Often the use of machine or amateur translation yields absurd results. Below are some humorous examples of translations gone bad.
Translation Fails: The Perils of Machine Translation
When you directly translate a word or phrase from one language into another, it doesn’t always make sense. However, this is the method used by most machine translation systems. Even the simplest of sentences can end up with significant changes in meaning. These funny mistranslations make us smile, but only if they don’t affect your business!
Funny Russian to English Translations
1) In one hotel in Russia, the door signs may confuse English-speaking guests since they read “Please remove the room” and “Please do not worry.” The correct translation of these signs, “Please make up the room” (“Просьба убрать номер”) and “Please do not disturb,” (“Просьба не беспокоить”) are much less amusing.
2) A sign at the Sochi Olympics in Russia promised a mysterious “Shower of Sensation” (“Душ впечатлений”).
… and Funny English to Russian Translations
3) “The Closer” is an American TV series about a cop who nearly always closes (solves) cases. Its name in Russian, “Ищейка,” (pronounced Ischeyka) comes from the verb искать (to search). The word ищейка means a tracker dog or a hound dog, and in this case a detective who hounds criminals.
Funny Chinese to English Translations
4) If you make noise when stepping on this grass you are likely to interrupt its dreams! In Mandarin Chinese the sign literally reads: “Grass is resting, DO NOT DISTURB.”
5) In one Hong Kong supermarket there is a sign encouraging brave shopping that in English directly translates as “For your convenience, we recommend courageous, efficient self-service.”
6) The sign in Chinese is meant to keep away curious, unwanted visitors. It is not in any way associated with live pigs as the sign would have you believe in English “Do not come into the pig world.”
7) The English sign “Please don’t be edible” in Chinese actually reads “Please don’t eat food that you have brought here from outside.”
… and Funny English to Chinese Translations
8) The Chinese title which reads in English “His Great Device Makes Him Famous” is not an obvious translation of the movie title of the American movie called “Boogie Nights.” Nevertheless, film connoisseurs may argue that it gives more insight into the movie and may actually be a better title.
Funny English to Spanish Translations
9) Should I exit here, or is this where one lines up for success? In Spanish the word “éxito” actually means “success” rather than “exit” which when correctly translated is “salida.”
10) The word “Hex” has been translated in Spanish as “evil eye” (“mal de ojo“) from the English word meaning to put a hex on someone. But hex mats are simply mats with a hexagonal grid on top.
… and Funny Spanish to English Translations
11) At one hotel in Acapulco, Mexico there is a sign which may permanently turn all English speakers away from drinking the water. It reads: “The manager has personally passed all the water served here.”
Please send us any funny machine translations that you have come across and we will include them in our next issue of “Lost in Translation”.
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