Have you ever seen a sign that just made you split your sides? The chances are that the company thought “It’s only a few words, Joe from accounts lived in the country for 6 weeks a few years ago, we’ll save a few quid and ask him to translate it. What could possibly go wrong?” The short answer – plenty.

In Tokyo, a hotel told its guests “Is forbitten to steal hotel towels please. If you
are not person to do such thing is please not to read notis.” It is a backhanded compliment, by assuming that most people wouldn’t dream of stealing anything. It is also a linguistic mess.

A shop in the Balearic Isles went out of its way to make customers aware that they “English well talking.” and “Here speeching American.” Sometimes though, there is absolutely nothing whatsoever wrong with the grammar or syntax. For instance, a Swiss restaurant proudly displayed the following outside the front door: “Special today — no ice cream”. Trade is rumoured to have been brisk.

Another hotel in Japan by way of welcome informed its guests that “YOU ARE INVITED TO TAKE ADVANTAGE OF THE CHAMBERMAID”. What the chambermaids in question thought of this innovative special offer remains unknown.

In this photo, it isn’t just the name which should really have been reconsidered for the English market. The description of the manufacturing process is quite interesting to read.

However, for bad translations, nothing quite beats this example.

The council in question had sent the English version of the sign to the translation department. When the reply came through they simply cut and pasted the words and, voila, a sign went up. It was only later that they realised that the reply had actually been an out of office autoreply stating “I am not in the office at present. Please send me any work to translate”.

As ever, the man from Del Wolfestone, he say “For pity’s sake don’t do it yourselves.” Get a team of professionals to do your translation, however many words it is – or isn’t. Coincidentally, Wolfestone Translation may be able to help you with this….

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