Poll: Do you ever think of funny, literal & obviously wrong translations of words while translating?
Thread poster: ProZ.com Staff

ProZ.com Staff
Local time: 00:14
Nov 20, 2007

This forum topic is for the discussion of the poll question "Do you ever think of funny, literal & obviously wrong translations of words while translating?".

View the poll here

A forum topic will appear each time a new poll is run. For more information, see: http://proz.com/topic/33629


Tomás Cano Binder, BA, CT  Identity Verified
Local time: 09:14
Member (2005)
English to Spanish
+ ...
Yes, all the time!... but... Nov 20, 2007

...I am VERY serious about my work! Being serious with work is not incompatible with seeing the funny side of things while translating.icon_smile.gif


Christine Andersen  Identity Verified
Local time: 09:14
Member (2003)
Danish to English
+ ...
Of course - We're human, not machines! Nov 20, 2007

Tomás Cano Binder wrote:

...I am VERY serious about my work! Being serious with work is not incompatible with seeing the funny side of things while translating.icon_smile.gif

It's a necessary part of doing your work properly!
Maybe not deliberately getting things wrong, but when you do, asking yourself why is important.

This is how you learn from mistakes and learn not to make the same ones again.

And the funny ones are easiest to remember (also for the client, so make quite sure you remember to remove them) icon_biggrin.gif


Henry Hinds  Identity Verified
United States
Local time: 01:14
English to Spanish
+ ...
Sometimes Nov 20, 2007

But I am always very serious about my work, so I get a laugh and move on.


Fiamma Lolli
Local time: 09:14
Spanish to Italian
+ ...
Patate lesse... Nov 20, 2007

...means boiled potatoes, but even "potatoes that he/she read".
Or, if "Tender is the night", yacht is the day?
I could go on for hours but tomorrow is deadly-deadline-day!


Izabela Szczypka  Identity Verified
Local time: 09:14
English to Polish
+ ...
Especially with poorly-written texts Nov 20, 2007

How about giving them EXACTLY what they've written, i.e. applying the famous GI-GO rule?
I'm just doing one of those **** and feel vindictive icon_evil.gif


Parrot  Identity Verified
Local time: 09:14
Spanish to English
+ ...
Bad originals usually turn them up naturally Nov 20, 2007

I'm now looking at something that says "it is important to consider the contraindications that... shall not be indicated".


Jack Doughty  Identity Verified
United Kingdom
Local time: 08:14
Member (2000)
Russian to English
+ ...
Soviet tea? Nov 20, 2007

I had a thought like this only the other day. I had to translate "Не совок чай". I know that "совок" is a derogatory term for the Soviet Union, and "чай" here is just added for emphasis. So it means something like "These aren't the bad old Soviet days, after all".
But чай nearly always means tea, and I thought of Soviet exhibitions I went to in London in two successive years. The first year, I bought a packet of Georgian tea, and liked it very much. So the next year, I bought another packet. It was awful, it tasted of oil. I had heard on Moscow Radio about tea-picking machines being introduced in Georgia, and this was the result. So was that second packet "совок чай" - lousy Soviet tea? I reckon it was!


LegalTransform  Identity Verified
United States
Local time: 03:14
Member (2002)
Spanish to English
+ ...
Funny translations Nov 21, 2007

I notice funny things all the time:

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".

I saw a bilingual (English/Spanish) sign in Spanish at the entrance to a major home improvement store that read "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).

Today, I 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).

[Edited at 2007-11-21 16:45]


vixen  Identity Verified
Local time: 10:14
Member (2002)
English to Dutch
+ ...
So many serious professionals... Nov 21, 2007

I'm amazed at the number of votes for the 'No, I'm serious...' option.

As language professionals, we are constantly 'playing' with words to get it right. So it seems only natural that we sometimes come up with translations that are very funny, even though we know we will never put them down in the actual translation. Why not? Because we are professional translators who love languages, but are very serious about our work!

[Edited at 2007-11-21 12:04]


Local time: 08:14
English to Russian
I love it! Nov 21, 2007

I love doing that with particularly difficult sentences!

When nothing sensible springs to mind I write down several very literal versions that sound absolutely rediculous and totally wrong. This helps me identify the 'core' of the problem (e.g. unclear word meanings, bad sentence structure, wrong choice of word etc.) and find the best solution. This method works wonders and has never let me down. Besides, such brainstorms are great fun as they are a perfect and absolutely legitemate excuse to mess around with words for a bit!


Marie-Hélène Hayles  Identity Verified
Local time: 09:14
Italian to English
+ ...
Only just seen this poll... Nov 23, 2007

But I remember one I had a while ago: "... giudice ordinario che ne resta, in tal caso, investito."

I resisted the temptation of translating it as "... ordinary judge, who, in this case, shall remain run over".


Lorenzo Lilli  Identity Verified
Local time: 09:14
German to Italian
+ ...
Yes Dec 16, 2007

Yes, I do it quite often. That's the funniest part of our job after all (apart from writing big fat invoicesicon_wink.gif )


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Poll: Do you ever think of funny, literal & obviously wrong translations of words while translating?

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