You probably know the computer expression, “Garbage In, Garbage Out”. In other words, if your input is terrible, your output will be too.
The same is true with language and translations: If your original sentences are unclear, the translations will be worse. Fortunately, these marvelous statements below were not submitted to us for conversion into other languages. Instead, these statements were written in English by people who were, shall we say, slightly unclear on the concept. And most would be equally as humorous in any of the 80 languages we translate, interpret and localize.
We are delighted to present them to you as a year-end holiday gift and to brighten up your day.
First, however, we start with some interesting questions….
FOLLIES OF ENGLISH
- Why is the word “abbreviation” so long?
- Do cemetery workers prefer the graveyard shift?
- Why in English is the word bra singular but panties is plural?
- Why do newscasters report power outages on TV?
- Can fat people go skinny-dipping?
- If US cops arrest a mime, do they tell him that he has the right to remain silent?
ACTUAL MEDICAL RECORD QUOTATIONS dictated by US physicians:
“The patient refused an autopsy.”
“The patient has no past history of suicides.”
“She slipped on the ice and apparently her legs went in separate directions in early December.”
“Patient has chest pain if she lies on her left side for over a year.”
“The patient left his white blood cells at another hospital.”
“On the second day the knee was better and on the third day it had completely disappeared.”
“The patient has been depressed ever since she began seeing me in 1983.”
ACTUAL ACCIDENT EXPLANATIONS to AUTO INSURANCE COMPANIES
“I thought my window was down but I found out it was up when I put my head through it.”
“I had been driving for 40 years when I fell asleep at the wheel and had an accident.”
“An invisible car came out of nowhere, struck my car and vanished.”
“No one was to blame for the accident but it never would have happened if the other driver had been alert.”
“The pedestrian had no idea in which direction to run so I ran over him.”
“The car in front hit the pedestrian, but he got up so I hit him again.”
“I didn’t think the speed limit applied after midnight.”
“I pulled away from the side of the road, glanced at my mother-in-law and headed over the embankment.”
MISUSED METAPHORS from HIGH-SCHOOL ESSAYS
“She had a deep, throaty, genuine laugh, like that sound a dog makes just before it throws up.”
“Her vocabulary was as bad as, like, whatever.”
“Her hair glistened in the rain like a nose hair after a sneeze.”
“Even in his last years, Granddad had a mind like a steel trap, only one that had been left out so long, it had rusted shut.”
“The plan was simple, like my brother-in-law Phil. But unlike Phil, this plan might just work.”
“The ballerina rose gracefully en Pointe and extended one slender leg behind her, just like a dog at a fire hydrant.”
If you missed our Ode to English presented last year at this time, we are pleased to share it with you again. That newsletter gave equally wonderful examples of why English often makes no sense at all…. as any foreign learner will tell you.
Fortunately, most of the technical manuals, contracts, websites, videos, brochures, instructions, presentations, etc. that we receive are written clearly and avoid any obvious miscommunication. And when we see any, our expert project managers alert you.
But rarely, and even internally, the first-step translators in our ten-step process managed to make such gems as:
- the phrase “curb appeal” of a house that was translated as “the appeal of the curb” and
- the juice-catching pad at the bottom of a package of supermarket chickens that was translated as “tampon”
…. before our second-translator — the Quality Assurance reviewer — caught and corrected them.
Whether you are a long-time client or a new prospect, we hope you appreciate that clear communications are critical to your success. We greatly appreciate your relying on us to make you shine in any language.
With gratitude for your continued support and best wishes for Happy Holidays!