Archive for Lost in translation

Feel free to play this piano

While passing through Hartsfield Atlanta airport a few weeks back, Neil Dolinger passed a piano located in a place where passersby could freely play it.  A sign nearby (see photograph below) encourages this in 12 different languages:

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Dangerous entrance

Photo taken by Ori Tavor in Beijing at the Bank of China next to Hepingmen subway station:

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Go Believe

Zeyao Wu sent in this sign on a restaurant:

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Hungarian trenching

From Adrian Bailey:

Although Google Translate isn't too bad now for the big 8 languages, the results for other languages can still be quite bizarre and/or disappointing. I used to do some Hungarian-English translation 15-20 years ago, and the machine translation available then hardly seems much worse…

Engedjetek meg nekem a tegezést. Angolként bajom van a magázással.

Google's translation: Let me do the trenching. I'm an English guy with shit.

Actual meaning: Let me tegez you (ie. use the informal forms for "you"). As an Englishman, I have trouble with the formal forms.

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I found this by chance while surfing on Pinterest:

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Adrian Bailey sent in this Yemeni restaurant menu from @wokeeth's Twitter account:

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"Boiled Blood Curd" and "Semi-rotted Vegetables Cake"

Menu items at the Asia Bistro, Marriott Hotel, Suzhou, China, courtesy of Thomas Malphus:

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"Do civilized BJ men"

Zeyao Wu found this photograph on Weibo (a Twitter-like microblogging website in China):

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Too hard to translate soup

From a menu in a restaurant in Oxford, Ohio:

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Annals of cross-linguistic advertising blunders

Or maybe it was a genius move — the coverage hasn't quantified the effect on brand recognition and sales.  Jelisa Castrodate, "Mountain Dew Mistakenly Tells All of Scotland to Masturbate for 'Epic Thrills'", Vice 8/29/2018:

Not terribly long ago, The Scotsman newspaper printed a helpful list of 15 words that have alternate meanings in Scotland. It pointed out that pudding has nothing to do with a Jell-O mix but is often a sausage made from pigs’ blood, that messages means grocery shopping, and that if you mince something, you’ve pretty much effed it up.

Unfortunately, the paper failed to include chug on the list, which is why Mountain Dew UK is being dragged across Scottish Twitter for inadvertently telling everyone that they’re chronic masturbators.

On Monday, Mountain Dew UK tweeted a .gif of a visibly sweating twentysomething downing a bottle of neon yellow soda. (He’s tanning it, if you want to dust off another piece of Scottish vocab.) “Epic Thrills Start with a Chug,” it says—which is why everyone from Elgin to Dumfries started giggling to themselves.

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I was recently a week late submitting a report to an administrative department of a French university, and experienced a moment of panic when I saw that the response began "J'accuse …"

But it turns out that in "J'accuse bonne réception ce jour de votre rapport", the French verb accuser can just mean something like "register" or "acknowledge".

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Blindly busy

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