At the hotel you can find a breakfast room and a coffee shop apart from the 100 - 120 person brassiere which offers Hungarian specialities and international cuisine for the guests and customers from the city.
In an East African newspaper: A new swimming pool is rapidly taking shape since the contractors have thrown in the bulk of their workers.
In a Vienna hotel: In case of fire, do your utmost to alarm the hotel porter.
A sign posted in Germany's Black Forest: It is strictly forbidden on our black forest camping site that people of different sex, for instance, men and women, live together in one tent unless they are married with each other for that purpose.
In a Zurich hotel: Because of the impropriety of entertaining guests of the opposite sex in the bedroom, it is suggested that the lobby be used for this purpose.
In an advertisement by a Hong Kong dentist: Teeth extracted by the latest Methodists.
A translated sentence from a Russian chess book: A lot of water has been passed under the bridge since this variation has been played
In a Rome laundry: Ladies, leave your clothes here and spend the afternoon having a good time.
In a Czechoslovakian tourist agency: Take one of our horse-driven city tours - we guarantee no miscarriages.
Advertisement for donkey rides in Thailand: Would you like to ride on your own ass?
On the faucet in a finnish washroom: To stop the drip, turn cock to right.
In the window of a Swedish furrier: Fur coats made for ladies from their own skin.
On the box of a clockwork toy made in Hong Kong: Guaranteed to work throughout its useful life.
Detour sign in Kyushi, Japan: Stop: Drive Sideways
In a Swiss mountain inn: Special today - no ice cream.
In a Bangkok temple: It is forbidden to enter a woman even a foreigner if dressed as a man.
In a Tokyo bar: Special cocktails for the ladies with nuts.
Tokyo hotel: It is forbidden to steal hotel towels please. If you are not person to do such thing is please not to read notis.
Another Tokyo hotel: You are invited to take advantage of the chambermaid.
In a Copenhagen airline ticket office: We take your bags and send them in all directions.
On the door of a Moscow hotel room: If this is your first visit to the USSR, you are welcome to it.
In a Norwegian cocktail lounge: Ladies are requested not to have children in the bar.
At a Budapest zoo: Please do not feed the animals. If you have any suitable food, give it to the guard on duty.
In the office of a Roman doctor: Specialist in women and other diseases.
In an Acapulco hotel: The manager has personally passed all the water served here.
Bucharest: The lift is being fixed for the next day. During that time, we regret that you will be unbearable.
Austria: Not to perambulate the corridors in the hours of repose in the boots of ascension.
Hong-Kong tailor shop: Ladies may have a fit upstairs.
Bangkok dry cleaner: Drop your trousers here for best results.
Rhodes tailor shop: Order your summer suit. Because is big rush, we will execute customers in strict rotation.
Portuguese patent agent: 'It will not be necessary to state the name and address of the inventor if the applicant is not himself.'
Majorca: - English well talking
- Here speeching American
On a menu of a Polish hotel: Salad a firm's own make; limpid red beer soup with cheesy dumplings in the form of a finger; roasted duck let loose; beef rashers beaten up in the country people's fashion.
A Hungarian mistranslation in a customs list: Sporting firearms with ammunition = sportoló tűzoltók ellátmánnyal (athletic firemen with supplies)
The Revolting Cigar-Makeress
The following is an extract from a synopsis of Carmen, thoughtfully provided some years ago by the Paris Opera for the benefit of its English and American patrons:
Carmen is a cigar-makeress from a tabago factory who loves with Don Jose of the mounting guard. Carmen takes a flower from her corsets and lances it to Don Jose (Duet: 'Talk me of my mother'). There is a noise inside the tabago factory and the revolting cigar-makeress bursts into the stage. Carmen is arrested and Don Jose is ordered to mounting guard her but Carmen subduces him and he lets her escape.
ACT 2. The Tavern. Carmen, Frasquita, Mercedes, Zuniga, Morales. Carmen's aria ('the sistrums are tinkling'). Enter Escamillio, a balls-fighter. Enter two smugglers (Duet: 'We have in mind a business') but Carmen refuses to penetrate because Don Jose has liberated from prison. He just now arrives (Aria: 'Slop, here who comes!') but hear are the bugles singing his retreat. Don Jose will leave and draws his sword. Called by carmen shrieks the two smugglers interfere with her but Don Jose is bound to dessert, he will follow into them (final chorus: 'Opening sky wandering life')...
ACT4, a place in Seville. Procession of balls-fighters, the roaring of the balls heard in the arena. Escamillio enters. (Aria and chorus: 'Toreador, toreador, All hail the balls of a Toreador'.) Enter Don Jose (ARIA: I do not threaten, I besooch you'.) but Carmen repels himwants to join with Escamillio now chaired by the crowd. Don Jose stabs her (Aria: 'Oh rupture, rupture, you may arrest me, I did kill der') he sings 'Oh my beautiful Carmen, my subductive Carmen...'
It all ads up to a laugh in any language
Tim Miles, Eye on America
Sunday Express, July 10, 1994
THE billions of dollars spent on advertising by U.S. conglomerates - there's a commercial on TV every second of every day - ensures that whatever the product, it is firmly embedded in the consciousness.
Getting the message across to an international audience, however, can prove much trickier.
Glitches in translation have often had hilarious results.
Sometimes ignorance of another country's culture results in vociferous protests.
McDonald's promotion of the World Cup upset Moslems when the Saudi Arabian flag, with its Koranic text, was stamped on the burger wrappers. But the translation traumas make for a lot more fun at the expense of the boardroom stuffed shirts.
When Kentucky Fried Chicken exported its "Finger Lickin' Good" slogan to the Chinese, it emerged as "Eat Your Fingers Off".
Similarly, Pepsi didn't have much luck trying to persuade the Chinese to guzzle their cola. "Come Alive With The Pepsi Generation" somehow ended up in the native tongue as "Pepsi Will Bring Your Ancestors Back From The Dead".
In Spain, the Parker Pen company pushed its products with the dullish poster slogan which should have read: "To avoid embarrassment use Parker Superquink". To the equal embarrassment of the manufacturers, the final version trumpeted: "To avoid pregnancy use Parker Superquink".
Whether the Spanish swallowed it, or inserted it, remains a mystery.
Coors Beer lost its fizz in Spain as well when their hip phrase "Turn It Loose" came out as "Drink Coors and Get Diaorrhea".
And when Otis Engineering took part in an exhibition in Moscow, a translator somehow managed to render a "completion equipment" sign into "equipment for orgasms". "Body by Fisher", boasted the auto giant General Motors. "Corpse by Fisher" was how the Belgians read it.
Car names in particular don't travel well. The Pinto, made by Ford, is a Brazilian slang for a small sex organ. And when GM introduced the Nova into Spain, they quickly discovered the words no and va mean "doesn't go".
But the blunders can work the other way round. Roger Axtell, who has written six books on the do's and don'ts of internationl business, cites several foreign brands which didn't click in the United States, including a French soft drink called "Pshitt" and the Japanese cofee creamer "Creap". I can't think why.
These are examples of how a determined copy-typist can bring to life a piece of rather humdrum English, not to mention mediocre translation. The passage quoted is part of a Yugoslavian hotel brochure.
'The hotel is responsible for money valuables only when deposited in the sofe at the reception desk.
Check - ont time is mid - day and the room should be vacated by 2 p.m. or you will be charged for an adrtional ught.
Returu your key to the holl parter when leaving the room.
Please settle your account at the coshier's weckly.
If you do not wish to be disturbed, haug on the ont side of the door the sign provided.
Voltage is 220 V but the use of the electric i rous or telt les is not permitted.
For schedube and programmes of theaters as well as the tickets for all the types of performances, please, consult (he hall parter).
Ladie's and gentlemen's hairdressing salloon is on the ground floor.
On req nest your laundry will be washed and ironed in the shortest time as possible; please call the chambermaid (the haundry bag is in your room).
An underground garage for your car is al your disposal, too the vehicles in the parking place are not insured by the hotel.
Cocktail parties, private and business meetings, banqnets, (will con be arranged) on your behalf by us.'
Not to be outdone by their yugoslavian counterparts, a hotel in Brno generously informs its clients that: 'The flattening of underwear with plessure is the job of the chambermaid. Turn to her straight away.'
Hotel English is, of course, an integral part of one's stay abroad, a linguistic touch of local colour. I, for one, would refuse on principle to stay in a hotel whose brochure was written in perfect English. Beware! - beneath that shiny language gloss they are almost certainly trying to hide something!
This philosphy is shared by an Italian company who manufacture a product called 'Stonit'; I was so inspired by their honest advertising that I rushed out straightaway and bought great quantities of the stuff, though I had no idea what I was going to do with it:
'Our goal is to develop and persue a simple idea: "to take up spaces unattainable by other materials".
Once more an italian product, "STONIT" is brought on the market of outstanding esthetics and advanced technology.
STONIT is, above all, "itself", far from seeking to imitate conventional stones.
Stone Italiana, first producer has been playing for many years now in this field the role proper to all "NUMBER ONE".'
I still have all my Stonit in the back shed, and it'll probably stay there for many years to come; I don't mind - at least I have the satisfaction of knowing that it's "itself".
A slightly different philosophy affected the translation services at the European Athletics Championships in Split last year. To combat growing commercial interest in the sport, it was decided, among other things, to confer upon translating a truly amateur status. Information given to the press included the following items:
'TV record: At none European championship in athletic there were so many people from TV at one place as it will be in Split.'
'In the sale which is climatised in the hotel "Marjan" six writting machines and six telephone cabins are opened and insured for the purposes of journalists.'
'If journalist needs a doctor: While on sports feelds and in A 90 objects all journalists may use ambulance services which are openede on these places. In both sports villages "Split" and "Duilovo" there are ambulances of general medicine which work from 7-22 o'clock and ambulance on the city stadium is opened from 8-23 o'clock.'
A press release announced that: 'Many honorable people will be at Poljud during the European championship in athletic. Sports and political. Juan Antonio Samaranch, MOK president, ambassadors from many countries the highest Yugoslav functioners.'
And, finally, some useful advice was given to the Yugoslav team manager: 'You may put, if you want, part of the representative in a hotel. "Split", in the new built part. Some representatives will come in Split in the number less expected... Our representatives will mostly arrive on the European championship one by one maybe in groups, but not complete.'
From: "Kathleen M. O'Neill" <koneil1@UIC.EDU>
Date: Fri, 19 Jan 1996 09:38:35 -0600
Subject: HUMOR: Funny Translations
I'm sure you've all seen some of these, but some of them were new to me,
so I thought you might get a kick out of 'em.
Be sure to visit LaughWEB (http://www.misty.com/laughweb/)
*File Description: Slogan Translation*
>From "American Demographics" magazine:
Here is a look at how shrewd American business people translate
their slogans into foreign languages:
When Braniff translated a slogan touting its upholstery, "Fly in
Leather," it came out in Spanish as "Fly Naked."
Coors put its slogan, "Turn It Loose," into Spanish, where it was
read as "Suffer From Diarrhea."
Chicken magnate Frank Perdue's line, "It takes a tough man to make
a tender chicken," sounds much more interesting in Spanish: "It takes
a sexually stimulated man to make a chicken affectionate."
When Vicks first introduce its cough drops on the German market, they
were chagrined to learn that the German pronunciation of "v" is "f,"
which in German is the guttural equivalent of "sexual penetration."
Not to be outdone, Puffs tissues tried later to introduce its product,
only to learn that "Puff" in German is a colloquial term for a whorehouse.
The Chevy Nova never sold well in Spanish speaking countries. "No Va"
means "It Does Not Go" in Spanish.
When Pepsi started marketing its products in China a few years back, they
translated their slogan, "Pepsi Brings You Back to Life" pretty literally.
The slogan in Chinese really meant, "Pepsi Brings Your Ancestors Back from
When Coca-Cola first shipped to China, they named the product something
that when pronounced sounded like "Coca-Cola." The only problem was that
the characters used meant "Bite The Wax Tadpole." They later changed to
a set of characters that mean "Happiness In The Mouth."
When Gerber first started selling baby food in Africa, they used the same
packaging as here in the USA--with the cute baby on the label. Later they
found out that in Africa companies routinely put pictures on the label of
what is inside since most people can not read.
Colgate introduced a toothpaste in France called "Cue," the name of a
notorious porno magazine.
An American T-shirt maker in Miami printed shirts for the Spanish market
that promoted a visit by Pope John Paul II. Instead of "I saw the
Pope"(el Papa), the shirts read "I saw the potato"(la papa).
And finally, an item from Sweden:
Swedish vacuum-cleaner manufacturer Electrolux used the following in an
American campaign: "Nothing sucks like an Electrolux."
Scene: A modestly priced Tokyo hotel (this was back in the days
before the super yen).
"Hotel guests are requested not to steal towels from their rooms. If
you are the kind of person who would not do such a thing, please do
not read this message."
From a hotel in Romania:
"The lift is being fixed for the next few days. During that
time we regret you will be unbearable."
From a Yugoslavian elevator:
"Let us know about an unficiency as well as leaking on the
service. Our utmost will improve it."
"All rooms not denounced by twelve o'clock will be paid for
From a restaurant in Vienna:
"Fried milk, children sandwiches, roast cattle and boiled sheep."
On a Soviet ship in the Black Sea:
"Helpsavering apparata in emergings behold many whistles!
Associate the stringing apparata about the bosoms and meet
behind. Flee then to the indifferent lifesavering shippen
obediencing the instructs of the vessel chef."
On a medicine bottle:
"Adults: 1 tablet 3 times a day until passing away"
This is a blurb from a chocolatebar wrapper:
"Soft and mild, like a Japanese woman. Good flavor and full of juice"
"A sports jacket may be worn to dinner, but no trousers."
The menu also described an egg as "an extract of fowl, peached
or sunside up."
"Sir Loin steak with potato cheeps".
"Utmost of chicken fried in bother."
Window sign in
a coffee shop near Ebisu Station in Tokyo:
Subject: Re: Terrible Translations (was: Verbal aero-batics)
To: Multiple recipients of list LANTRA-L <LANTRA-L@SEARN.SUNET.SE>
I just saw a good one in "alt.usage.german".
Some American asked how to say "pet peeve" in German, and another
guy supplied the answer: "Ärger mit Haustieren".
I love it!
-- Rene von Rentzell firstname.lastname@example.org
Please send me an E-Mail at email@example.com if you want to contribute more mistranslations. Your contributions will be appreciated and included in this collection.