Last year we resumed our summer translation fails series, after a couple of years off during COVID-19. We had so much fun hunting down translation gaffes while the world had a long-awaited return to enjoying the summer holidays.
With tourists landing in every country around the world for a sun-soaked break, there is ample opportunity for a well-meaning translation to go wrong. So, without further ado, let’s enjoy some mistranslations in good humour.
All signs point to confusion
Signs featuring English translations are essential for holidaymakers looking to navigate and ensure they are following rules and customs when abroad in an unfamiliar environment.
Poorly translated signs are a tourist’s worst nightmare. “Please wait outside rice-flour noodle”, for instance, is difficult to comprehend, and we’re sure this sign led a few tourists to scratch their heads.
And a plant wearing prickles must be dressed to kill, at least the message is clear that the plant shouldn’t be touched at all costs.
“Toilet the place of prayer”
While a toilet can allow some time for peaceful reflection, we hardly think it’s the appropriate place for reciting a prayer. Let’s just say we wouldn’t take this sign at its word.
Cheese so good it’s paralysing
We’ve heard of a food coma, but food so good it paralyses you, that’s another level! That’s the cheese we don’t need to try. We hope the translator in question doesn’t blush too hard at their mistake, as it’s certainly made our day.
Please do not follow the rules
A sign at a swimming pool somewhere in France urges swimmers not to follow the rules. Perhaps the writer thought that a case of reverse psychology would work on younger swimmers?
It appears therefore that the sign urges swimmers to:
- Wear flippers
- Play with balls
- Bring their pets
- Wear shoes
- Wear swimming shorts
- Eat food in the pool
Sounds like the most relaxing pool in the world, sign us up for the summer holidays.
“Please do not feed the flamingos”, so says a sign at The Ciudad Mitad del Mundo, an area of land in Ecuador. Here, a monument marks the exact location of the Equator, from which the country of Ecuador gets its name. The Republic of Ecuador, the official name of the South American country directly translates to “Republic of the Equator”.
The obvious problem with the sign is that it appears that the designer, or the translator, became confused between a flamingo and a dog, or is it a horse? It’s an easy mistake to make, we’re sure.
Don’t make the same mistakes
If you spot any sign translation fails on your travels this year, please share them at @Bubbles_trans on Twitter, we’d love to see them!
It’s all fun and games until a mistranslation from your brand turns up on an article like this – perhaps in our 2023 summer translation fails? To ensure your business does not end up on a future edition of our translation fails, consider our professional translation services. Get in touch with us to discover how we can help rejuvenate your international marketing efforts.
In the meantime, enjoy your summer holidays, and keep your phone handy for any signs you spot which get lost in translation.