Saturday, 19th June 2021

This Month's Magazine
Lost in the translation

Lost in the translation

The small German town of Homberg-an-der-Efze, north of Frankfurt, had to pulp an entire print run of its English-language tourism brochure, after officials used an Internet translating tool to translate the German text.

According to one report, the brochure was "rendered meaningless" by the online tool. Tourists were promised "casual value", the literal translation of the German word for "leisure potential", at venues such as the "free bath" - better known as an "open-air swimming pool".
The mayor admits that the town made a "blunder" as a result of officials trying to save money by getting the internet to do a translator's job, a total of 7500 brochures had to be binned.

This story highlights some of the pitfalls of translating online. There are many instant translation tools on the web - but they are best used for individual words and short phrases.

When the local supermarket displays strange, often hilarious, notices in English or other languages one s and thinks no more of it. However, when a business does so with its sales literature, brochures and other image building material it simply demonstrates the shallowness of the management's mind. It certainly does not inspire confidence to do business with a company that 'skimps' on paying for a proper translation or, even worse, does not really care about its own image to foreign clients, showing complete lack of consideration and respect towards them.
Computers do not think, that day has not yet arrived. Translating requires thinking, it requires attaching a meaning to words and, in particular, a string of words in a certain order. As long as words can have more than one meaning and until such time as computers can think and manage to understand the intended meaning of a word or sentence, it is strongly advised that, if you do not wish to be laughed at, you rely on the old-fashioned human input.


individual words or short phrases? What about these:

Paris hotel elevator
Please leave your values at the front desk
Tokyo hotel
It is forbidden to steal hotel towels please. If you are not a person to do such a thing is please not read this notice
Bucharest hotel
The list is being fixed for the next day. During this time you will be unbearable. 
Belgrade 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 then going alphabetically in national order.
Athens hotel
Visitors are expected to complain at the office between the hours of 9 and 11am daily.
Sarajevo hotel
The flattening of underwear with pleasure is the job of the chambermaid
Japanese hotel
You are invited to take advantage of the chambermaid
Moscow hotel
You are welcome to visit the cemetery where famous Russian and Soviet composers, artists and writers are buried daily except Thursday
Swiss menu
Our wines leave you nothing to hope for
Hong Kong tailors shop
Ladies may have a fit upstairs
Bangkok dry cleaners
Drop your trousers here for best results
Paris dress shop
Dresses for street walking
Rhodes tailor shop
Order your summer suit. Because is big rush we will execute customers in strict rotation.
Hong Kong advert
Teeth extracted by the latest Methodists
Rome laundry
Ladies, leave your clothes here and spend the afternoon having a good time
Swiss mountain inn
Special today... no ice cream
Moscow hotel
If this is your first visit to the USSR, you are welcome to it
Norwegian lounge
Ladies are requested not to have children in the bar
Acapulco hotel
The manager has personally passed all the water served here
From a brochure of a car rental firm in Tokyo
When passenger of foot heave in sight, tootle the horn. Trumpet him melodiously at first, but if he still obstacles your passage, then tootle him with vigor.
On the menu of a Polish hotel
Salad a firm's own make; limpid red beet soup with cheesy dumplings in the form of a finger; roasted duck let loose; beef rashers beaten up in the country people's fashion.
From the Soviet Weekly
There will be a Moscow Exhibition of Arts by 15,000 Soviet Republic painters and sculptors. These were executed over the past two years.
In a Vienna hotel
In case of fire, do your best to alarm the hotel porter.
In the window of a Swedish furrier
Fur coats made for ladies from their own skin.

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