Charlie Croker’s Lost in Translation. Misadventures in English Abroad is a new discovery for me (UK, Michael O’Mara Books, 2006). It was followed by Still More … in 2008 AND, apparently, a new collection is due on 1 October 2015: Utterly Lost in Translation: Even More Misadventures in English Abroad. London: Metro Books.
Over a few decades I have come across many Translation howlers involving English abroad (and at home!) and have seen many more on the Internet, and in friends’ emails, but for me this little volume is the fullest and the FUNNIEST.
Laughs are guaranteed in Croker’s editions, especially since his avid readers feed him with their own widely-based travel discoveries. Here is a selection of short examples from his original edition to whet your appetite and leave you marvelling at the infinite possibilities – including perhaps the potential for deliberately composing eye-catching “howlers” in order to attract the attention of foreign visitors and shoppers – or Internet celebrity. In other words, the possible use of deliberate translation errors as an income or ego boost! Most of these specimens selected from Croker’s book seem quite unconscious, but are there any which you feel may not be spontaneous? A closer examination of the book (or the forthcoming edition), which contains pages of longer examples, may reveal other suspects to the professional eye.
France, metal detector scanner: People with peace-maker do not pass.
Bucharest: The lift is being fixed for the next day. During that time we regret that you will be unbearable.
Korea: Choose twin bed or marriage size; we regret no King Kong size.
Indonesia: Someday laundry service.
Taipei: If there is anything we can do to assist and help you, please do not contact us.
Sri Lanka: Please do not bathe outside the bathtub.
Vietnam: Toilet was cleaned and spayed.
Thailand: Please do not bring solicitors into your room.
Brazil: Visit the hairdresser in the Sub Soil of this Hotel.
London: All fire extinguishers must be examined at least five days before any fire.
French Riviera car event: Competitors will defile themselves on the promenade at 11 a.m., and each car will have 2 drivers who will relieve themselves at each other’s convenience.
Japan, on van: Brain Location Service.
Japan, on medicine bottle: Adults: 1 tablet 3 times a day until passing away.
Japan: Buttered saucepans and fried hormones.
India: Children soup
Macao: Utmost of chicken fried in bother.
Thailand: Chicken gordon blue, pork shops, eggs scrambling.
Egypt: Muscles of marine / Lobster thermos.
Hong Kong: (in cheese list): Roguefart
Signs and instructions:
London: Open 24 hours except 2 a.m. – 8 a.m.
India: Seven days a week and weekends too.
Chinese exercise balls: Instructions: Three types of ball are offered. They are one. two. three.
Kolkata, on fire extinguisher: Cease Fire.
Barcelona Travel agency: Go away.
Mexican disco: Members and non-members only.
Israeli butcher’s shop: I slaughter myself twice daily.
Shanghai Museum: Be careful to butt head on wall.
Chinese Temple: Please take one step forward and crap twice.
Surely you must have laughed out loud at SOME of those!
If so, why not indulge yourself further by buying Charlie Croker’s new collection in October!
Thanks, Charlie. I can’t wait.