Don’t Jump…. Get yourself a donkey!

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Translating documents is not an easy business, a word can mean one thing in one language but something different in another if translated literally. When translating important life saving information leaflets it is essential to proofread the text to make sure it reads correctly and fluently.

Here is a good example of when things go badly wrong…

A fire brigade leaflet produced for Strathclyde Fire and Rescue Service offering advice on how to escape from your home.

Written in English the text read,

Never jump straight out of a window, lower yourself onto cushions

This was translated into Urdu, the result was very interesting. It read…

Never jump out of a window straight. Put yourself on a donkey and come down.

Teacher Ilfan Malik explained: “The Urdu word for cushion is gadda. But the word for donkey is gadha.”

A spokesman for Strathclyde Fire and Rescue apologised, adding: “A replacement leaflet will be distributed soon.”

There’s never a donkey around when you need one!

An important lesson on how you must never confuse the letters h and d. It can have serious repercussions, particularly if you cannot find a donkey.

It would have been beneficial to have had the document proofread. Having another translator reading the translated text means the context and spelling etc… can be checked, eliminating the problem of misinterpretation.