There are whole websites dedicated to them, and when we travel they are some of the most eagerly retold stories to our friends. They are funny mistranslations, and the internet is rife with examples of hilarious mistakes made by translation services, business signs or web content. Enough that it is hard to make a list of the best ones, due to the large number of honorable mentions.
But my personal favorites are the ones that are reposted by unsuspecting internet users just trying to communicate with people in other countries. Social media may have made connecting with others around the world easier, but that doesn’t mean our communication skills have caught up.
Some of the best examples of bad translations have come from Google Translate, the free service by our Internet overlords. You can get a million hilarious results if you retranslate your translations, but even direct ones can be pretty funny.
- The translator showed its love of Canada in one of its popular translations. So what is the problem? The person was trying to translate I love Sweden.
- In a somewhat sarcastic attempt at humor, someone tried translating “I’m not sure this translator is working” from English to Afrikaans. It came out “I’m not sure hierdie vertaler werk.” Which seems a confirmation, to me.
English as She is Spoke
In the 1800’s, a guide was created for the Portuguese who wanted a basic and easy to use phrasebook in English. The only problem was that it was so bad, the phrases were nearly incomprehensible. It became a popular joke among lingusts.
Zompist decided to take it a step further and ran some of the ludicrous phrases through Babelfish. Here were a few of the results.
- “ I jest of them; my vessel is armed in man of war, i have a vigilant and courageous equipage, and the ammunitions don’t want me its” translates through Babelfish as “ I jeer of them; my ship is armed in war, has vigilant and animosa equipage; e the ammunition do not lack to me.”
- You know the saying “Don’t look a gift horse in the mouth?” The guide advises “A horse baared don’t look him the tooth.” But BF gives much better advice: “The given horse if does not look at to it for the tooth.”
- We all love to eat, which is why someone might say “A full stomach makes for a content face.” Or, as the guide says, “After the paunch comes the dance.” Truly a poetic saying, you might exclaim! But why not break it down even more, like BF: “Full, expensive belly glad.”
Tools For Making Bad Translations
Do you want to make your own translations, and badly? Well, you are in luck! There are a few services that are made for that very purpose. Of course, you could always use one of the real translations services and get some humorous ones, as well.
Do You Need Something *Really* Translated
Don’t become one of the examples of translation fails. Here are few tips:
Do you know of any funny translations you want to share? Let us know in the comments!