Schlechte Übersetzungen - Bad Translations

by Jack Korten (Australia)

During a discussion I had with Lyall about bad translations, Lyall mentioned a bad translation from German into English, used in a Mercedes Benz Parts Manual. In this manual, “posterior muffler” was used instead of “rear muffler” (silencer in the UK)
This reminded me of a note displayed in a Shop Window in Dubai:

“IF FRONT IS CLOSED PLEASE ENTER THROUGH MY BACKSIDE”

One can assume that in both cases use was made of a so called “machine translator”.

Machine translations are only useful if one has a fair knowledge of that particular foreign language. Because the translator translates word for word, the text is often not only grammatically incorrect, but at times completely incoherent.

With a machine translator like for instance: http://imtranslator.net/compare/ one can select “back translation”. This system translates into a foreign language and translates once more back to English. If the “back translation” matches your original text, it may be safe to use. However, there is still no guarantee.

Using http://imtranslator.net/compare/ I typed the following text:

“I was held up by two robbers”, and it was translated:

Into German, and followed by back translation: “I was held by two robbers.”
Into French, followed by back translation: “I am owned by two robbers.”
Into Spanish, followed by back translation: “I was supported by two thieves”

Here are some more “bad translations from around the world”

Advertisement for donkey rides, Thailand :
WOULD YOU LIKE TO RIDE ON YOUR OWN ASS?
Dry cleaners, Bangkok :
DROP YOUR TROUSERS HERE FOR THE BEST RESULTS.
Cocktail lounge, Norway:
LADIES ARE REQUESTED NOT TO HAVE CHILDREN IN THE BAR.
Airline ticket office, Copenhagen :
WE TAKE YOUR BAGS AND SEND THEM IN ALL DIRECTIONS.
On the main road to Mombasa , leaving Nairobi :
TAKE NOTICE: WHEN THIS SIGN IS UNDER WATER, THIS ROAD IS IMPASSABLE.
In a Cemetery:
PERSONS ARE PROHIBITED FROM PICKING FLOWERS, FROM ANY BUT THEIR OWN GRAVES ...
Tokyo hotel's rules and regulations:
GUESTS ARE REQUESTED NOT TO SMOKE, OR DO OTHER DISGUSTING BEHAVIOURS IN BED.
In a Tokyo Bar:
SPECIAL COCKTAILS FOR THE LADIES WITH NUTS.
On the menu of a Swiss Restaurant:
OUR WINES LEAVE YOU NOTHING TO HOPE FOR.
Hotel, Zurich :
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.
Doctor's office, Rome :
SPECIALIST IN WOMEN AND OTHER DISEASES.

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Beware of spell checkers!

THE TEXT

Hi Fred, this is Alan next door. I have a confession to make. I've been riddled with guilt these past few months and have been trying to pluck up the courage to tell you to your face, but I am at least now telling you in text as I cannot live with myself a moment longer without you knowing.


The truth is I have been sharing your wife, day and night when you're not around. In fact, probably more than you.
I haven't been getting it at home recently, but that's no excuse, I know. The temptation was just too much.
I can no longer live with the guilt and I hope you will accept my sincerest apologies and forgive me. It won't happen again.
Please suggest a fee for usage, and I'll pay you.

Regards, Alan.


THE RESPONSE

Fred, feeling insulted and betrayed, grabbed his gun, and shot his neighbour dead.
He returned home where he poured himself a stiff drink and sat down on the sofa.
He took out his phone where he saw he had a second message from his neighbour.

THE SECOND MESSAGE

Hi Fred,
This is Alan next door again. Sorry about the typo on my last text.
I expect you figured it out anyway, and that you noticed that darned
Auto-Correct changed "wi-fi" to "wife". Technology hey?

Regards, Alan

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