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Where Did The Translation Go Wrong? Part I September 17, 2008

Posted by Fantastic Four in Cultural Diversity, Funnies, Translation.
19 comments

Over the years I have worked not only as a translator but also a proofreader. I have come across some outrageous translations. There were more than a few times when I had to re-translate the whole thing myself since trying to correct the errors would have taken much longer than starting from scratch.

In this first instalment of my “Where did the translation go wrong?” series, I present to you signs and notices from different countries. I am sure some will make you cringe, some laugh perhaps with a whoa here and there. Many of these have been circulating all over the net bouncing back and forth amongst us, the translators. The ones down below are my personal favourites and they are quite popular on the net.

Uhm… ok…

Bangkok ~ In a dry cleaner’s:
Drop your trousers here for best results.

Bangkok ~ In a temple:
It is forbidden to enter a woman even a foreigner if dressed as a man.

France ~ In a Paris hotel elevator:
Please leave your values at the front desk.

Greece ~ In Athens:
Visitors are expected to complain at the office between the hours of 9 and 11 a.m. daily.

Hong Kong ~ Outside a tailor shop:
Ladies may have a fit upstairs.

Hong Kong ~ In an advertisement by a dentist:
Teeth extracted by the latest Methodists.

Hungary ~ In a Budapest zoo:
Please do not feed the animals. If you have any suitable food, give it to the guard on duty.

Italy ~ In a laundry in Rome:
Ladies, leave your clothes here and spend the afternoon having a good time.

Japan ~ in a Tokyo hotel:
Is forbidden to steal hotel towels please. If you are not a person to do such thing is please not to read notis.

Japan ~ In a Tokyo bar:
Special cocktails for the ladies with nuts.

Japan ~ In an information booklet about using a hotel air conditioner:
Cooles and Heates: If you want just condition of warm in your room, please control yourself.

Japan ~ In a brochure of a car rental firm in Tokyo:
When passenger of foot heave in sight, tootle the horn. Trumpet him melodiously at first, but if he still obstacles your passage then tootle him with vigor.

Mexico ~ In an Acapulco hotel:
The manager has personally passed all the water served here.

Norway ~ In a Norwegian cocktail lounge:
Ladies are requested not to have children in the bar.

Poland ~ On the menu of a hotel:
Salad a firm’s own make; limpid red beet soup with cheesy dumplings in the form of a finger; roasted duck let loose; beef rashers beaten up in the country people’s fashion.

Rhodes ~ In a tailor shop:
Order your summers suit. Because is big rush we will execute customers in strict rotation.

Romania ~ in a Bucharest hotel lobby:
The lift is being fixed for the next day. During that time we regret that you will be unbearable.

Russia ~ From the Soviet Weekly:
There will be a Moscow Exhibition of Arts by 15,000 Soviet Republic painters and sculptors. These were executed over the past two years.

Russia ~ In the lobby of a Moscow hotel across from a Russian Orthodox monastery:
You are welcome to visit the cemetery where famous Russian and Soviet composers, artists, and writers are buried daily except Thursday.

Serbia ~ In a Belgrade hotel 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 is then going alphabetically by national order.

Switzerland ~ On a menu:
Our wines leave you nothing to hope for.

Switzerland ~ In a Zurich hotel:
Because of the impropriety of entertaining guests of the opposite sex in the bedroom, it is suggested that the lobby be used for this purpose.

Yugoslavia ~ In a hotel:
The flattening of underwear with pleasure is the job of the chambermaid.

AND, one that shows us how some products should never make it to another country promoted with the same name:

Australia To Spain ~ The Mitsubishi four wheel drive marketed in Australia as the “Pajero” was the cause of great embarrassment in Spain where “Pajero” means “masturbator”.

Naturally, when the cars didn’t sell they changed the name to Montero…

I say Pajero you say Montero…

On a box;

Thanks for the warning

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Next instalment: The most common mistakes – I have observed – Turkish people make when they speak or write in English language. It mostly points to the differences in the sentence structures and the parts of speech between the two languages. Stay tuned!

"Happy Birthday" in many languages July 15, 2008

Posted by Fantastic Four in Language, Mini Glossary, Phrases, Translation.
Tags:
12 comments

Since this is a linguistic blog, I had to find an equally linguistic way to say “Happy Birthday” to one of my favourite bloggers in the whole wide blogosphere, who is celebrating his birthday on this day, July 15th.

I found this table on the website of Warsaw School of Economics. It lists a whole bunch of languages and how to say Happy Birthday – or something to that effect – in quite a few languages.

Afrikaans
Gelukkige Verjaarsdag
Albanian
Gëzuar Ditëlindjen
Amharic
Melkam lidet

Arabic
Aid milad saeed
Armenian
Ierchanik Daretarts
Aymara
Urupa muñasiñani
Azeri
Ad Gunun Mubarek
Bahasa
Selamat Ulang Tahun
Bambara
Ala ka san o san ké i kéné gnina
Basque
Zorionak
Belarussian
Bengali
Janmadivas mater Shubhkamona
Bhojpuri
Tohara janam din par bahut bahut mubarak ho
Brasilian Portugese
Feliz Aniversário
Bulgarian

Chestit Rojden Den
Catalan
Per molts anys
Chobacano
Compleanyo
Chinese

Shēng rì kuaì lè
Croatian
Srećan rođendan
Czech
Všechno nejlepši k narozeninám
Danish
Tillykke med fødselsdagen
Dhuo
Cham anyuola maber
Dhivehi
ufaaveri ufandhuvaheh
Dolfin
Mayin bharatig
Dutch
Hartelijk Gefeliciteerd met je verjaardag
Prettige verjaardag
Gefeliciteerd met je verjaardag
English
Happy Birthday!
Estonian

Palju õnne!
Palju õnne sünnipäevaks

Filipino
Maligayang Kaarawan
Finnish
Hyvää Syntymäpäivää
French
Bon anniversaire
Joyeux anniversaire
Galician
Feliz Cumpreanos
Georgian
gilotsav dabadebis dges
German
Alles Gute zum Geburtstag
Herzlichen Glückwunsch zum Geburtstag
Greek

Greenlandic
Inuuissiorninni pilluarit
Gujurathi
Vadhdeevasanimate shubetsha
Hawaiian
Hauoli la hanau
Hebrew
Yom Hooledet Samea’ach
Hindi
Varshaghat ki shubhakamana
Janam Din Ki Subhkamana
Hungarian
Boldog születésnapot
Icelandic
Til hamingju með afmælið
Indonesian Selamat ulang tahun (Thank you Yuliana)
Irish
Lá breithe shona dhuit
(as corrected by Conan)
Italian
Buon compleanno
Japanese
Otanjoubi omedetou
Kalenjin
Baibaitu eng’ betut ne kikisigin
Kannada
janma dinada subhashayagalu
Kashmiri
Voharvod Mubarak Chuy
Kazak
Tugan kunumen kuttiktaem
Kikuyu
muthenya waguciaruo muega
Kiswahili
Heri ya siku yako ya kuzaliwa
Korean
Saeng il Chuk ha hae
Latin
Boenos Anos
Latvian

Lithuanian
Su Gimimo diena
in Luxemburg

Macedonian
Среќен роденден
Malay
Selamat Hari Jadi
Maltese
Il festa it tajba

L-isbaħ xewqat f-għeluq sninek
Malyalam
Marathi
Vadhdeevasachya shubetchha
Mongolian
Tursun udriin mend hurgey
Nepalese
janma din ko subhakamana
Norwegian
Gratulerer med dagen
Oriya
Shubah Janma Dina
Papiamento
Masha Pabien
Persian
Tavalodat Mobarak
Polish
Wszystkiego najlepszego z okazji urodzin
Portugese
Parabéns
Punjabi
Sode janamdin diya lakh lakh badhaiya
Quechua
cusicuy causayquimanta diayquipaj
Romanian
La multi ani
Russian
Samoan
manuia le aso fanau
Sanskrit

Schweizerdeutsch
schönä Geburtstag
Serbian
Sretan rođendan
Sesotho
Mahlohonolo a letsatsi la matswalo
Setswana
letsatsi la matsalo le le boitumelo
Shona
makorokoto makore akoawande
Sinhalese
Suba oopan dinayak vayva
Sindhi
Thuhinji zindagi mein hamesha khush-haali rahe
Slovak
Vsetko najlepsie k Tvojim narodeninam
Slovenian
Vse najboljse za rojstni dan
Vse najboljše
Spanish
Feliz cumpleaños
in Swaziland
Lusuku Lwekutalwa Loluhle
Swedish
Grattis på fodelsedagen
in Taiwan

Tamil
Pirandhanaal Vaazhththukal
Tagalog
Maligayang Bati sa iyong Kaarawan
Telugu
Janma dhina shubhakankshalu
Thai
Suk Son one Gurt
in Togo
dzigbe za be dzogbe nyuie na wo
Turkish
1) Doğum günün kutlu olsun /
2) Nice yaşlara
in Uganda
kulikka okutukka kumazalibwa
Ukrainian
Urdu
Saalgirah Mubarak
Valencian
Feliç aniversari
Vicaya
Malipayan Katawhan
Vietnamese
Chuc Sinh Nhat Vui Ve
Warlpiri
Yimi nguvrju
Welsh
Penblwydd Hapus
Xhosa
Ube nemini yokuzalwa emnandi
Yiddish
freylekhn geburtstog
Yoruba
E ku ajoyo ojo ibi
Zulu
Usuku lokuzalwa olumnandi

Impossible Deadlines and Adrenalin Rush June 27, 2008

Posted by Fantastic Four in Translation, Translation Companies.
2 comments

Please find the source document attached. We would like to receive the translation latest by yesterday afternoon.

In her entire career as a translator, how many times will a translator experience such assignments of extreme urgency, I wonder. How many of these possibly impossible assignments have I been sent, I have never counted. I should have though, for schits and giggles, and mainly to satisfy my appetite for statistics.

I never blame the translation agency for sending me the translation with such near impossible and insane deadlines. I think it’s the lazy clients who leave everything to the last minute. Of course I am not completely leaving out the legitimate emergencies; urgent correspondence and communiques, breaking news needed to be broadcasted in another language.

And yet, most of the time, the urgency stems from a document sitting on some one’s desk until the last moment when it needs to be reproduced in a different language to submit somewhere important to do something important with it. The level of importance is a relevant issue naturally, but I can assure you every one’s business is most important to themselves.

My question then becomes “Why not treat this quintessential part of any business, which is conducted in an international level or involves at least some form of international contact, with the respect that it deserves?” Why send off a 10,000 word document to the translation agency at 5:49pm and demand that it is translated, proofread, formatted and submitted by 8am the next morning? Was it not known two days ago or even this morning that the translated version of this document had to be submitted to the High Elven Ministry of Health latest by 9am tomorrow morning?

I have to say, there is one good thing, actually a great thing about impossible deadlines: The stress, the intensity and the associated adrenalin rush. The sense of accomplishment and joy which follow upon the successful completion of the translation within the given deadline – after even having traveled back in time. Enjoying the triumph; laughing in the face of the impossible HA! HA! And ripping it apart, wrenching the prefix im-, which is a variant spelling of in- from the rest of that despicable, hopeless word and giving it hope and encouragement. Transforming it into the beautiful, positive word that it all along secretly desired to be.

So what, if the stress has billed you for half an hour out of your life expectancy. A breakfast full of anti-oxidants and everything shall be fine again.

So what, if you have another falling out with your self who claims you have no life. The excitement and thrill from tasting the unknown, the adrenalin rush, and the triumph. It’s all worth it. All worth it.