Tag Archives: Translation Mistakes

US imports

I’m not sure if it can be categorized as a translation mistake because it looks like the name of this shop was decided upon in English.

Nail salons are relatively few and far between in Berlin; they appear to be an import from the US hence the name:  “The Nails of American” or just “The Nails” for short.


Freitag Fun: two words…good by

Lots of people think they don’t need to hire a translator because they learned English at school.

Lots of people thing they can save money on a professional translator if it is only a short text.

Lots of people think that English is easy.

For those people I only have two words…’good by’.

This sign hangs above the door at a hotel in Hamburg, Germany (spotted November 2008).


God save the queen – Gott speichert die Königin ?

While most people, or at least translators, seem to agree that translation software is no replacement for a professional, human translation, I have often heard the opinion that a program like Google Translate is good for getting a basic understanding of subject matter if only for personal use. But it looks like translation software can muddle even the shortest of phrases and names making comprehensibility impossible. For instance:

God save the queen – Gott speichert die Königin

Buckingham Palace – Kompensationsschinkenpalast

Hamlet – Dörfchen

Downing Street – Niederwerfende Straße

These are just a few of the hilarious examples in Ute Brammertz’s book ‘God save the Queen – God speichert die Königin’. Ute Brammertz is a writer, editor and translator from Munich now living in Oxford. She has compiled a list of German-English translations found on the internet. The list turned into a small book with German language commentary, which I can recommend for any German – English translator’s entertainment.

Hillary Clinton Gets it Wrong

Another translation fiasco and this one reflects poorly on the entire American government body. You would think that the American government would be able to find at least one qualified, English – Russian, professional translator to handle the one-word translation necessary for Secretary of State Hillary Clinton to make a statement with a bit of humor while visiting the Russian Foreign Minister, Sergey V. Lavrov. She was after a laugh and a laugh is what she got, but it probably wasn’t quite what she had in mind.

The gift, a red button on a yellow base, was a play on a statement that Joseph R. Biden made calling on the two countries to “press the reset button” on their relationship. Clinton presented the “reset” button to Lavov with these words: “We worked hard to get the right Russian word. Do you think we got it?” The word printed on the button read “reset” in English. The Russian word was printed below, “peregruzka.” Lavrov’s could only answer with the truth, “You got it wrong.” He went on to explain that the word “peregruzka” actually means overcharged, which gives the red button a whole new meaning.

To read the entire New York Time’s article click here.