Found in Translation

I’m preparing a class on mistakes and mishaps in translation, and it’s going to be really funny. Aside from the well-known “vuela en cueros” (American Airlines “fly in leather”) and Ford Nova, I found a more nuanced Mazda Laura and Audi-Q3 (say it aloud in Spanish if you don’t get it) and a US movie that translated “the Holy Ghost” as “Santo Fantasma.”

Electrolux’s vacuum cleaner campaign with the jingle “Electrolux really sucks.”

There’s also the famous Russian assorted ice-cream that was translated as “ice-cream in the ass.” And the Spanish “favor de descubrir la cabeza” (please remove your hat) translated as “please discover the head.” And “lugar de culto” (place of worship) as “cult place.” And “me da mucha lata” (it’s so annoying) translated as “he gives me many tins.”

Tons of other great examples. I laughed in my office until I cried.

5 thoughts on “Found in Translation

  1. Not really a translation, but I was listening to some podcast and they would take breaks to advertise “Zipper Kooter”. Only after a while it downed on me that it was really “Zip recruiter”.

    Liked by 2 people

  2. A restaurant in Poland was serving ‘szyjki rakowe” (shelled crawfish) but somehow it got printed in the menu as “cervical cancer”
    I will absolutely not have what she’s having….

    rak – cancer (or crawfish)
    szyjka macicy – cervix

    Liked by 1 person

  3. More menu fun…

    Herring is śledź in Polish (which is written and pronounced the same as the imperative form of śledzić – to track, to follow)

    More than once menus have featured “Follow in cream” or “follow in oil” or (my favorite “Follow the Jewish” (śledź po żydowsku)

    Another translated wina (wines) as ‘Guilt’

    Liked by 1 person

  4. We had a wild time with false friends while out of the country. We puzzled for waaay too long over “anillos de compromiso”. I mean, it was obvious from the jewelry-store posters what they were, but it was impossible to completely get rid of the idea of “compromise rings”– for when you meet a girl who is good enough I guess, and you’re tired of dating…

    Liked by 1 person

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