Off topic: Funny Mistranslations
Thread poster: Pnina

Local time: 01:23
Italian to Hebrew
+ ...
Jun 16, 2010

Mistranslations can be detrimental to the translation, but they can result in a humorous statement.
Sometimes a mistranslation is the result of transposing a few letters within a word. For example, once I saw in a Chinese Restaurant a menu that offered "chicken soap with mushrooms." In a Thai Restaurant I read on the menu that a chicken cooked with watercress was served in "a light grave sauce".
Sometimes a mistranslation is the result of the difficulties encountered in translating material from one language to another.
I would like to share with you several examples (funny signs that I have seen in public places).
In a health center I was confronted with a bilingual sign (Hebrew and English). The English translation of the sign read: "Dear patient, please prepare your magnetic card before entering the doctor"...
At the entrance to a swimming pool I saw a bilingual sign (Hebrew and English), the English version of which read: "Children with floating tools are not allowed in the deep water"...
In a self service laundry the English translation of a big sign announced: "Automatic washing machines. Please remove all your clothes when the light goes out"...


Louisa Berry
United Kingdom
Local time: 23:23
Member (2009)
German to English
+ ...
Funny instruction manual Jun 16, 2010

Years ago my Dad received a gadget for Christmas for his car which went over the back of his seat and massaged his back whilst he drove. The English instructions said 'do not use in the moist place' and went on to say something along the lines of 'if submerged in water discontinue use'.

We spent most of Christmas afternoon taking turns to read funny lines out of the instructions!


Andrzej Mierzejewski  Identity Verified
Local time: 00:23
Polish to English
+ ...
Just to show the potential of funny translations Jun 16, 2010

A "najdziwniejsze/najśmieszniejsze tłumaczenia" = 'the most ridiculous/funniest translations' thread exists in Polish forum. A majority of examples are EN-PL or PL-EN.
Founded November 21, 2004. Contains 916 entries, was viewed 240,350 times.
Reading such thread is a good way to avoid errors, false friends, etc.


[Zmieniono 2010-06-16 13:14 GMT]


Ricardo Horta  Identity Verified
Local time: 23:23
English to Portuguese
+ ...
About 25 years ago... Jun 16, 2010 father was a Major in the Portuguese Army and his unit received a brand new electronic machine (I don't remember what it was for). The manual was in English, but they had a guy there who claimed to be a Translator in his civilian life (Military service was compulsive in Portugal then). So, they asked if he could do the Translation of the manual and he said he'd do it.

When my father received the translation, he started reading and it said something like "as batatas fritas do computador" ---> "the computer chips". The guy had translated "chips" not as "computer chips", but as "potato chips"... My father still laughs at this oneicon_biggrin.gif

EDITed for typo.

[Edited at 2010-06-16 13:36 GMT]


Local time: 23:23
English to Italian
+ ...
A menu in a Bolivian restaurant Jun 16, 2010

Chips, which in Spanish is "papas fritas" is translated as "fried popes".


Helen Matthews  Identity Verified
United Kingdom
Local time: 23:23
Member (2008)
Italian to English
+ ...
Rabied pens Jun 16, 2010

.... seen on a menu in an Italian restaurant.... anyone fancy it?icon_smile.gif

(penne all'arrabbiata originally!!)


Linda Kelly  Identity Verified
Local time: 23:23
Spanish to English
+ ...
Jam pizzas Jun 16, 2010

Although I have ordered these from several Spanish restaurants, I've always, disappointingly, been given ham.


Ricardo Horta  Identity Verified
Local time: 23:23
English to Portuguese
+ ...
LOL Jun 16, 2010

Let me tell you. For a Portuguese (or Brazilian) the original name in Italian (penne al'arrabbiata) sounds funny... but I can't tell you why here (reason is rated R).

In a restaurant here in Lisboa, the "bife da vazia" was translated to "steak of the empty" (rib-eye steak).

[Edited at 2010-06-16 18:10 GMT]


Local time: 00:23
Member (2010)
German to Spanish
+ ...
Seen on a menu in Gerona Jun 16, 2010

Rices and You Graze

That's it.

Arroces y pastas


LegalTransform  Identity Verified
United States
Local time: 18:23
Member (2002)
Spanish to English
+ ...
Funny Translations Jun 16, 2010

I once had a jacket with a label that was translated into French:
Made in Turkey / Fabrique' en Dinde (dinde is the bird turkey)

There is a bilingual (English/Spanish) sign in Spanish at the entrance to a major home improvement store here that reads "Store Directory / Almanece el Directorio" (they used the imperative form of the verb for "to store" and the Spanish sign is instructing visitors to take the directory and store it somewhere). Another sign says "TAKES 2 to LIFT" (heavy object). The Spanish says "TOMAS 2 A LEVANTAR"

I once saw a sign at a local fast food restaurant advertising their "savory sausage" translated into Spanish as "Exquisita Salchica" and I could not help but wonder what a Portuguese speaker would think of this "Weird Sausage". (Exquisito means exquisite/delicious in Spanish, but Esquisito means weird/strange in Portuguese).

I was once asked to translate a document from German to English regarding a high-speed train that was described as being in continual motion, rendered in the original German as "Konstant Fahrt".

[Edited at 2010-06-16 20:31 GMT]


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