Sunday, July 19, 2009


Mistranslations can be full of erotic innuendos. You just have to have an open mind and look around you.

I bought "Lost in Translation" by Charlie Croker because I could not stop laughing aloud at Borders and staff was beginning to eye me with suspicion. He has a great blog going on with all the new stuff at various not-so-well-translated tourist destinations worldwide. I strongly recommend the reading if you are (a) bored, (b) depressed or (c) burnt out as a translator or copywriter. The fun is endless.

Just for a taste, here we go:

In front of construction works at Bolivian airport: Sorry for the bother

Above basin in toilet on train, China: Don’t throw things in the pond

Sign on windy road in the Himalayas: Be mild on my curves

Small hotel, Cornwall: Will any guest wishing to take a bath please make arrangements to have one with Mrs Harvey

Munich, Germany: In your room you will find a minibar which is filled with alcoholics

At a wadi in Oman: Drowning accidents are now popular

Czech Republic: We like 2 please our customers but if u r unhappy please see the manager who will give u total satisfaction

In Japanese national park containing monkeys: You had better deposit your baggage into the charge free lockers or it will be ours. But we are not interested in your camera. We do not like to be stared at our eyes. If you do so, we are not responsible for what will happen. We do not hope to be such a monkey. Please, refrain from feeding us

Toledo, Spain: Frozen ice available here

Dydo coffee, Japan: There’s a gallon of deliciousness in every drop

Notice on a door in Sana’a, Yemen: Physio the rapist

Sign outside cottage hospital, Caribbean: Dont (sic) park here, hearse calls daily

“Emergency exit” sign at Beijing Airport: Do no use in peacetime

On snack handed out on China Southern Airways: Airline Pulp

In Japanese car park: Please get a punch at window No 2

Restaurant, France: Fish soup with rust and croutons

Restaurant, France: A confection of plugs and geysers

Restaurant, Switzerland: Half a lawyer with prawns

Restaurant, Yaroslav, Russia: Lorry driver soup

Restaurant, Kos: Kiss Lorraine

Restaurant, China: Dumpling stuffed with the ovary and digestive glands of a crab

Hotel in Canary Islands: Great entertainment – live paella

Hotel, Lake Garda, Italy, offering early evening aperitifs: Martini & nipples On website of a French hotel, restaurant specialities include: The Salmon Smoked House; The Ham of Stage coach House; The Sausage of Ass House; Spotted frog thighs; The flap with shallot; The nice one of pig green pepper

Sign next to Shanghai swimming pool: Bottom of pond very hard and not far from top of water

Budapest: Forbidden to hang out of hotel window. Person which do so will be charge for clean up mess on footpath

Guide to Buenos Aires: Several of the local beaches are very copular in the summer

Sign on Spanish beach: Beach of irregular bottoms

Sign in Japanese park: Keep Japan green don’t burn the fire chief

Sign at the Ethnic Minorities Park, Beijing: Racist Park

Tourism brochure trying to say “Jerusalem – there’s no city like it!”: Jerusalem – there’s no such city!

Japanese sign: Don’t protrude the tartness and keenness out the staircase

Sign for disabled toilet, China: Deformed man toilet

On an oil tanker in India: Edible. Oil tanker!

Road sign, New Mexico: Gusty winds may exist

Sign in Prague hotel: Water is officially drinkable (but not for sucklings), but we don’t recommend to drink it

Hotel brochure, Copenhagen: In fire, the bells rings three times. There is a fine escape on each floor. For other amusements see page 3


I think I am going to buy the second part, "Still Lost in Translation" for the boring three day drive from Melbourne in February..

For all your English to Arabic and vice versa translations that will help you expand your business into the Middle East visit Arabic Language Experts at

Monday, July 13, 2009

Apologia Machina

Agence France-Presse is telling us that the French business newspaper La Tribune is launching a multi-lingual version of its website using automatic translation, dispensing with journalists but producing often comic results.

"Ryanair loan to make travel of the passengers upright," "The Chinese car in ambush," "Internet Explorer: mistrust!" and "Assets of the continental right in management of the crisis" were some of the mysterious headlines the same day on the site, which is still in an experimental phase.

But the paper's editors are confident that the project will, once the software is refined and a human hired to tweak the texts, open La Tribune to a potentially huge international audience. The editors acknowledged that the results on La Tribune were still far from ideal, but said that the software was being continually updated and that within a few months it would achieve "almost perfect" news articles.

Now comes the stick-it-in-apologia-for-us-human-translators:

But it is generally accepted that translation software cannot, as Google Translate admits on its site, "approach the fluency of a native speaker or possess the skill of a professional translator".

Why do I call it an apologia? BECAUSE: "Most of the English articles on La Tribune's site were, with a little effort, understandable despite their many linguistic oddities."

We are willing to pay less and put "a little effort" instead to read garbled English which no longer gets defined as "incorrect" but as "odd".

Except that I wouldn't get paid for being "odd", but some idiot would pay hundreds of thousands of dollars to purchase a software that is. Amazing!

For all your English to Arabic and vice versa translations that will help you expand your business into the Middle East visit Arabic Language Experts at