Tribute to the Scary Translation Masters:
This comic is from Mox Blog, a freelance translator and creator of very funny translation-based comics. It needs no further explanation. We think one of the best things to come from Google Translate is the realization that you do, in fact, need a professional. We can’t yet be replaced by a machine (or a roomful of monkeys…).
Scary Problem, Easy Solution
When you get your prescription filled, you rely on the instructions on the bottle, don’t you? What if those instructions were written by some guy in the Mexican restaurant nextdoor, or an employee at the pharmacy with high school Spanish? A recent study found that this is actually the case — and with horrific results. A few of the frightening findings:
- Boca (mouth) translated to poca (little)
- Once (once in English) is the same as once (eleven in Spanish).
- Important parts of the prescription are left out – “take with food” for example.
From Arika Okrent’s article in Mental Floss, which in turn was based on Nataly Kelly and Jost Zetzsche’s recent book Found in Translation, we have a truly horrific mistranslation: A man was taken, comatose, to a Florida hospital. His concerned relatives tried to explain that he was “intoxicated”. Unfortunately, “intoxicated” in Spanish means something more similar to “poisoned” than the English connotation of “inebriated”. The doctors went with the idea that the man had overdosed on drugs and missed that, in fact, he was suffering from a brain aneurism. He ended up a quadriplegic and received a $71 million settlement.
We have to admit that we’re a bit confused at the idea of just using the relative’s diagnosis at face value, but that’s most likely where the settlement came from.
Google Translate — From Scary to Scary-Cool
Sometimes Google Translate doesn’t so much scare us as make us cringe a little. All in good fun. When you just need to “get by” in a language, for example, when you’re travelling abroad and need to find a nearby restaurant, Google Translate can work great, especially for more common languages.
Ever-researching, ever creating new ways to play with language, Google Translate now offers “on the fly” translation of your chats in Google Talk. According to Make Use Of, you can install the bot to Google Talk and “Voila” you have simultaneous translation of your chats. Not perfect, but when imperfect is good enough, why not?