Every translator, linguist, language lover and grammar nazi has been there. Wherever we travel, our eyes are checking everything around us for grammar and translation mistakes.
The following mistranslations are some of the most ‘famous’ ones, they can be found in many webpages online. I won’t talk about the importance of professional translation services to avoid such (sometimes grave) mistakes, I’ll just let you enjoy the hilarious translation blunders.
Restaurants & menus
Restaurant window: Don’t stand there and be hungry. Come on in and get fed up.
On the menu of a Swiss restaurant: Our wines leave you nothing to hope for.
In a Tokyo bar: Special cocktails for the ladies with nuts.
In a Norwegian cocktail lounge: Ladies are requested not to have children in the bar.
In a Nairobi restaurant: Customers who find our waitresses rude ought to see the manager.
In a New Zealand restaurant: Open seven days a week, and weekends too.
A menu in Vienna: Fried milk, children sandwiches, roast cattle and boiled sheep.
At a Korean restaurant in Auckland, New Zealand: We do not re-use the food.
Newspapers & magazines
In an East African newspaper: A new swimming pool is rapidly taking shape since the contractors have thrown in the bulk of their workers.
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.
Airplanes & airports
Instructions on a Korean flight: Upon arrival at Kimpo and Kimahie Airport, please wear your clothes
Aeroflot advert: Introducing wide boiled aircraft for your comfort
In a Copenhagen airline ticket office: We take your bags and send them in all directions.
On an airsickness bag on a Spanish aeroplane: Bags to be use in case of sickness or to gather remains.
In a Hong Kong supermarket: For your convenience, we recommend courteous, efficient self-service.
Outside a Hong Kong tailor shop: Ladies may have a fit upstairs.
In a Bangkok dry cleaner’s: Drop your trousers here for best results.
Outside a Paris dress shop: Dresses for street walking.
In a Rhodes tailor shop: Order your summers suit. Because is big rush we will execute customers in strict rotation.
In the window of a Swedish furrier: Fur coats made for ladies from their own skin.
In a Tokyo shop: Our nylons cost more than common, but you’ll find they are best in the long run.
Cars & road signs
A sign on a car in Manila, Philippines: Car and owner for sale.
A sign at a vehicle repair shop in Bali Indonesia: Cat Oven.
On a highway sign in Australia: Take notice: when this sign is under water; this road is impassable.
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.
Detour sign in Kyushu, Japan: Stop: Drive Sideways.
In an advertisement by a Hong Kong dentist: Teeth extracted by the latest Methodists.
Doctor’s office, Rome: Specialist in women and other diseases.
On a South African building: Mental health prevention centre.
Sign at Mexican disco: Members and non-members only.
A sign posted in Germany’s Black Forest: It is strictly forbidden on our black forest camping site that people of different sex, for instance, men and women, live together in one tent unless they are married with each other for that purpose.
A laundry in Rome: Ladies, leave your clothes here and spend the afternoon having a good time.
In a Czechoslovakian tourist agency: Take one of our horse-driven city tours — we guarantee no miscarriages.
Advertisement for donkey rides in Thailand: Would you like to ride on your own ass?
Sign over the information booth in a Beijing railroad station: Question authority
In an Italian cemetery: Persons are prohibited from picking flowers from any but their own graves.
On the faucet in a Finnish washroom: To stop the drip, turn cock to right.
In a Bangkok temple: It is forbidden to enter a woman even a foreigner if dressed as a man.
Instructions for a soap bubble gun: While solution is not toxic it will not make child edible.
At a Budapest zoo: Please do not feed the animals. If you have any suitable food, give it to the guard on duty.
A barbershop in Zanzibar, Tanzania: Gentlemen’s throats cut with nice sharp razors.
Funny mistranslations in hotels
Check out the French translation of this post in Lisa Guay’s translation blog