Lost in Translation: 8 Funny Translation Mistakes


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Language translation can cause some serious mistakes when people aren't fluent in both languages or don't know the exact context. Check out these funny mistranslations and find out how not to make your own.

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Lost in Translation: 8 Funny Translation Mistakes

  1. 1. 8 Funny Translation Mistakes
  2. 2. • President Carter traveled to Poland in 1977. The State Department found a Russian interpreter who knew Polish, but was not a professional in that language. Carter’s interpreter translated him saying things in Polish like "when I abandoned the United States" (for "when I left the United States") and "your lusts for the future" (for "your desires for the future"). The media in both countries enjoyed the mistakes.
  3. 3. • St. Jerome’s Latin translation of the Old Testament from Hebrew contained a famous mistake. When Moses comes down from Mount Sinai his head has “radiance” or, in Hebrew, “karan.” St. Jerome had read “karan” as “keren,” or “horned.” For centuries, paintings and sculptures of Moses showed horns.
  4. 4. • This sticker on a ceramic dish says it should be washed by hand. The French reads “It is recommended to wash hands”.
  5. 5. • A character in the Japanese video game Street Fighter II says, “If you cannot overcome the Rising Dragon Punch, you cannot win!" The translator for the Japanese wording interpreted the characters for "rising dragon" as "Sheng Long." The characters can mean both in Japanese depending on the context, and the translator thought a new person was being introduced to the game. Gamers went crazy trying to figure out who this Sheng Long was and how they could defeat him.
  6. 6. • Kentucky Fried Chicken opened their first store in China using their common slogan, “finger lickin’ good.” Unfortunately, it was mistranslated to “eat your fingers off.”
  7. 7. • Coors, the Brewing Company, mistranslated its slogan “Turn it loose” in Spanish to “Suffer from diarrhea.”
  8. 8. • When Pepsi launched a new campaign with the slogan “Pepsi brings you back to life,” it translated into Mandarin meaning “Pepsi brings your ancestors back from the grave.”
  9. 9. • During the Cold War, Soviet premier Nikita Khrushchev gave a speech in Russian, part of which was interpreted as "we will bury you." The U.S. worried that Russia was planning a nuclear attack. But the sense of the Russian phrase was more like "we will live to see you buried" or "we will outlast you.“ There was no imminent nuclear attack on the horizon.
  10. 10. • The best way to avoid funny, and sometimes serious, translation mistakes is to hire a well-trained translator in the correct language. • If you are planning to do anything with legal departments in other countries, be sure to find someone who is familiar with the terms and practices of those countries.
  11. 11. • MultiLing is an international patent translation company that can translate your documents into any language you want. • For more information on MultiLing and what they can do for you, check out these pages. • http://www.multiling.com/IP-outsourcing.aspx https://www.facebook.com/multilingcorporation https://twitter.com/MultiLing