Off topic: BBC Subtitle Howlers
Thread poster: Jack Doughty

Jack Doughty  Identity Verified
United Kingdom
Local time: 09:26
Member (2000)
Russian to English
+ ...
Oct 10, 2011

(From news stories in 'Daily Telegraph' and 'Guardian'; there is also a dedicated website somewhere but I haven't found it)

Pigs love to nibble anything, including our willies (wellies)
Ed Miller Band (Ed Milliband)
A moment of violence for the Queen Mother (A moment of silence)
The Island rugby team (Ireland)
Visit from Arch Bitch of Canterbury expected (Archbishop)
The Government is making holes for surgeons (hopeful decisions)
(Politician in Andrew Marr interview) I do not believe in soliciting myself (shortlisting)
The Conservative Party is in favour of attacks on houses (a tax on houses)
Prince of Chemical and Bionicle Weapons (principally chemical and biological weapons)
Silvio Beryl Beryl (Berlusconi)
Kelly Holmes, Olympic runner, says she will be hanging up Perspex (her spikes)
Millions of puppies sold for Remembrance Sunday (poppies)
US President Obama shot by US Navy Seals (Osama bin Laden)


David Wright  Identity Verified
Local time: 10:26
German to English
+ ...
Dragon? Oct 10, 2011

These are the subtitles for the deaf that are generated instantly, probably by dragon or the like. I get theme every day and to be honest don't even notice thenm any more.

I do remember a genuine case though few years back, when teh subtitles in German for a MOnty Python scene translated the "Sally Army" (= Salvation Army) as "Australian Army", which made no sense whatsoever in the context.


Alison Sabedoria  Identity Verified
Member (2009)
French to English
+ ...
Gems - however generated! Oct 10, 2011

When visiting my family in the UK, we put the subtitles on to help my French boyfriend follow more easily.

The "instant" subtitles on live programmes don't help much, as they lag so far behind what is said, but the howlers have us in hysterics - often the best comedy of the evening.

Thanks, Jack - the Arch Bitch of Canterbury quite made my morning!



Armorel Young  Identity Verified
Local time: 09:26
German to English
Proves the need for real people :-) Oct 10, 2011

I love the one about "attacks on houses" - partly because it is so difficult to distinguish aurally from "a tax on houses": which just goes to show that it is going to be very difficult for computers to do people out of a job when a proper transcription is required.

They usually seem to have these subtitles on in the gym I go to and they are always good entertainment - if only for trying to work out what was actually intended.


Christine Andersen  Identity Verified
Local time: 10:26
Member (2003)
Danish to English
+ ...
Spell checkers are good too... Oct 11, 2011

I have never forgotten this one from the Danish spell checker of one of the now defunct versions of Word, at the stage in the pharmaceutical mergers when one company was called SmithKline Beecham.

This became Smittekilde Beecham in the business newspaper ...

Smittekilde is Danish for source of infection - ouch!


George Hopkins
Local time: 10:26
Swedish to English
Christmas crackers Oct 12, 2011

Translated in Swedish subtitle as if referring to "Christmas fireworks".

Strange how such blunders never fade away; on the other hand I forget my own very quickly.


To report site rules violations or get help, contact a site moderator:

You can also contact site staff by submitting a support request »

BBC Subtitle Howlers

Advanced search

WordFinder Unlimited
For clarity and excellence

WordFinder is the leading dictionary service that gives you the words you want anywhere, anytime. Access 260+ dictionaries from the world's leading dictionary publishers in virtually any device. Find the right word anywhere, anytime - online or offline.

More info »
Protemos translation business management system
Create your account in minutes, and start working! 3-month trial for agencies, and free for freelancers!

The system lets you keep client/vendor database, with contacts and rates, manage projects and assign jobs to vendors, issue invoices, track payments, store and manage project files, generate business reports on turnover profit per client/manager etc.

More info »

  • All of
  • Term search
  • Jobs
  • Forums
  • Multiple search