Tuesday’s Terrible Translations

A good translation will clearly convey your message in another language. It should be of the same tone and level of formality whilst still being appropriate for the target language. A terrible translation can mean many things; the message can be incomprehensible, the message can be lost, or the translation can be of poor quality.

You will know from reading the menu at a local takeaway that the translation can come across as if something isn’t quite right, but you still understand what is on offer.

chinese menu

Any written correspondence translated without expertise, can lead to similar results. Here are some of the terrible translations we found this week.

  • In a Turkish to English translation for a clothing advertisement:

“We are this garment with complete satisfaction, for it’s made the NBA to give complete ovality.”

So, yes we understand that they want you to be satisfied. Just. But do we really want to buy an article of clothing that will make us look oval? We’ll pass on that one.

  • In a Spanish to English translation on a food vendor’s sign: “scum” flavoured ice cream was advertised.

Now, for the adventurous type who always choose the item on the menu that they have never had before (or never heard of!) this could be a winner. For the other 99% of society, it is a certain no-no.

scum ice cream

  • In a German to English translation on a clothing care tag: “Washing from left side.”

Hmm, this had me for a moment. Should we be washing this item inside out perhaps? If you have any other suggestions we would love to hear them. Click here to send a message to the Live Translation team.

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