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Hillary Clinton Translation

Clinton in Translation Faux Pas

Sergei Lavrov had a laugh at Hilary Clinton on Friday when she gave him a small token gift.

Hilary Clinton the US Secretary of State met with Russian Foreign Minister, Sergei Lavrov to discuss how the US and Russia can ‘reset’ relations.

Mrs Clinton handed Sergi Lavrov a small box which had a button inside, this was a token gift to represent the ‘resetting’ of relations between the two countries. The button had the word ‘reset’ printed on it and a Russian translation was printed underneath.

As reporters watched Clinton assured Lavrov that her staff had worked hard to get the translation right. Unfortunately it was wrong, Lavrov smiled as he pointed this out to the US Secretary of State.

The Americans had chosen the Russian word ‘peregruzka’ which means ‘overloaded’ or ‘overcharged’ rather than ‘reset’.

Despite some embarrassment the two of them laughed it off in front of the media. They both pushed the button together to signify their shared hopes for a better relationship in the future.

Later that day at a news conference the two of them joked together about the mistake.

The BBC reported Lavrov as saying through his interpreter, “We have reached an agreement on how ‘reset’ is spelled in both Russian and English – we have no more differences between us.”

Mrs Clinton managed to turn her mistake around in her speech saying, “we are resetting, and because we are resetting, the minister and I have an ‘overload’ of work.

Perhaps Hilary Clinton’s staff should have looked into proofreading. Once a translation has been done the proofreader will check that both the translation and the context are correct.

It seems the light hearted gift didn’t do the relationship any harm and hopefully any future translations by the US government will be checked.

The Untranslatables

No, it’s not another film about a family of superheroes or a documentary following members of society who lack certain skills… The Untranslatables is a non-exhaustive list I have started, comprising words or phrases that are not easily rendered in another language. Interestingly, it is these that punctuate the days of a translation project manager with the most tears and the most laughs… Read more

Plane-translation-mistake

Lost In Translation: French Panic On Plane

French passengers on board an Aer Lingus Dublin to Paris flight had a fright when the captain made a routine announcement earlier this week.

On the 4th August the A320 Airbus flight took off with around 70 people on board many of whom were French.

Twenty minutes into the flight after leaving Dublin, an English announcement was made that the plane was due to hit some turbulence and could all passengers return to their seats and belt up. Air Lingus Airlines then played a pre-recorded message for the French passengers.

Unfortunately the pre-recorded message told the French passengers that the plane was coming down and they should prepare to ditch!

One passenger is quoted in the Irish Examiner newspaper today saying that there was a French gentleman sitting next to him on the plane who was asleep. As soon as the announcement was made the man sat up looking very startled.

The announcement translated into English as ‘prepare for an emergency landing, note where the nearest emergency exit is and wait for further instructions from the captain.’

Scary stuff considering they were flying out over the Atlantic at the time. It’s reported that it took the cabin crew a few minutes to figure out what had happened. They immediately made an announcement via the PA system apologising for playing the wrong announcement in French.

Thankfully it wasn’t a real emergency but it would have been very scary for all the people involved.

Translation Fails in the Wild: A Trip to the Asian Dollar Store

Near my house, there is a small shopping center dominated by Asian-owned businesses. There is a Thai restaurant, an Asian market, a Taekwondo studio…and a “dollar store” featuring a variety of cheap goods, mostly made in China.

I love the Asian dollar store.  They have everything:  random bits of hardware, freaky colored contacts, luggage, wigs and so much more.  They also make some rather interesting merchandising decisions, like interspersing saw blades amongst the pedicure supplies.

And then there are the products that seem to have gotten lost in translation, with packaging that ranges from the awkward to the incomprehensible. Here are some of my favorites:

The Oxygen Bar

asiandollarstore1

I’m not sure what this does…perhaps it’s some sort of humidifier? The words on the box are less than enlightening:

“Between noise and peace there is a bridge, Brought them together, Just like human being and nature, is alwaysinsep arable.”

You know what else should be inseparable?  The letters in the word “inseparable.”

The Coffee Set

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“The features of practicality and beautyshow perfection; greatestefforts and endlessseeking”

Just what I was looking for in a coffee set!

Amphibious Pal and Her Baby

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“It really swim s and crawls” What is with the random spaces here?

Aquatic Animals Anion Humidifier

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“Fresh: Come back to natural, purify the air.

Add wetly: Transfer water in to fog moist air

Cosmetology: Create the foggy oxygen bar, wet the skin.

Intersperse: Interior decoration, the fashion is furnished.”

Uh-huh.

Bonus: Personal Air Conditioner Instructionsasiandollarstore5

This one is actually from Costco, but it was too good not to share.

When you’re trying to sell your product in a foreign market, the last thing in the world you want is to leave potential buyers scratching their heads as they try to translate your translations.  Don’t rely on Google Translate. You need a skilled translator. Take a look and see how we can help!

Lost in Translation: 2 Cuban Pitchers

In the World Baseball Classic, an error in translation caused the Cuban baseball team to lose two of its top relief pitchers for their game against Mexico on Monday, March 16th.

According to the New York Times, in the World Baseball Classic, the official rules are always in English. However, an ‘unofficial’ Spanish translation was provided to the teams from Mexico and Cuba. Unfortunately, whoever translated the Spanish version made a minor error that demonstrates how important accuracy in translation can be.

According to the rules, relievers are not allowed to pitch the day after they throw thirty or more pitches. In Spanish, “30 or more” is translated as “trienta o mas.” The translator translated the phrase as “mas que trienta,” which means “more than thirty.”

Based on the translation, the Cuban coach pulled his two best relief pitchers out of Sunday’s game against Japan after they had each thrown exactly 30 pitches.

The goal was to keep the pitchers available for the game against Mexico on Monday, since they would have exactly 30 pitches, not “more than 30 pitches.” However, since the English document is the ‘official’ document, the two pitchers were disqualified.

Gene Orza, the World Baseball Classic player’s union’s chief operation officer, offered this assessment of the situation:

“It was a mistranslation — a mistranslation of what in English are very clear rules,” Orza said. “It’s a very unfortunate situation. But the English rules are the controlling document. We feel terribly that in trying to do a good thing something bad happened.”

“They were clearly very unhappy with the situation, but they did understand it,” Orza said of the Cuban officials. “I am eternally grateful for the class that Cuba showed. I think it’s fair to say we will endeavour to have an official Spanish rules document prepared for next time.” -New York Times

This may have actually worked out to Cuba’s benefit, since those pitchers had some extra rest before Wednesday’s elimination game. However, it wasn’t enough-Cuba played Japan again and lost.

Funny Sign Translations: 30 More Signs We Didn’t Translate

Signs, signs, everywhere there’s signs . . . but sometimes they get lost in translation! We’ve scoured the Internet for funny sign translations, and this is what we found. We certainly didn’t translate any of these, but we hope they give you a laugh:

Well, that’s not helpful

Lost in translation

If this place catches fire, we’re in trouble…

What AM I supposed to do then?

tsinc2x

Imgur/ JaromirAzarov

I’ll just stand here looking bored, I suppose . . .

It’s the end of the world as we know it…

datnbyh

As if pressing the big red button wasn’t tempting enough, pressing this particular big red button appears to bring on the apocalypse. You know you want to push it, just to see what happens. Don’t you?

Bad trip, man, bad trip!

kywqwrh

Sounds like someone should have passed on the brown acid…

I think I’ve lost my appetite. . .

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Imgur/JaromirAzarov

I’m not sure what they serve here, but I don’t think I want it for breakfast.

Brilliant idea

 6rw1gul

Just what everyone needs after a night out of Indian food! Someone is going to make a fortune off this. Read more

Crowd-Sourced Translation Goes Awry For Facebook

Facebook’s crowd-sourced translation app has helped the company translate Facebook into over 100 different languages quickly and cheaply. However, the company (and many of its users) just discovered one of the downsides of crowd-sourcing- vulnerability to online pranksters.

The problem was discovered on July 28th, when Spanish and Turkish-speaking Facebook users logged on to find their pages filled with profanity in both English and Spanish. For example, according to this article on The Register, the Turkish version of Facebook’s IM error message, which is supposed to read “Your message could not be sent because the recipient is offline,” was changed to say “ “Your message could not be sent because of your tiny penis.” That’s pretty much the only example that’s even printable.

Why did Facebook suddenly start cursing at its users?  Facebook’s translation app depends on users to vote for the most accurate translations for each piece of text. That works great, as long as the people are voting are honestly trying to be helpful. Unfortunately for Facebook, members of a Turkish online forum called Inci Sözlük worked together to create the profane “translations” and vote them up. This vulnerability is inherent in any sort of crowd-sourcing unless precautions are taken. For example, when young Canadian pop star Justin Bieber tried to “crowd-source” a stop on his world tour, his contest was hijacked by the internet pranksters at 4chan, who promptly voted to send him to North Korea.

Rik Ferguson, a security consultant at Trend Micro, told the Register that this prank should serve  as “teachable moment,” both for Facebook and for other companies that use crowd-sourcing:

“Perhaps it is fortunate that the hole has been exposed through a prank in the first instance and not something more nefarious. Any online service, whether it’s translation or reputation services, which solicits user generated content would be well advised to quality check that content before going live with it.”

Top 10 Asian English Translation Failures

Accurately translating text from Japanese or Chinese to English (or vice versa) can be a difficult task. The languages are just so different, both grammatically and phonetically. Meanwhile, small Asian businesses often don’t have the resources to get a proper translator and rely on machine translation instead. The resulting translations are sometimes odd and nonsensical, and often hilarious. If you need a laugh, Engrish.com has a constantly growing collection of these mistranslations and malapropisms. Here are 10 of my personal favorites:

  1. Hand grenade:” Found over a fire extinguisher in China.
  2. “The grass is smiling at you. Please detour.” Found on a “Keep off the grass” sign from China. Why yes, don’t mind if I do…
  3. “Nokia – Connocting poopie.” Found over a cell phone shop in Manzhouli, China. Obviously, this should say “Nokia – Connecting people.” But it doesn’t.
  4. Read more

Talking Business: How to Avoid a Translation Fail

Some phrases just don’t translate-especially when you are relying on a computer to do the heavy lifting. The International Trade website has published a list of English business phrases that don’t translate well, and it illustrates this point beautifully.

Take, for example, the common English expression “give me a ballpark figure.” Translated into Russian literally, as a computer would do it, you get “Give to me the diagram of the baseball stadium.” Unless you’re in the baseball stadium construction business, that simply won’t do. In Spanish, “We’ll hit the ground running” turns into a phrase that brings to mind an action movie: “We will strike the earth operation.” The best of the bunch is probably the literal Chinese translation of the phrase “We need to get our ducks in a row.” Once translated, it becomes “We need to obtain our duck continuously.” What?!?!

So, how do you avoid sounding like an idiot when you deal with foreign clients? The best course of action is to avoid machine translation if at all possible-it simply isn’t reliable enough yet. If you do need to use machine translation for a business project, write in simple language, avoiding metaphors, figurative language, jargon and colloquial expressions.

Richard Brooks, General Manager of UK based translation firm K International, has the following advice for UK businesses:

“Idioms are common place in workplaces across Britain and its fine (within reason) to use them in your local marketing activities. The tricky part comes in when you need to translate that message for use in another region.

Computers (at the moment) simply cannot understand the real meaning behind these idioms. For copy, that when translated is intended to convert potentially interested parties into sales revenue then a real human being must be used in the translation process.

For the best results recreating your message for use in another country a service such as transcreation should be used which includes incountry testing and cultural focus groups.

Get it right and you’ll have a winning marketing campaign that will spread like wildfire (excuse the idiom) in the blogs and social media networks, get it wrong and people will think you’re an idiot”

Assuming you have a competent interpreter, human-powered translation is always superior because human interpreters recognize expressions like these and know how to translate them appropriately to convey the correct meaning.

A Latin Translation Error, Carved in Stone 

The public library in Moorestown, New Jersey has an admirable motto: “We confirm all things twice.” After the unveiling of their new building this week, the staff there is probably wishing they’d lived up to those words.

The designs for the building included a Latin translation of the library’s motto, carved into two stone medallions on the building. Unfortunately, the translation was  hopelessly wrong, and nobody bothered to confirm it even once.  The error wasn’t uncovered until after the building was complete and the motto was quite literally carved in stone.  In the words of the great philosopher Homer J. Simpson: “D’oh!”

The translation used on the library walls was “‘nos secundus coniecto omnia,” which Google translates as “We second-guess all” and anyone who actually speaks Latin knows is just a jumbled mess.

The building’s designers can’t even blame technology for the error; head architect Rick Ragan admitted in the Daily Mail that the botched translation “was attempted by a staff member who looked through a Latin dictionary.”

Ragan continued:

“We’ve looked at the definition of the words. It says that the verb says, ‘think, include, conclude, judge and confirm. But Google’s version, and I’m old enough to admit that I’ve never translated anything on Google or conjugated (anything). Their version is that ‘We all second-guess.”

The Daily Mail also has an excellent breakdown of all the things wrong with the translation:

“While ‘nos’ can mean ‘we’, it is in fact unnecessary because verbs in Latin contain who is doing them in the way the word ends. Coniecto – the verb in the sentence – in fact means ‘I conclude’ or ‘I guess’. The ‘we’ form would be ‘coniectamus’. Likewise, ‘secundus’ is an adjective meaning ‘second’, but even in conjunction with a verb meaning guess, does not mean ‘second-guess’. The correct way to render ‘we confirm all things twice’ would be ‘bis verificamus omnia‘.”

Ragan’s firm will now be paying for stonecutter to fix the medallions, as well as to correct some missing Roman numerals on other parts of the facade. A quick phone call to the nearest Latin professor would have saved them quite a bit of trouble and embarrassment.

If you’re thinking of translating any of your business communications by “looking through a dictionary,” stop. Do not pass go.  Do not collect $100. Call us and get your message properly translated!