Translation can seem to be easier than it actually is. Many people think it is simply the replacement of the source word with the corresponding translated word. Syntax, grammar, linguistic nuance and colloquialisms all play a part in translation and widen the potential for mistranslation. Mistranslations can often be hilarious and are a regular occurrence when translating from Mandarin to English. Let’s look at some of these inopportune mistranslations below –
• The Dried Vegetables sign in a Chinese supermarket was mistakenly translated as “Fuck vegetables” in English.
• A road sign that asks for caution was mistranslated in English to say “Beware of Safety”.
• A bar menu listing Whiskey and Coke read “Whiskey and Cock” instead.
• The sign above a fire extinguisher read “Hand Grenade” in English.
• The sign displaying a dumpling was made to read “dumping”.
• No discount was incorrectly translated to read “No discount”.
• A construction in progress sign was translated to read “Execution in progress”.
• A road sign that prohibits drunken driving was translated to read “Do Drunken Driving” instead.
• A sign advertising Fresh Crab in a market read “Fresh Crap” instead
Mistranslations can occur in any language. Time and patience make for good translation and help avoid these mistakes.