'm studying Translation and Interpretation, I'm in my first year, 4 remaining. I'd like to have lots of friends from this community because I think people that is in the translation world really RULE!!!
Well in order to cooperate and comment here I have a phrase that made me laugh the first time a heard it, it continues doing it, I hope you find it funny:

A friend of once tried to translate (Spanish to English) the phrase: A mi amigo le encantan los animales como a mí. Well he said: "My friend loves animals like me."
Translations going...totally wrong.

Current Mood: ditzy
Monday, July 24th, 2006
2:16 pm
More Chinese Stuff
I know it's nothing but I have to share it!

Bought a children's T-shirt yesterday. Presumably, Chinese -- can't be anything else judging by the label.

The label had a chart on it with three entries, to calculate the right size. It went:

Time of Life

Which stood for Age, Child's Height *in centimetres* and Size.

Hi all, I'm awfully happy to join.

Thursday, March 23rd, 2006
5:05 am
french translation gone wrong
This is what happens when people rely on programs to translate!
This is from a skating forum:

In French:
Plot 1 : Les pieds se croisent en marche avant avec le pied droit devant vers la diagonale avant droite. Plot 2 : Les pieds sont croisés en marche arrière avec le pied droit devant vers la diagonale arrière gauche. Le mouvement consiste à alterner ces deux phases de croisé avant et croisé arrière de profil.
In English:
Stud 1: The feet cross moving front with the right foot in front of worms the diagonal before right-hand side. Stud 2: The feet are cross in reverse gear with the right foot in front of worms the diagonal postpones left. The movement consists in alternating these two phases of cross before and cross back of profile.

I'd be very confused if i didn't know french and read that in english :P
Sunday, March 19th, 2006
3:38 am
Seen in a Japanese store
On a package of undetermined food:

"Calmar chevronné"

I looked at it and wondered and wondered what that might mean. Some technical term I didn't know? But then I looked at the English version and understood it all... "Seasoned Squid" was the content of the package. As you know, seasoned can mean two things: 1) with added seasoning or 2) experienced.

You guessed it, the English equivalent of "calmar chevronné" would be "experienced squid".

Thursday, March 16th, 2006
11:28 pm
Even technical documents don't fare too well when given the machine translation treatment. Par exemple, mon PowerBook a deux ports de câble d'incendie...

(Yep, that's right. "FireWire"!)
Wednesday, March 8th, 2006
4:41 pm
A couple of bad (good?) ones to introduce myself.
Hi all,

I'm a translation student (French to English program) @ the University of Ottawa, and I too delight in making fun of bad translations. To introduce myself to this community, I thought I'd share a hilarious news article from the Montréal Gazette that discusses an online government job bank and its automated translation system. I nearly died laughing when I read a truncated version of this article in the Ottawa Citizen.

Here's the link to the article in question, but the highlights are:

- translating Montreal's north and south shores (Rive Sud and Rive Nord) as "Rivet the South" and "Rivets the North"
- a job listing for an orderly: "Raise or sleep the beneficiaries, the care of hygiene, donner the meals."
- the statement that a home-care nurse needs to be able to "lavish doins"
- and funniest of all, a posting for a secretarial job that requires the candidate to have "regularity."

Another incredibly funny bad translation I have is one on a box of noodles owned by one of my colleagues from school. The noodles were made in China, but instead of "Chine", the French side proudly proclaimed that the noodles were "Fait en porcelaine." *Shakes head in disbelief*

That's all from me. Glad to be a part of this community! :D

Current Mood: cheerful
Tuesday, February 21st, 2006
8:26 pm
Introducing myself
Hi all!
I am an English-Portuguese translator from Portugal, and nothing amuses me more than a totally screwed up text that's been either through a machine translator or the hands of a lunatic. This may turn into trouble if the so-called "translator" catches you giggling and pointing at the text but, hey!, we all have the right to make mistakes and laugh at them, don't we?

I can die, but at least mount to laugh 
(Babel Fish version of my motto - Posso morrer, mas pelo menos morro a rir)
Sunday, January 1st, 2006
3:06 pm
While out shopping today, I saw an Xbox 360 controller with the text on the attached label printed in both English and French... except that the French was obviously translated by someone who absolutely knew none of the language whatsoever.

The details about the controller on the back of the label were passable, but the primary text on the front of the level, "control pad," was translated quite wrongly as "contrôler le coussin." Yes... to control the cushion. ::headdesk::

I wish I could've gotten a picture of this, but I was having some difficulty getting my camera phone to focus on it... ::sigh::
Thursday, November 24th, 2005
3:36 pm
Russgliskiy? Engrussian?
I got this in a spam today... on top of the apparently machine-translated English, the message was sent as HTML but with a text/plain content type, thus meaning that it was full of unreadable HTML junk. I've cleaned that part up here, but the wording is completely preserved from the original.

I, mum Nastya Gontarovski, address to you with the request to help to rescue my unique daughter...Collapse )
Monday, October 24th, 2005
11:58 am
San Francisco city's poor online translation
Phil Ting, San Francisco's assessor-recorder, is trying to tackle the city's poor online translation services on its Web site:

"Some of the translation errors are significant enough to impair users' understanding of site content. The English phrase "types of property assessed" was translated into Chinese as "category belonging being assessed." Software translating into Spanish translates "properties" as "characteristics" and "City Hall" as "city corridor.""
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