Archive for the ‘hot bloopers’ Category

Chickentranslate: The Hottest Blooper

Friday, June 2nd, 2006

When asked about the most popular or most favorite Turkish to English translation blooper, perhaps all translators would mention “chicken translate” as their all-time favorite. It is so popular that it became a real “classic” in translation bloopers. It had some media coverage too. Feature writers wrote about it, newspapers published it, and it is included in most of the web pages on translation bloopers. Even, there is a Yahoo group with that name. I myself registered a domain both with net and com versions for it: chickentranslate dot com and dot net (now expired, unfortunately due to lack of time to dedicate to that domain). Then, what is this chickentranslate?


rotisserie on charcoal

The Message

Now, let us see the picture of the medium for the message hung over a busy street to attract the attention of foreigners:


Turkish chicken translatel The Medium

Be it a small local restaurant, or a multinational giant corporation, being seen and heard is crucial for any business.

A busy street in a Turkish town. A local restaurant owner, being aware of the importance of visibility, hung this banner to attract foreign tourists to his restaurant serving, as the ads says, chicken translate (“rotisserie”) on charcoal to its customers. An exquisite taste if you are not a vegetarian! If only you could get the message.

“Çevirme” in Turkish means, inter alia, to translate, turn, rotate, etc. As a noun, it means rotisserie , or barbeque within the context of cooking, i.e., the name is derived from the technique.
It seems that our lay translator, perhaps the restaurant owner himself, picked up a dictionary, found the first English word for “çevirme,” and translated accordingly.

Having thus English version as well, the owner now can be sure that the message would be received by his potential foreign customers!

He has the medium, but unfortunately lacks the message!

Goods Containing Water are Aquatic Products!

Tuesday, May 30th, 2006

As I wrote in my last post, I am working on a voluminous translation project about Turkish legislation on EHS. The direction is from English to Turkish, and sometimes, I find it difficult to grasp the meaning of certain sentences, expressions, and terms. And after some back-and-forth, the true meaning occurs to me like an “Aha” insight!

Just a moment ago, I was trying to translate a certain sentence explaininig the aim of Turkish Law No 1380 on Aquatic Products. The sentence reads: [the Law] delineates the water quality standards for goods containing water.” It was like a difficult riddle at first. Simply, I felt that it is incomprehensible or I am lacking something critical.

Ant after a while, it came like a revelation that the expression goods containing water should in fact be aquatic products! Yes, the Law in question regulates the water quality requirements for aquatic products. I now understand that the source document is in fact a translation from Turkish.

That is to say, I am translating a document from English to Turkish which is itself a translation from Turkish to English! A backtranslation! Having noted this funny blooper, now I can return to work.

Stimulated Expert

Friday, October 21st, 2005

Sometimes, we receive translation bloopers from our foreign colleagues. A Spanish translator at an international support forum asked us if we can help her understand an English expression translated from Turkish. She was probably required to translate an English document to Spanish that in turn previously translated from Turkish.

The sentence read:

The expert is sworn in, his stimulation is done.

The asker said that ’stimulation’ does not make sense to her. And she was right. But she provided no further clues as to the type of document, so we are required to play a “hit and miss” game. And since swearing by an expert is concerned, I suggested that it should be a document related to some legal proceedings.

In certain lawsuits, the Court appoints an expert, or a board of experts in complicated cases, for examining some technicalities of the case. The expert, after conducting a study, submits an Expert Opinion to the Court. But before this submission, the Expert swears before the court, and the Judge forewarns him about his legal responsibilities.

“Uyarmak” or “uyarılmak” in Turkish means, inter alia, “to stimulate, warn,” or “to be stimulated or warned.” It is used in contemporary Turkish as a synonym for “İkaz” or “tahrik.” The former (ikaz) can be translated as “alarm or warning,” and latter can be translated as “drive, stimulation, provocation, arousal” etc. Unfortunately, the two words merged into a single word in contemporary Turkish language (“uyarım, uyarı”) that easily leads to such mistranslations.

It seems that our fellow translator took a dictionary, found the verb “uyarmak,” and picked up its first meaning in English (to stimulate). Hence, the expert’s stimulation is done!

Poor Expert! Or should we say, The Lucky Expert?

If you reached this blooper while searching a Turkish translator, please go to my Translation homepage.

Spasm Solvents

Wednesday, October 19th, 2005

Yesterday, a colleague at a professional support forum asked fellow colleagues to suggest English translations for some medical terms in Turkish. He was translating some text on a certain herbal (Valeriana officinalis). He said that he is sure about the translation of certain terms to English, and listed them. Among others, he was sure that “spazm çözücü” is “spasm solvent” in English.

All of his suggestions were far from being correct, but this one was a good candidate for a medical blooper, and also a good support for my contention that back translation is not a measure of quality of the original translation, even for the technical documents!

The correct English term is “antispasmodic.” And “spasm solvent” is utterly meaningless. But, to my surprise, I noticed that there are others who also translated “spazm çözücü” as “spasm solvent.” A Turkish herbal site selling herbal products contains more than one instance of “spasm solvent.” Unfortunately, their English page has gone, as it seems, but its cache is still there, at least as of today. www.isikbaharat.com/inglzurunlerimiz.htm

I found cache of another site that mentions “spasm solvent,” but it too seems unavailable: www.abailac.net/en/ms1.asp

By the way, when we back translate our blooper into Turkish, we get the perfectly meaningful Turkish version: “spazm çözücü.” This is just one example supporting the assertion that back translation is not a good measure of the original translation. A translation can be utterly meaningless, and yet yield a perfectly matched original when back translated.

If you find this page while searching for a Turkish language translator, please go to my English Turkish translation homepage.

IV Administration

Wednesday, October 19th, 2005

Recently, I was reviewing a manual (Instructions for Use) for a certain medical device translated from English to Turkish. There were many mistranslations that can be considered as bloopers. But one of them was especially a good blooper indeed.

There was a subsection titled “IV Administration” translated to Turkish as “IV Yönetimi.” It struck me since “iv yönetimi” is totally nonsense within the particular context. I checked it against English version, and smiled. Perhaps, a machine translation would be better!
Administration” can be translated into Turkish, among others, as “yönetim” (management). But within medical context, it simply means “introduction of fluids (medications, nutrients, etc.) directly into a vein.” 
Our blooper backtranslates into English as “intravenous management.” More sensible than its Turkish version!
Medical translation is a rich source of bloopers, and I am sure that I will add more medical bloopers in my “Hot Bloopers” section.
If you reached this page while searching a Turkish translator, please go to my Turkish Language Translation homepage.