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Translators’ Hall of Shame: Part V
December 21, 2016 - By: - In: In the News / Awards - Comments Off on Translators’ Hall of Shame: Part V

Another roundup of bad translations just in time for the holidays.

Instead of easy Xmas chimney access, bad translations add fuel to the fire scorching Santa’s… well, you get the idea. Here are three recent examples.

We Were Attacked?!?

When it comes to war, who attacked who and where are darn important.

Recently, Turks were shocked to learn about a Syrian Army assault on Turkish positions, according to the Russian foreign minister. The information reported in the press came from a meeting between the Russian and Turkish foreign ministers.

However, that’s apparently not what the Russian foreign minister said. Due to a Turkish translation error, he actually said the opposite: he said that Turkish positions have not been attacked by Russia or Syria. Bad translators make fake news.

Luckily, representatives of Turkey’s foreign ministry have confirmed the translation error.

At least no one got killed, but go tell that to the Syrians.

Hindi Cuss Word Took on New Meaning

Since India’s Partition in 1947, Hindu-Muslim relations haven’t been very good. Now, Facebook contributes.

Facebook’s Hindi speakers were not pleased to see that the expletive “Madarchod” (meaning “motherfucker”) was translated into English on the social media site as “Muslim.”

Many social media users complained about the translation. As a result, Facebook claimed the translation was the product of a “bug” in their automated system and proceeded to change the English translation to the more inoffensive word “idiot.” That’s not very funny.

US Election Woes

Just when you thought the US’ 2016 election results couldn’t have been any more contentious, did you know that Washington state had a pre-election problem of its own?

There the Spanish-language voter guide was mailed out with an incorrect translation. As a result, some people may have been led to believe that they weren’t eligible to vote.

After being threatened with a lawsuit, Washington’s Secretary of State Kim Wyman agreed to send out 136,000 letters to Spanish-speaking homes informing them of the error. Not sure to what effect.

World Peace?

Tensions seem to be running high this year. However, I guarantee you that good translations with adequate quality assurance are mostly on the side of world peace. Fingers crossed. Maybe next year.

If you’re ready to talk good translations and peace of mind, please get in touch at 212-355-4455 ext 208 or

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