It’s been a couple of years since we gathered some of the most entertaining mistranslations from various corners of the internet. After our summer translation fails of 2018, and 2019, in this article, we’re revisiting just how badly wrong a translation can go. All the fun aside, poor translations are a serious misstep in international marketing campaigns.
Let’s take a look at these instances of companies dramatically failing to get their points across.
Don’t eat the carpet!
We’re not quite sure why the Airports Authority of India had found that it was quite necessary to alert travellers that the airport’s carpet is off the menu. It certainly raises questions about the quality of fare on offer in the airport’s restaurants and cafes. Perhaps what they were grasping for was to encourage patrons not to eat on the carpet, rather than the tasteful (pun intended) carpet itself. Remind us to pack sandwiches next time we’re passing through…
Paul is dead, long live Paul
Now we’re as distressed as anyone at the news of Paul’s passing, whoever he may be; however, we aren’t exactly sure why this message is used as a label for a tray of meatballs at the Erbil International Hotel. Apparently, what happened was that “meatball” was transliterated literally from Arabic into English. The problem was that meatball is not an Arabic word, so the hotel employees did the only thing they could, and transliterated the text. Oh, the perils of literal translations!
Oh, for the lack of a comma. The missing comma in this sentence must cause its translator nightmares. With a little lateral thinking, the intent is obvious. However, taken at face value, what are motorists meant to believe? That extremely slow children are playing in the area? Or is the true meaning that ethereal ghost children are having a gentle game of catch or hopscotch around the corner? Perhaps we’ll never know.
Closed for good reason
With the pandemic restrictions reducing footfall on the high street over the last year, it’s no surprise that the retail sector has become so distressed. But maybe, just maybe, it’s a good thing that this salon, not “saloon”, as it says in the sign, is closed. What kind of evils take place in the salon, we wonder? Is it crimes against good taste? Do they specialise in 1970s-inspired perms? Or are they responsible for the comeback of the mullet?
Than “Q” for not smoking
The universal no smoking symbol was probably enough here to get the message across. Unfortunately, a translator had a go at translating thank you into English, and to be fair, they did a decent job – at least if you sound out the words “thank you” phonetically.
Well, that’s your lot of hilarious summer 2021 translation fails – Than “Q” for reading.
Make sure your organisation is not included on a future edition of our translation fails. Our professional language translation services will do the trick. Contact us to discover how we can transform your international marketing today.
With limited overseas travel opening up from May 17th, we hope you enjoy your travels, wherever they take you this year. Be sure to keep your eyes peeled for any funny translation errors while you’re there. If you have your phone handy, we’d love to see what you spot.
Share them with us @Bubbles_trans on Twitter.