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Off topic: Funny ENG>SPA translation
Thread poster: Marcelo Silveyra

Marcelo Silveyra
United States
Local time: 07:31
Member (2007)
German to English
+ ...
Dec 15, 2007

So I'm sitting at the local pharmacy, waiting for my allergy medication to be ready, and I accidentally start reading a warning on the side of one of those pulse-measuring thingies (i.e. heart and pressure monitors, just in case someone was wondering) they have at pharmacies, right? It went something like this:

"WARNING! Shock hazard. Do not remove panel...."

which was translated into French (it seemed fine, but I have a very limited command of French, so only God knows), and then into Spanish:

"¡PRECAUCIÓN! Peligro de calambre. No abra el panel..."

Really? So I'm not in danger of electrocuting myself with a "descarga eléctrica?" I'm just going to get exposed to minor discomfort caused by a " 2. m. Estremecimiento producido por una descarga eléctrica de baja intensidad?" Sweet! Let's open the thing...

(The translation went on to servicing-related issues. While understandable, the Spanish was quite atrocious.)

Just had to share

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Local time: 11:31
Spanish to English
+ ...
Errrr... Dec 15, 2007

... how else is the damn machine going to check if your pulse is ticking if it doesn't give you a slight jolt?

If I were you I'd be more worried by
Marcelo Silveyra wrote:
... I accidentally start reading a warning ...

There's a sure sign of imminent heart failure - or worse!


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Narcis Lozano Drago  Identity Verified
Local time: 16:31
Member (2007)
English to Spanish
+ ...
Another one Dec 15, 2007

When your source text l is the clumsy work of a non-native translator (I hope)...

"Please use your multimedia player properly in case of explosion, electric shock, fire, etc."

Um, yep.


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Local time: 10:31
I thought it was just the Midwest! Dec 16, 2007

Nice thread, Marcelo!
I am entertained on at least a weekly basis by really bad sign translations in my local area as well. I had kind of chalked it up to living here in Indiana, where bilingualism is still new and not as common as I assume it is in California. Maybe bad Spanish translations are a problem across the US...

Anyway, here's my favorite translation chuckle of the week:

At my doctor's office by the desk there was a sign that said, "Check-out," and then below it, "Averique." I'm guessing it was supposed to be "averigue," which is still hilariously bad!

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Fabio Descalzi  Identity Verified
Local time: 11:31
Member (2004)
German to Spanish
+ ...
Machines don't feel - nor do some translators Dec 16, 2007

The eternal discussion regarding machine-translation: will they ever be able to feel what they read...?
AND: sometimes there are translators who actually work as translating machines. They just use the TM - period. I guess the example brought forward by Marcelo is yet another case of such "quasi-machine" translation.

That is not the only example.
Some days ago, my brother-in-law (who deals with imported goods) showed me a 10-word text written in German, meant to explain some changes in retailer conditions of simple plastic goods. I swear: the wording used would NEVER be understood by a machine. All were pure commercial jargon terms, none of them to be found in a normal dictionary; the one and only way to understand that short but eloquent text, was... "have lived and worked in the country where the language is spoken". Otherwise, if instead of asking me, my brother-in-law had resorted to the help of a good dictionary, he would have been re-directed to concepts (wrongly) related with, say, electrical devices and medicine

[Edited at 2007-12-16 19:16]

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Elisabete Cunha  Identity Verified
Local time: 15:31
English to Portuguese
+ ...
If you find those translations weird, check this out :-) Dec 17, 2007

I could never get tired of reading this...

On "Kickboxer4":

Two people are fighting:

-"Give me your best shot!"

-"Dá-me a tua melhor injecção!"


This site has also very interesting approaches to translation Unfortunately, it's only in Portuguese.

Anyway, here are some examples I've carefully selected. It was difficult. They were all so good

English - You will feel the roar of the rapids and the mist of your face...
Portuguese - Tu irás sentir o barulho de uma rápida pancada seca na tua cara.

English - Niagara Falls stimulates all of your senses.
Portuguese - As Niagaras, ou caem ou estimulam tudo sem sentido.

English - ...working hard alongside Amnesty International...
Portuguese - ...trabalhando o lado comprido e duro da Amnistia Internacional...

English - The ex-member of Genesis is today a mature musician and a very commited man.
Portuguese - O membro do Ginásio é hoje venerado por um músico que é muito comprometido com um homem.


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Marcelo Silveyra
United States
Local time: 07:31
Member (2007)
German to English
+ ...
California weather's great. California Spanish? Not so much... Dec 17, 2007

Clare Corado wrote:
Indiana, where bilingualism is still new and not as common as I assume it is in California. Maybe bad Spanish translations are a problem across the US...

California is terrible when it comes to translation! Just a couple of weeks ago, I cringed a good number of times while visiting the spider exhibition at the LA Zoo, and it wasn't because of the spiders...they could have spent literally 50 bucks to make sure the Spanish was OK, but noooooo. I guess one of the worst problems is that everyone just assumes they can speak perfect Spanish (or perfect English, depending on how you look at it). But then again, after looking at the ludicrously bad Spanish used in official (i.e. court system, military, INS, etc.) US government websites, how can you blame them?


"Please use your multimedia player properly in case of explosion, electric shock, fire, etc."

Hahaha, sounds like a line from GTA.


The Portuguese ones were also hilarious..."gimme your best injection!"

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teju  Identity Verified
Local time: 08:31
English to Spanish
+ ...
Texas is no better Dec 17, 2007

You'd think that in a town like where I live, with 70% hispanic population, they would be able to translate things properly. Wrong. The latest one was a machine translation in a package of 6 glasses at a major discount store. The outer box said:

Drinking glasses

The translation: Vidrios que beben

I swear I'm not making this up. I couldn't stop laughing. Keep these pearls of wisdom coming, they are a lot of fun.

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