Many of us have heard the expression ‘lost in translation’ but don’t really know what it means. In most cases, it refers to how a quote, passage or phrase in one language can lose its nuance, subtleties and characteristics when being translated into another language. For instance, when Kentucky Fried Chicken made their move into China, little did they know that their famous slogan “Finger lickin’ good” translated into “eat your fingers off.” When Green Giant produce and the Jolly Green Giant moved into the Middle East, the Arabic translation literally turned him into the “Intimidating Green Ogre.” Such challenges in translating can cost a business millions of dollars and leave people rather embarrassed.
With thousands of spoken languages around the world, the chances for bad translations are pretty good. Every language has its own sets of meaning, symbols and pronunciations – all of which can dramatically affect the meaning of a word and the resulting translation. Anyone who has ever learned a new language (or two) knows how even the smallest of spelling mistakes can totally change a phrase’s meaning. Don’t believe us? Take the German words ‘schiessen’ and ‘scheisse.’ Both look very similar but the subtle switch can cause a massive change in meaning where one minute you are shooting to the next you are defecating.
Tourists and travellers on business often find themselves presented with rather bizarre and amusing translations. It can make a shop appear as though it is offering an illegal service or a restaurant is selling rather strange animal parts. It’s a reminder that not all languages are easily compatible with one another and a word in one culture may have a totally different meaning in another. Added into the challenge for translation is the fact that many words can have several meanings or definitions and languages which use symbols can have several meanings per symbol. Throw in the confusion of slang terms and it’s easy to see why terrible translations can happen.
The following video takes yet another look at bad translations. It’s the second in our ‘bad translations’ series, so be sure to watch the first one if you missed it. Restaurant menus, public signs, market advertisements and clothing all fall victim to bad translations, often with hilarious consequences. Like our previous video, many of the examples you’ll see ahead are from China – a country whose various dialects often don’t translate smoothly (or subtly) into English. In addition,TheRichest have included some entrants from other South East Asian countries and even Europe. As you will no doubt note while watching, funny translations can be a result of cultural differences, a lazy translator or the lack of a proper word to make that phrase sound just right. From cringe-worthy to laugh-out-loud funny, these translations definitely qualify as bad.
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