Luck in Translation

And if you are unconvinced to the detrimental effects of bad translation, here are some results to prove my point:

Japanese hotel room – You are invited to take advantage of the chambermaid.

Paris hotel elevator – Please leave your values at the front desk.

Tokyo hotel – It is forbidden to steal hotel towels please. If you are not a person to do such a thing is please not read this notice.

Bucharest hotel – The list is being fixed for the next day. During this time you will be unbearable.

Leipzig elevator – Do not enter the lift backwards, and only when lit up.

Athens hotel – Visitors are expected to complain at the office between the hours of 9 and 11am daily.

Belgrade elevator – 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 then going alphabetically in national order.

Sarajevo hotel – The flattening of underwear with pleasure is the job of the chambermaid.

Moscow hotel – You are welcome to visit the cemetery where famous Russian and Soviet composers, artists and writers are buried daily except Thursday.

Swiss menu – Our wines leave you nothing to hope for.

Hong Kong tailors shop – Ladies may have a fit upstairs.

Bangkok dry cleaners – Drop your trousers here for best results.

Paris dress shop – Dresses for street walking.

Rhodes tailor shop – Order your summer suit. Because is big rush we will execute customers in strict rotation.

Hong Kong advert – Teeth extracted by the latest methodists.

Rome laundry – Ladies, leave your clothes here and spend the afternoon having a good time.

Swiss mountain inn – Special today… no ice cream.

Copenhagen airline – We take your bags and send them in all directions.

Moscow hotel – If this is your first visit to the USSR, you are welcome to it.

Norwegian lounge – Ladies are requested not to have children in the bar.

Tokyo shop – Our nylons cost more than common but they are better for the long run.

Acapulco hotel – The manager has personally passed all the water served here.

Airline staff from all around the world, proving that bad translations can transcend all borders and all languages, compiled this list.

Translation is not an exercise viagra and female in australia healthcare online viagra regurgitation, where you spit out the words you just chewed up.  Instead, it’s an effort to capture the true essence of the source subject and then eloquently re-phrasing it so that the target reader comprehends in totality what the author is trying to convey.  It’s not enough to put the words together like an Algebra problem so that is makes sense or so that it is balanced.  It’s important for the translation to have that Frankenstein It’s alive! moment.  The writer needs to understand why he/she has decided to translate or included a piece of work in their stories.  It’s also important to have a cultural understanding so that the translation makes sense.  Combining all these elements reduces the probability that anything will get lost in translation and thereby, increasing your luck in getting the translation right.


June 17, 2009

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