10 Mistranslated Signs that Show the Importance of Translation
Our world allows us to connect at an unprecedented rate. Travel availability, smart devices, and technological advances in translation have made connection simple—regardless of language barriers.
However, it’s important to remember not all translation services are created equally.
Using a subpar translation service can lead to a variety of problems, whether it’s incorrectly reported news, negative ad campaigns, or mistranslated signs and packaging.
And while translation isn’t a guessing game, mistranslations do often leave us guessing about a message’s original intent.
Mistranslated Signs: Why it matters
Signs are created to express information quickly and simply; this means that more often than not, good translation is crucial. When a sign is mistranslated, the message often fails to be conveyed properly, if at all.
Luckily, our brains often connect the dots when it comes to mistranslation. We can see a sign and intuitively understand the intended meaning. Sometimes, however, the message becomes so lost in translation that the original idea is completely inaccessible.
While good translation is always ideal, mistranslated signs are perhaps one of the greatest selling points for quality translation services.
So, to celebrate the beauty of good translation, we’re going to look at a few poor translation examples. The 10 mistranslated signs below highlight the importance of quality linguists, translation providers, and everything in-between.
Let’s get started!
10. “Parents keep your golden!”
The sign below, originally written in Hebrew, more accurately translates to, “Parents, watch your children.” However, through improper translation, it has taken on a more mysterious tone.
Via Lev Echad
9. “So big! Unbelievable! …She loves it.”
Even in the case of proper grammar, context is vital to translation. The sign (or declaration?) below might work for a jewelry ad, but it makes very little sense in its current context.
8. “Look right!” (Unless you’re Welsh…)
If you’re an English speaker exclusively, the sign below may seem fairly innocuous—that is, until you realize that the Welsh version says to look left. And the sign is for a a one-way street.
Via Cycling Wales
7. “Do not disturb. Tiny grass is dreaming.”
Need we say more? This sign’s meaning is essentially, “Keep off the grass,” but the mistranslated version is a little more poetic.
6. “Paul is dead”
Not exactly the message you want to find at the hotel buffet. This phonetically translates to “meat ball,” but the intended message didn’t quite make it into the final translation.
Via The Sun
5. “Racist park”
Unfortunately, this name probably doesn’t draw the tourists they were expecting.
4. “Bathroom soup”
While the original Arabic meaning for the sign below isn’t clear, it’s possible the item on the menu is a meat soup, since the word for “bathroom” is similar to the word for “pigeon.”
At any rate, English speakers probably won’t be purchasing the bathroom soup anytime soon.
3. “Eating carpet strictly prohibited”
Airports have a number of unusual safety rules. In case you were wondering about snacking on the carpet, now you know.
2. “Paradise & Hell are in you”
While this intimidating line sounds like a psychological thriller quote, it’s simply the “thrill” of poor translation.
Via Funny or Die
1. “Could not connect to translator service”
The original text of the sign below has clearly been misrepresented—just another reason to find a trustworthy translation service.
As our world continues to connect, we’re in constant need of quality translators and language services. That’s why companies like Wordbee are continuously working to find new ways to communicate globally.
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