If you ever happen to listen to Positive 89.3 on Saturday nights, you know that Joe Polek and I often enjoy sharing humorous stories from the news between the songs that we play. If you listened last night, you would have heard us talking about a variety of mistranslations with humorous results. We got started on mistranslations because I had found a news article about a recent tourism publication from the City of Jerusalem. Boldly proclaimed on the front of the brochure were these words: “Jerusalem! There is no such city!” Tens of thousands of copies had been distributed before the mistake was realized—the correct translation? “Jerusalem--there’s no city like it!”
Some of my other favorite mistranslations include:
• A warning to motorists in Tokyo: "When a passenger of the foot heave in sight, tootle the horn. Trumpet at him melodiously at first, but if he still obstacles your passage, then tootle him with vigor."
• In a Tokyo hotel: Is forbitten to steal hotel toweles please. If you are not person to do such thing is please not to read this notice.
• In an advertisement by a Hong Kong dentist: "Teeth extracted by the latest Methodists".
• When translated into Chinese, the Kentucky Fried Chicken slogan "finger-lickin’ good" came out as "eat your fingers off".
• Denmark: in a Copenhagen airline ticket office: We take your bags and send them in all directions
• Apparently skiers (and their ski-boots) were making lots of noise after hours in this Austrian hotel, so they posted this sign: "Not to perambulate the corridors in the hours of repose in the boots of ascension.
• in a hotel in Athens: Visitors are expected to complain at the office between the hours of 9 and 11 A.M. daily
• Serbia: in a Belgrade hotel elevator: To move the cabin, push button for wishing floor. If the cabin should enter more persons, each one should press a number of wishing floor. Driving is then going alphabetically by national order.
I don’t know about you, but I think I’ll pass on that elevator—United States comes pretty late in the alphabet, so I’m not sure I’d ever get to my “wishing floor!”
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