Funny mistranslations/Lustige Übersetzungsfehler

Ist es wirklich sinnvoll für einen Übersetzer, lustige Fehlübersetzungen auf der Homepage zu veröffentlichen? U. a. hat es die Wirkung, dass der Leser Übersetzung mit Fehlern assoziiert. Oft liest man immer wieder dieselben Beispiele, die manchmal erfunden sind.

Dann gibt es Geschichten über Fehler in der Werbung, z.B. soll es einen Chevy Nova gegeben haben, aber no va bedeutet auf Spanisch “fährt nicht”. Die Geschichte stimmt aber nicht.

Some translators like to post a list of amusing bad translations on their websites. Sometimes these are lists that are passed round in email and on the Internet and aren’t even genuine. Then you show that you did not have the energy to make your own collection, and you also encourage the reader to associate translation with errors.

There was an apocryphal story, a kind of urban legend, that a car called Chevy Nova had its name changed for Spanish-speaking countries because no va means ‘it doesn’t work’.

However, other stories are true. There was a full-page Air France ad in a British paper a few years ago with the slogan ‘Air France wants you to fly united’. I am ashamed to say I haven’t got the details, but I remember a number of people mentioning it at the time. And Des reports in a Smörgåspost (first item) of a Honda near-miss in Scandinavia in 2001, with what later became the Honda Jazz:

bq. Honda was all set to lauch a marque of car with the jolly name of “Fitta” globally, until they were alerted that “global” includes Scandiwegia, and that that name might have certain issues in the ‘Wegian market: “fitta”, in Swedish, corresponds very exactly to the literal (anatomical) meaning of the Engleesh ‘c’-word (albeit without the connotational baggage – ‘Wegian swearing is organised otherwisely).

This could at least be traceable.

Some stories are collected here. A level higher is a linguistic fun page with good links. Looking at the top page, I wonder if deep linking wasn’t enough.

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