When Translated Tattoos go Wrong

Everyone has tattoos now-a-days, particularly the hipsters. Even our Prime Minister, David Cameron’s wife has one, and it seems their popularity is continuing to grow. I saw a survey a while back that said that 20 percent of all British adults now have at least one tattoo, with the over 60s being the smallest group to have them at only 9 percent. The 16 to 44-year age group has most tattoos with 29 percent having tattoos.

With around 14 percent of school teachers admitting they have tattoos, this type of body art is more mainstream that many would admit to. Once a tattoo has been inked, though, individuals regretting their body art need the images and wording removed using lasers or can cover tattoos with new ones, although tattoo laser removal is extremely painful. Increasingly, the tattoo artist in the UK is likely to be an arts graduate, as tattoos are seen to be fashionable and body enhancing. That’s not the case globally, however.

Angelina Jolie had the names of her two ex-husbands inked over with new tattoos after the divorces, not everyone has this option though. The increased numbers of people sporting tattoos has led to some amusing errors, spelling mistakes (or even just plain nastiness on the part of some tattoo artists!) when it comes to written forms of body art and translating foreign languages. Read more

Idioms from around the world

Idioms of the World

This article, written by Sam Brown, originally appears on the Comtec translation blog. Used with the author’s consent.

Foreign idioms are always a source of trouble, and sometimes hilarity, when trying to translate them. Every translator knows this but it was the post by Matt Lindley for Hotel Club that really got the team at Comtec thinking. After reading his piece we discussed the funniest foreign phrases we could think of and came up with the following 10 which we love. Read more

28 Signs we didn’t Translate

Something tells me the translations of the following 28 signs are not quite right.

Its was an accident


Anyone missed a foot?

beware-of-missing-foot Read more

10 Food packs we DIDN’T translate

Translating food packaging isn’t easy – we should know because we do over a thousand products a week. These guys have got it so wrong its funny but could you imagine your product on shelf saying something stupid in a different language? Nor could we, give us a call and we’ll sort it out for you.

For now… here are the top ten disasters we’ve seen this week. In no particular order… Read more

Does the German Language Sound Angry?

Just like different types of music, each language has its own distinctive sound. French, often described as the “language of love,” could be compared to a soft, seductive ballad. English might be a radio-friendly pop song. But what about German? By reputation at least, the mother tongue of Bach, Beethoven and Goethe is the death metal of languages. Non-German speakers often describe it as “harsh,” “angry” and “guttural.”

This reputation is used to hilariously good effect in the videos below, which translate the same word into multiple languages, ending with German:

Read more

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