Loses Something In The Interpretation #socs

Fair warning: I’m working on my Kindle Fire, so things might look a tad strange. Plus, since I’m on the Fire, I’m going to use Markdown to write this.

Remember when Jimmy Carter went to Poland years ago (sometime in the late Seventies)? During a speech, his interpreter translated something like “I like the Polish people” into “I lust for Polish women.” I’m not sure if that was exactly the story, but you get the idea.

Ever look at a page in a foreign language after it’s been through Google Translate, and think “what are they talking about?” Admittedly, it does a pretty good job most of the time, but it’s limited to just converting the words and maybe getting them in the right order, but it’s a literal translation, with no attempt at recognizing idioms. If you try communicating with another person who speaks the language, it can cause problems.

And then there’s always something like this…

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Author: John Holton

I'm a writer and blogger who writes and blogs about things that interest me.

24 thoughts on “Loses Something In The Interpretation #socs”

  1. In Aix-en-Provence I wouldn’t give any francs to a begging university student. When I heard him mutter, “Salopard…” I said loudly, “Quoi? (What?)”

    The guy had just called me a b^$#€£d. He said nothing and kept on walking.

    So watch your tongue – people may actually understand your foreign language.

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    1. I was working in Colombia about 30 years ago, and the woman I worked with and I were meeting with her manager. I knew enough Spanish to understand when she was telling him “he says it’s white whenever I say it’s black,” and called her on it. She turned about five shades of red….

      Like

    2. This reminds me of a salon visit where the ladies gossiped on top of my hair in French not knowing that I understand, read, write and speak impeccable French. I gave them a tongue lashing they won’t forget in a hurry 🙂

      Let me invite you to my blog party going on right now. If you find the time, you are welcome to join the networking. Regards.

      Liked by 1 person

  2. Outside of French, my foreign language skills are just enough to sound like an idiot who’s tryin really hard. Mercy upon me, it makes me much more sympathetic to non-English speakers.

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    1. I worked as a supervisor years ago, and had three Mexican guys working for me, so I tried to learn some Spanish, only to discover that one of the guys was from the country, where they didn’t speak Spanish, either (it was an Indian dialect that borrowed some words from Spanish), and that the other two guys spoke English better than I spoke Spanish. We got on fine.

      Liked by 1 person

  3. Yes, those that assume one doesn’t know their language need to be careful about what they say. Of course, we should do the same. Love the RCA commercial.

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    1. I love those old commercials, too. Especially the part where they try to show you good the color is on the new set. If you’re watching in black & white (as many people did back when that was a new commercial), what difference does it make?

      Liked by 1 person

          1. I hope everyone will recognise the opening of Pride & Prejudice…
            “It is a truth universally acknowledged, that a single man in possession of a good fortune, must be in want of a wife.”

            I translated into Ukrainian, then Finnish and back to English… (Not as funny as I thought, but still…)
            “It is generally accepted that a person who is in possession of me must be without his wife.”

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  4. I just love Monty Python and the cop running all that way by just hearing the punch made me laugh never mind the hilarious translation exchange. I used to write letter, when I was young, to my grandparents and my aunt and uncle. They spoke German and I knew a little German but not much and I was only 12 or something like that. They had a good laugh because I wanted to write that kids were bugging me but I wrote tha I had bedbugs! They really love doing my letters

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