Saturday, 12 March 2016

6 signs when you need to hire a translator







Well, I've been on travels again. Most recently, I visited Cuba and South America.

Armed with a pair of eyes and a digital camera, I managed to catch a few translation howlers...

1. The towel rain

Remember my previous blog "You tube if you want to"?  The German hotel told us to put the towel in the bath-tube, not in the bath tub.  Well in a Santiago hotel, I came across a similar issue:











Spanish: Las toallas en el toallero significan "Las usaré una vez más".

English: "Towels on the towel-rain mean, "They will be used again".  

Well, you can put this down to a typo. And most people would understand that you'd put a towel on a towel rail or tower rack.

2. Don't reach your head or hands out of the window




















This time, we're on a coach in Havana, Cuba.  

Spanish: No alargue la cabeza o la mano fuera de la ventana 

English:  Don't reach your head or hands out of the window.

At best, this sign is amusing.   What if my head and hands have detached from my body and flown out of the window? Surely I'd need to reach for my head and hands in this instance? 

But you know what they're trying to tell you. 

"Do not lean out of the window." 

In other words, while it is relaxing to stick your head and hands into the breeze, we wouldn't want a passing vehicle to injure you.

3. Do not traspassing














Here, we are at Puente del Inca, a natural rock bridge in Mendoza Province, Argentina.

Spanish:   Sr Visitante: Por PELIGRO de Derrumbe el PUENTE NATURAL permanece cerrado. 
Resolución N° 1119/2005: EVITE SANCIONES

English:  DO NOT TRASPASSING

They probably meant "do not trespass" or "no trespassing".  Trespassing has a legal meaning. It means to enter a private property without permission.  But that's not the only reason why you should enter.  

In this case, the bridge could collapse at any time. That's why this area is closed to the public.  I'd say here: 

DO NOT ENTER - THIS BRIDGE IS AT RISK OF COLLAPSE!

4. Attack's risck

















This is a sign on the Brazilian side of Iguazu falls

Portuguese:  CUIDADO - NÃO ALIMENTE OS QUATIS - Risco de ataques 

English:  CAUTION - DO NOT FEED THE QUATIS - Attack's risck


A quati or coati is a raccoon-like animal found in Central and South America. Here are two:
















At first, they look innocent and cute.  But if you start to feed them, they get aggressive and can bite you.  


Now "Attack's risck" is not clear.  You could either say, "attack risk". But you can translate literally here and say:

"RISK OF ATTACK"

5. DON'T OVERTAKE THE BANISTER




















Again, we are in the Brazilian national park of Iguazu falls.
This time, they're telling us:

Portuguese:  NÃO ULTRAPASSE O GUARDA-CORPU

English:  DON'T OVERTAKE THE BANISTERS


Total nonsense!   Am I on a racetrack or highway?  It sounds like I can't go over, but can I go under the banister?  The sign seems to tell us we can't.  They probably meant: 

"Do not cross the guard rail".

5. And the winner is...


















Now across the border on the Argentine side of the Iguazu falls, we see...: 

Spanish: AREA DE USO EXCLUSIVO DE LOS FOTOGRAFOS HABILITADOS

English: AREA ABILITY JUST FOR PHOTOGRAPHERS AUTHORIZE

Well looks like we have a winner! This is complete gobbledegook!   This should say:

"RESTRICTED AREA - AUTHORIZED PHOTOGRAPHERS ONLY."

Now, do you have any examples of amusing mistranslations?   Post them in the comments section or send them to me at  info@neelangues.com !

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