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Hilarious Translation Fails

Hilarious Translation Fails
Hilarious Translation Fails

Written by Henry Mcdowell, follow him on Twitter.

In translation history, there were numerous failures producing a humorous effect. Words can often have more than one meaning or produce new meanings in combination. Their incorrect reading can lead to the corruption of the original message. It also happens that in literature or movies some names of characters or places sound nice in one language but have an absolutely different meaning in another. Missing such details is the most often reason for translation fails.

There are thousands funny translation fails that will make you roll on the floor laughing, here are some of them:

  • No Need to Watch

In China the title of the Academy Awards nominee, The Sixth Sense movie was translated as “He is a Ghost!” which is an awful spoiler of the entire plot. Why would one need to watch a thriller knowing the truth in advance?

No Need to Watch

  • Please Don’t Eat the Carpet

In one of the airports in India, there was a sign saying “Eating Carpet Strictly Prohibited”. Probably it asked people not to eat anything on the carpet to keep it cleaner from food stains but something went wrong during translation.

Please Don’t Eat the Carpet

  • Violators Welcome

One of the swimming pools when translating a sign has accidentally lost the word “not” in it. So it ended up saying “Anyone obeying the swimming pool regulations may be required to leave”.

Violators Welcome

  • 101 Cold Nose

The beloved Disney movie One hundred and One Dalmatians in Spanish somehow got the title “The Night of the Cold Noses”. How did they translate The Day After Tomorrow then?

101 Cold Nose

  • Hello, Sailor!

In one of the Spanish restaurants, there is a special dish with seafood translated as “Rape the Sailor”. Hopefully, it does not involve assaulting anyone, but the name sounds extremely intriguing.

Hello, Sailor!


Read also: Is it necessary to ask Latin translators for help?


  • Deadly Dairy

In one of the markets, the incorrect translation made a sort of cheese very unattractive. It was translated from Arabian as “Syrian Paralysis Cheese”. Most likely it was not very popular among English-speaking tourists.

Deadly Dairy

  • Sexy Dirty Dances

In France, the Step Up movie series is translated as “Sexy Dance”. Well, indeed, they feature hot dancing but the same is true about the Dirty Dances movies. What is the difference then?

Sexy Dirty Dances

  • Exclusive Thang

English pronunciation and spelling can sometimes be tricky. It is the reason why a sign in Russian prohibiting entrance for visitors ended up as “Stuff Only”.

Exclusive Thang

  • Is it about Alien?

Marvel superhero movie Guardians of the Galaxy is translated in China as “Interplanetary Unusual Attacking Team” which would probably be more suitable for some action-thriller about the invasion of some extraterrestrial creatures.

Is it about Alien

  • No Drama

In some sacred places like Sistine Chapel, it is prohibited to speak loudly. And of course, there are signs on the entrance stating this. However, one sign in Spanish was accidentally translated as “Do Not Cry”. No photo, no video, no food, and no tears on the site.

No Drama

  • OK, I won’t

Due to a serious translation mistake, one sign asked people “Please don’t throw toiled in the WC”. Probably that was a rule everyone obeyed. Or maybe there were cases?

OK I won’t

  • Houston, We've Got a Problem

True, pistachio nuts are sometimes hard to crack. However, it is still not clear why in one shop they were translated into English as “Nuts Problem”. Well, those pistachios must have been really tough stuff.

Houston We've Got a Problem

Read also: The best way to find professional marketing translation services for business needs.

  • Back off, Satan!

In Chinese the title of G.I Jane movie is translated “Satan Female Soldier” although it is pretty far from any religious rites. This name sounds more suitable for a movie like Exorcist or Dracula.

G.I Jane

  • This Was the Last Time

Leaning against a fence in a zoo can sometimes be dangerous either for visitors or for animals. But in one zoo a sign warning against it due to incorrect translation actually says “Do Not Lean Again”. Well, hopefully, they forgive it the first time.

Do Not Lean Again

  • Just Do It

Automatic devices in public WC can sometimes puzzle those who are unfamiliar with how they work. So there are always signs with explanations. On one of them the instructions translated are pretty straightforward – “Just bring your hands”.

Just bring your hands

Challenges of Translation and Localization

While it is often hard to translate and localize the titles of movies it is also often extremely challenging to localize video games, translate names of brands. While in some languages names of brands are associated with positive attributes of the product, in others they have negative connotations. For example, Puffs tissues by Procter & Gamble were launched in European countries without the consideration that the word “Puff” in German means a “brothel”. The company should have chosen an accurate German translator more thoroughly. Another such situation caused financial losses for Ford Motor Company. They could not understand why sales of Ford Pinto in Brazil were so low although the car in the US was distinguished. The true reason was far from any technical characteristics or design – the word “pinto” in Brazilian Portuguese translates as a slang word for small male genitals. So Ford paid its price for not hiring a translator.

Useful information: Before ordering a translation read accurate reviews at Translation Report to prevent any hilarious translation mistakes.


Challenges of Translation and Localization

Many of the fails mentioned above were not due to inattentiveness but because of trusting machine translation which often works very badly especially with short phrases. Sometimes it can make an expression absolutely incomprehensible and for a person who uses it but does not speak the target language, it will not be obvious. A quality translation can only be done by top translation companies with professional translator whose mastery level of both languages allows him/her to avoid any kinds of “nuts problem” or the like. Professionals “do not lean again”, “do not cry”, and “do not throw toilet in the WC” while always providing good “stuff only”.