Category Archives: Mistranslations

Odd Jobs #8: Hippotherapists to Spatial Designers

The next line-up of odd jobs begins with one that can lead to all kinds of interpretations; no, it’s not therapy for hippos, nor is it accusing hippos of being convicted criminals (break it down…)!  It is in fact a specialised form of therapy for humans involving horses.

There are a few on this list that sound on the surface like cushy jobs; but as with all careers, they have their downsides too, I’m sure:  It’s just creepy to hire someone else to lie down in your hotel bed to warm it up for you, but someone’s got to earn money; and how’d you like to live in a spotless mansion as a living mannequin… never to feel at home, and forced to leave at the drop of a hat?  Being an ice cream taster doesn’t sound bad on a hot day, but 60 kinds a day, every day, without swallowing?  No, thanks!  I’d rather enjoy mine one flavour at a time, or three.

Odd Job - Iceberg Mover

Iceberg Mover.  Original photo source, unknown (if known, please let me know!)

  • Hippotherapist
  • Horse Rider / Exerciser
  • Horticultural Therapist
  • Hot Dog Vendor
  • Human Bed-Warmer (UK): Some hotels offer a service to clients, in which a willing staffer dresses in an all-in-one fleece jumpsuit, and lays in the bed to warm it before the guest arrives.
  • Human Bullet Impact Tester
  • Human Prop: Hired to live in for-sale luxury homes at dirt cheap prices; but of course, there’s a catch – the house must always be in squeaky clean, in case it gets purchased, and they have to be ready to move out immediately. According to real estate companies, houses sell better when they’re being lived in; the props lend an unmistakable energy to an otherwise empty home.
  • Human Scarecrow (UK) – A variation is that of a human scarecrow for airports – Officially, you’d be called a “specialist for biological aviation safety.”
  • Iceberg Mover: Became a profession after the disastrous sinking of the Titanic in 1912. The International Ice Patrol (IIP), which was founded a year later, is operated by the US Coast Guard and tracks the location of icebergs and provides safe routes around them. If necessary, the iceberg will be towed out of the area.
  • Ice Cream Taster (Food Scientist)
  • IMAX Screen Cleaner
  • Interior / Spatial Designer

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Filed under Lists, Mistranslations, Research

Lost in Translation: Camel Balls Gum

Today’s product is sold in the UK, among other places (e.g. Amazon).  In and of itself, it may not be lost in translation so much as a marketing gimmick, but I came across an article of the UK’s Mirror titled, “Bubblegum called Camel Balls sold to girl, 7, gives mum the hump”.  Their choice of that last word in this particular context is unfortunate, given its connotations in some English dialects…

 

LIT - Camel Balls Gum

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Filed under Humor, Images, Mistranslations

Just for Fun

Vegetarian, Bad Hunter

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May 11, 2016 · 9:44 PM

Anonymously Bad Grammar 2

Found perchance online, I thought I’d share this with you.  For those of you who, like me, cringe at bad grammar and spelling, you’ve just been duly forewarned.

In (one hopes purely sarcastic) response to the following information:  “Terms for being admitted to Harvard in the 17th century (around the age of 15 or 16): ‘Whoever shall be able to read Cicero, or any other such-like classical author at sight, and correctly, and without assistance to speak and write Latin both in prose and verse, and to inflect exactly the paradigms of Greek nouns and verbs, has a right to expect to be admitted into the college, and no one may claim admission without these qualifications.'”

“Hay, i took a fence @ that! i thinking hour educations more better then ever!”

 

 

Psychotherapist

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Filed under Humor, Mistranslations

Lost in Translation: Pepsi

In 1963, Pepsi launched the “Come Alive!  You’re in the Pepsi Generation!” campaign.  All well and good until they took it to China, where the slogan translated as “Pepsi – Bring Your Ancestors Back from the Dead”.

Needless to say, it was a short-lived campaign, despite its claim to resurrect Grandpa.

LIT - Pepsi, Come Alive with the Pepsi Generation, 1963

 

LIT - Pepsi, Chinese of Come Alive with the Pepsi Generation, 1963

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Filed under Humor, Images, Mistranslations, Signs

Lost in Translation: Bird Crap

I don’t know if this would really qualify as being “lost in translation” as it is the original English name of the product, and it is intentional; it may just fall under the category of marketing flops or faux pas.  But either way, the last thing I want going through my mind as I take a bite of a nicely grilled burger is this brand name…

LIT - Bird Crap Seasoning

Here’s a close-up of the label:

LIT - Bird Crap Seasoning Label

Ya never know – it might sell quite well, just as a marketing gag (no pun intended – well, maybe it was)…

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Filed under Humor, Images, Mistranslations

Lost in Translation: Fart

Keeping on with the disgusting theme of my last post, I thought I’d share a whiff of Polish with you:  In Poland, where this candy bar is marketed, the name translates to something like Lucky Streak and the word orzechowy means nutty.  It does not help to think of it as a nutty lucky streak with the name association in English, especially with an elephant as the logo…

In Polish, where this candy bar is made, the name translates to -lucky bar

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Filed under Humor, Mistranslations, Signs, Translations

Lost in Translation: Barf

In Iran, where this laundry detergent is produced, the name means “snow”.  For obvious reasons I don’t think they should try to break into the English market…

In Iran, where this detergent is manufactured, that word means -snow

For other ads lost in translation, click here.

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Ye Olde Spelling Laziness

runesymbols

Have you ever wondered about the old-fashioned “ye” in shop signs?  It was a lazy printer’s solution to saving space for “th”, and should be pronounced as “the”, not “yee”!  The Old English character “y” was a graphic alteration of the Germanic rune “Þ” (which came over with the Viking raiders and the Norman King Canute and his rabble, but that’s another story).  When English printing typefaces couldn’t supply the right kind of “P” they substituted the “Y” (close enough, right?).  That practice continued into the 18th century, when it dropped out of use.  By the 19th century it was revived as a deliberate antiquarianism – to give a shop a pedigree, so to speak (read “marketing scam”), and soon came to be mocked because of it.  And now we think of it as the quaint way they used to write…

For a short, fun video on the topic, click on Ye Olde Web link, below.

ye-olde-web-link

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Filed under History, Humor, Mistranslations, Nuts & Bolts, Translations

Toe the Line vs. Tow the Line

Toe the LineRecently I used the title’s idiom, and to be honest I don’t know if I’d ever used it before in writing; I’ve heard it said onk-times, but never had much use for it so far in written form.  Then came the question, is it “toe” or “tow”?  Actually the original phrase is nautical; but that could still be either spelling.  I did a bit of research, in both etymology dictionaries and a book of naval slang, online and in my library.  The consensus, I present here.

“Toe the line,”  according to Naval History & Heritage, comes from the practice of waterproofing between deck boards with a layer of oakum, pitch and tar, thus creating a striped deck; when the crew was ordered to fall in at quarters they would line up at their designated area of the deck, toes to the line to ensure a neat line for inspection.  Toeing the line was also used as a form of punishment for lighter misdemeanours aboard a ship, such as younger crew members talking at the wrong time; they were made to stand at the line for a specified amount of time to remind them to behave.  A logical leap later and we have our idiom, because the young lads were warned to “toe the line” – they were to mentally toe the line to avoid getting in trouble.

Tow the LineHowever, “Tow the line” could be seen as a malapropism, a mondegreen, or an eggcorn.  A malapropism (also called Dogberryism) is the substitution of an inappropriate word or expression in place of the correct and similarly-sounding word.  Example:  “Officer Dogberry said, “Our watch, sir, have indeed comprehended two auspicious persons” (apprehended two suspicious persons).  A mondegreen is an error arising from  understanding a spoken word or song text incorrectly.  Example:  “The ants are my friends, blowin’ in the wind” (the answer my friends) – Bob Dylan.  An eggcorn is an idiosyncratic (but semantically motivated) substitution of a word or phrase for a word or phrase that sound identical, or nearly so, at least in the dialect the speaker uses.  Example:  “for all intensive purposes” instead of “for all intents and purposes”.  Depending on your view of things, “tow the line could fall into any of those categories.  But it has so often been misused that it has begun to develop its own connotation independent of the original idiom:  While “toe the line” indicates a passive agreement or adherence to a particular regulation or ideology, “tow the line” implies more of an active participation in the enforcement or propagation of that “line” whether political, social, or business policy, as towing an object is not passive, but participative.

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Filed under Articles, History, Mistranslations, Nuts & Bolts, Research