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Off topic: Have you ever seen a translation so bad it made you cringe?
Շարքի հրապարակողը: Didi18

Didi18
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Aug 11

I recently came across this one:

"Serve a child-size portion" translated as "Serve a portion of children"

Have you ever seen a translation so bad it made you wonder if the translator actually knew the target language?


Inal Inal
 

Alison Jenner  Identity Verified
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Pet care nightmare Aug 11

The worst I remember seeing (which still makes me want to cry, even thinking about it) was one on pet food and pet care. Logic alone should have told them that some of the things they had written were wrong (lactating kittens, anyone? Or perhaps some "rissoles" (where it should have been dried pet food) for your furry best friend...). Suffice it to say, I hope the translator concerned didn't have any pets of their own.

Didi18
expressisverbis
 

Dan Lucas  Identity Verified
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Not quite that bad Aug 11

Didi18 wrote:
Have you ever seen a translation so bad it made you wonder if the translator actually knew the target language?

Yes, but it's often - in my pair, and with my clients - more subtle than your example. In a project last year, I noticed in passing that a non-native speaker of English had already translated the concept of the company taking a more attacking approach to its business as something like "Our management will strive to be more offensive".

You can see what they were getting at, but it didn't really work. I unlocked the segment and attached a note explaining why this wording might need a rethink. The person who wrote that had, I think, a good understanding of the nuts and bolts of English, but little feel for nuance. And that can be equally dangerous.

Regards,
Dan


Didi18
expressisverbis
Mina Chen
 

Kay-Viktor Stegemann
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What about the source? Aug 11

Didi18 wrote:

I recently came across this one:

"Serve a child-size portion" translated as "Serve a portion of children"

Have you ever seen a translation so bad it made you wonder if the translator actually knew the target language?



In your case, the source is also not really convincing. I think a portion of the size of a child would be quite a serving.

And I have often seen source texts where I wondered if the author actually knew the source language.


DZiW (X)
Zibow Retailleau
Kay Denney
expressisverbis
Alison Jenner
Didi18
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Kay Denney  Identity Verified
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. Aug 11

"jumped apples" on a menu in Paris. (for "pommes sautées", i.e. sautéed potatoes)

And as Kay-Victor says, I have often translated texts so badly written as to wonder whether it wasn't a Klingon native speaker. I've just finished one in fact, where I spent so long wrestling with words that Google.fr didn't know, that I decided to put in a translator's note every time I finally worked out what the word was supposed to be. I told the client that they needed to check each one to make
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"jumped apples" on a menu in Paris. (for "pommes sautées", i.e. sautéed potatoes)

And as Kay-Victor says, I have often translated texts so badly written as to wonder whether it wasn't a Klingon native speaker. I've just finished one in fact, where I spent so long wrestling with words that Google.fr didn't know, that I decided to put in a translator's note every time I finally worked out what the word was supposed to be. I told the client that they needed to check each one to make sure I'd understood correctly, and to get back to me if I hadn't.
Working at the agency, I saw that this was much worse for translators working from English, mainly because too many people think their English is better than it is.
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Didi18
expressisverbis
Cilian O'Tuama
 

expressisverbis
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Yes, some, but I find this one very amusing: Aug 11

In a subtitle's script from English to Portuguese.
"Let's make a toast!" (Vamos fazer um brinde!) turned into: "Let's make a slice of toast!" ("Vamos fazer uma torrada!").
I believe the person who translated this sentence didn't have any video support, or the context was totally ignored.


Didi18
 

Joakim Braun  Identity Verified
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Many times Aug 11

In Kudoz... (seriously)

expressisverbis
LIZ LI
Giuliana Maltempo
Didi18
Michele Fauble
Alison Jenner
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Didi18
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It depends Aug 12

Kay-Viktor Stegemann wrote: I think a portion of the size of a child would be quite a serving.


Unless you are really, really, really hungry.


 

Didi18
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I guess the translator was toast after that Aug 12

expressisverbis wrote:

In a subtitle's script from English to Portuguese.
"Let's make a toast!" (Vamos fazer um brinde!) turned into: "Let's make a slice of toast!" ("Vamos fazer uma torrada!").
I believe the person who translated this sentence didn't have any video support, or the context was totally ignored.


A new way to celebrate
(Uma nova maneira de celebrar)


Kay Denney
expressisverbis
 

Philip Lees  Identity Verified
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Menu items Aug 12

Kay Denney wrote:

"jumped apples" on a menu in Paris. (for "pommes sautées", i.e. sautéed potatoes)



Greek taverna menus in Athens used to be full of howlers. A few I remember:

Spaghetti with mice (mince)

Soup in the eye (in Greek, the gas ring or hotplate is called an "eye")

Lamp chops (a common menu highlight)

... etc.

Things are much better nowadays, though.


expressisverbis
Didi18
 

Slobodan Kozarčić  Identity Verified
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Serbian film translations Aug 12

are riddled with stupid things, but no one cares. Just a few examples:

"Two and a Half Men" show, Fox Serbia and Prva plus TV:
- Charlie was disappointed in the movie he's just watched. His girfriend says: "You don't buy a central premise that a dog can play hockey?" Translated as "You don't buy a large lot so that a dog can play hockey there?" Charlie replies: "Not as a power forward," translated as "Well, that's not a condition."
- "My carpal tunnel is acting up," tra
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are riddled with stupid things, but no one cares. Just a few examples:

"Two and a Half Men" show, Fox Serbia and Prva plus TV:
- Charlie was disappointed in the movie he's just watched. His girfriend says: "You don't buy a central premise that a dog can play hockey?" Translated as "You don't buy a large lot so that a dog can play hockey there?" Charlie replies: "Not as a power forward," translated as "Well, that's not a condition."
- "My carpal tunnel is acting up," translated as "My boss will carp at me again."

"Las Vegas" show, Fox Crime:
- "Mitch, back up camera 43 ten seconds." Transl., "Mice, back up 43 seconds."
- "With a tape measure", translated as "With a camera";
-"Naked trumps fear", translated as "I fear of nudity";
- "Is that Ed with the maintenance guy?" Trans. as "Is Ed now a head of the maintenance service?"
- "Vacation is for the weak," transl. as "One week vacation."

"The 3rd Rock from the Sun show", Prva plus:
- "I worked the graveyard last night," trans. as "I worked in the cemetery."

"First Blood", Fox Movies Serbia:
- If found, you mail this (headband) to Las Vegas. Trans.: I sent a prize game coupon to L.A.

"Primo Carnera" movie, TV 1000:
- "With no future, penniless." Transl., "With no future, with no penis."
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expressisverbis
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LEXpert  Identity Verified
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"Aggressively bad" translations Aug 12

From user information for a plant protection product I received to edit:
- "If a fire breaks out in the warehouse where the product is stored, start another fire in order to put the first one out".
Actual meaning: Initiate fire-fighting measures and call the fire brigade.

-"Always give an unconscious victim fluids by mouth".
Actual meaning: *Never* give an unconscious victim *anything* by mouth.

There were many more examples. Of course, the translation
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From user information for a plant protection product I received to edit:
- "If a fire breaks out in the warehouse where the product is stored, start another fire in order to put the first one out".
Actual meaning: Initiate fire-fighting measures and call the fire brigade.

-"Always give an unconscious victim fluids by mouth".
Actual meaning: *Never* give an unconscious victim *anything* by mouth.

There were many more examples. Of course, the translation had been done by a non-native speaker, but even that could not explain the utter randomness, lack of correspondence with the source text,
and general gross incompetence of this "translation".
It could only be described as "aggressively bad", as if the translator had actually been trying to come up with the worst translation possible. Perhaps some kind of prank or bizarre piece of performance art?
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expressisverbis
Marina Taffetani
Marijaflora
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Rachel Fell  Identity Verified
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It's not ambiguous or unconvincing Aug 12

Kay-Viktor Stegemann wrote:

Didi18 wrote:

I recently came across this one:

"Serve a child-size portion" translated as "Serve a portion of children"

Have you ever seen a translation so bad it made you wonder if the translator actually knew the target language?



In your case, the source is also not really convincing. I think a portion of the size of a child would be quite a serving.

And I have often seen source texts where I wondered if the author actually knew the source language.


It's just English, and a not uncommon expression.


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Chris S  Identity Verified
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Supersize me Aug 12

Rachel Fell wrote:
It's just English, and a not uncommon expression.


True, but I doubt I could make a joke like that in a foreign language...


Didi18
 

Paul Dixon  Identity Verified
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In Brazil Aug 12

In Brazil, some translation errors have become classics:

Against steak with wood sauce = Contra filé ao molho madeira (Madeira is the island off Portugal but is also the Portuguese word for wood) Contra filé is a cut of meat, and 'contra' means against.

Grilled boyfriend = Namorado grelhado (namorado means boyfriend but is also a type of fish)

Sleeve juice = Suco de manga (manga means mango, and also sleeve)

Do it (in the cutlery section) = K
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In Brazil, some translation errors have become classics:

Against steak with wood sauce = Contra filé ao molho madeira (Madeira is the island off Portugal but is also the Portuguese word for wood) Contra filé is a cut of meat, and 'contra' means against.

Grilled boyfriend = Namorado grelhado (namorado means boyfriend but is also a type of fish)

Sleeve juice = Suco de manga (manga means mango, and also sleeve)

Do it (in the cutlery section) = Knife is faca, but faça (with cedilla) is 'do it'

Refrigerant (as a word for a soft drink)

https://www.brazilrocket.com/en/brazil-s-most-funny-and-disastrous-menu-translations?ModPagespeed=noscript
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Didi18
Elizabeth Tamblin
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