Speaking two languages is not quite the same as being able to translate or interpret something from one language to another. You must be careful about the way sentences are formed and have enough knowledge and experience to avoid common mistakes.

If you have been to a conference in another language, you will realize that it’s not easy to keep up in real time. A professional conference interpreting service can come in handy.

Sometimes, translation and interpretation mistakes may just be funny. But other times they can influence major historical or business conflicts. This is why hiring professional translation and interpretation services is crucial. Here are some of the most controversial translations accidents we have come across.

History

Horned Moses

Due to a bad translation of the Old Testament, poor Moses ended up with horns on his head. St. Jerome made a mistake and translated the Hebrew word “keren” as “horned” instead of “radiance”. As such, Moses was depicted with horns for centuries.

Maybe that wouldn’t be so bad if it hasn’t led to the forming of an offensive stereotype about the horned Jew.

Hiroshima Bombing

The U.S. government issued the Potsdam Declaration in 1945 and demanded Japan’s surrender. Unfortunately, its prime minister responded by using the word “mokusatsu”.
What he meant by this is: “No comment. We are still thinking about it.”. Unfortunately, his words were interpreted incorrectly.
The sentence was translated as “We ignore with contempt”, which resulted in the atom bomb to be dropped on Hiroshima a few days later.

Jimmy Carter

Jimmy Carter embarrassed himself in Poland, thanks to the poor interpretation skills of his interpreter.
In his speech, he declared that “he left the United States, never to return” and that “he was happy to grasp at Poland’s private parts”.

Middle East

When Mahmoud Ahmadinejad gave his speech in 2006 his words were translated as he wished for Israel to be wiped off the map.
What he meant to say is “the regime occupying Jerusalem must vanish from the page of time”.

Air Canada Flight

In 1983, an Air Canada plane had to make an emergency landing because it had ran out of fuel. As it turned out, the staff was confused about pounds and kilograms.
This resulted in a miscalculation about the amount of fuel plain needed for the flight.

Funny

Welsh Sign

In 2008, there was a very funny mix-up when a “No entry” sign was translated to Welsh in Swansea.
The sign said: “I am not in the office at the moment, please send all work to be translated”. Amazingly, no one noticed that this was actually an auto response from the translator.

Chicken Man

American “chicken-man” decided to branch out to the Mexican market. He developed a serious marketing campaign and placed billboards all over the country. Too bad he didn’t hire a professional translator.
His picture with one of his birds was everywhere and the slogan was: “It takes a hard man to make a chicken aroused”.

Health

Poisoned 71 mil

A man named Ramirez was admitted to a hospital in Florida in a very bad state. He was poisoned and needed an emergency treatment from the hospital staff.
Unfortunately, in a hurry to save his life, they made a crucial error in translation. They mistakenly traded the Spanish word “intoxicado” with an English word “intoxicated”.
They then treated the poor man as if he was suffering from an intentional drug overdose.
The man has survived but was left a quadriplegic. He sued the hospital and received a malpractice settlement of $71 million.

Radiation France

On the other side of Europe, seven cancer patients died from excessive exposure to radiation. Believe it or not, the booklets that contained instructions in French were translated all wrong. No one noticed the mistake until it was too late.
Because of the poor translation, the doses of radiations were miscalculated. The patients were unintentionally over-exposed.

Business

HSBC

“Assume nothing” was the HSBC bank’s catchphrase that got mistranslated in 2009 as “Do nothing”.
The bank certainly had to do something about it. It spent another $10 million to repair the damage by launching a rebranding campaign.

KFC

Instead of “Finger-lickin’ good”, KFC ended up with a misfortune slogan in Chinese that said “ Eat your fingers off”.

Pepsi

“Come alive with Pepsi” was so poorly translated in Chinese. The slogan ended up claiming it can literally raise you from the dead.

Electrolux

Swedish Electrolux launched an American advertising campaign. It had the following slogan: “Nothing sucks like an Electrolux”.

Parker Pen

Ballpoint pen that Parker produces is known not to make any leaks. The manufacturer wanted to point that out in a Mexico advertising campaign, but ended up with a terrible slogan.

Instead of making a statement on how it will not leak in your pocket and embarrass you, the message was: “It won’t leak in your pocket and make you pregnant”.

For a more interesting depiction of these translation and intepretation errors, check out our infographic below!

Translation and Interpretaion Mistakes with Huge Consequences - Lighthouse Translations - Infographic

Translation Mistakes with Huge Consequences – Infographic

Share this Image On Your Site

Lighthouse Translations is a company with 100% customer satisfaction. Join thousands today!

British Victoria

British Victoria
Victoria, Kolumbia Brytyjska, Kanada
Direction

Portland

Portland
Portland, Oregon, Stany Zjednoczone
Direction

Denver

Denver
Denver, Kolorado, Stany Zjednoczone
Direction

Scottsdale

Scottsdale
Scottsdale, Arizona, Stany Zjednoczone
Direction

Charleston

Charleston
Charleston, Karolina Południowa, Stany Zjednoczone
Direction

San Diego

San Diego
San Diego, Kalifornia, Stany Zjednoczone
Direction

Puerto Plata

Puerto Plata
Puerto Plata 57000, Dominikana
Direction

Mexico

Mexico
Meksyk
Direction

Jamaica

Jamaica
Jamajka
Direction

Tegucigalpa

Tegucigalpa
Tegucigalpa, Honduras
Direction

Leon

Leon
León, Nikaragua
Direction

Managua

Managua
Managua, Nikaragua
Direction

Quito

Quito
Quito, Ekwador
Direction

Lima

Lima
Lima, Peru
Direction

La Paz

La Paz
La Paz, Boliwia
Direction

Santa Cruz

Santa Cruz
Santa Cruz de la Sierra, Boliwia
Direction

Buenos Aires

Buenos Aires
Buenos Aires, Argentyna
Direction

Alexandria

Alexandria
Alexandria, Wirginia, Stany Zjednoczone
Direction

Atlanta

Atlanta
Atlanta, Georgia, Stany Zjednoczone
Direction

Aruba

Aruba
Aruba
Direction

Bahamas

Bahamas
Bahamy
Direction

Baltimore

Baltimore
Baltimore, Maryland, Stany Zjednoczone
Direction

Barbados

Barbados
Barbados
Direction

Bogota

Bogota
Bogota, Kolumbia
Direction

Boston

Boston
Boston, Massachusetts, Stany Zjednoczone
Direction

British Virgin Islands

British Virgin Islands
Brytyjskie Wyspy Dziewicze
Direction

Cartagena

Cartagena
Kartagena, Cartagena Province, Bolívar, Kolumbia
Direction

Curacao

Curacao
Curaçao
Direction

Dallas

Dallas
Dallas, Teksas, Stany Zjednoczone
Direction

Fort Lauderdale

Fort Lauderdale
Fort Lauderdale, Floryda, Stany Zjednoczone
Direction

Grand Cayman

Grand Cayman
Wielki Kajman, Kajmany
Direction

Houston

Houston
Houston, Teksas, Stany Zjednoczone
Direction

Kingston Jamaica

Kingston Jamaica
Kingston, Jamajka
Direction

Las Vegas

Las Vegas
3921 E Sunset Rd A0189, Las Vegas, NV 89120, Stany Zjednoczone
Direction

Los Angeles

Los Angeles
Los Angeles, Kalifornia, Stany Zjednoczone
Direction

Martinique

Martinique
Martynika
Direction

Miami

Miami
Miami International Business Center, 3399 NW 72nd Ave Suite 209-A, Miami, FL 33122, Stany Zjednoczone
Direction

Minneapolis

Minneapolis
Minneapolis, Minnesota, Stany Zjednoczone
Direction

Montego Bay

Montego Bay
Montego Bay, Jamajka
Direction

Naples Florida

Naples Florida
Naples, Floryda, Stany Zjednoczone
Direction

New Orleans

New Orleans
Nowy Orlean, Luizjana, Stany Zjednoczone
Direction

New York

New York
Nowy Jork, Stany Zjednoczone
Direction

Orlando

Orlando
Orlando, Floryda, Stany Zjednoczone
Direction

Panama

Panama
Panama
Direction

Philadelphia

Philadelphia
Filadelfia, Pensylwania, Stany Zjednoczone
Direction

Phoenix

Phoenix
Phoenix, Arizona, Stany Zjednoczone
Direction

Puerto Rico

Puerto Rico
70 Cll San Martin, Guaynabo, 00966, Portoryko
Direction

Punta Cana

Punta Cana
Punta Cana, Dominikana
Direction

Saint Maarten

Saint Maarten
Sint Maarten
Direction

St. Thomas

St. Thomas
Saint Thomas, St Thomas 00802, Wyspy Dziewicze
Direction

San Antonio

San Antonio
San Antonio, Teksas, Stany Zjednoczone
Direction

San Francisco

San Francisco
San Francisco, Kalifornia, Stany Zjednoczone
Direction

San Jose

San Jose
San Jose, Kalifornia, Stany Zjednoczone
Direction

Santo Domingo

Santo Domingo
Santo Domingo, Dominikana
Direction

San Juan

San Juan
San Juan, Portoryko
Direction

Sao Paulo

Sao Paulo
Sao Paulo, São Paulo, Brazylia
Direction

Tampa

Tampa
Tampa, Floryda, Stany Zjednoczone
Direction

Trenton

Trenton
Trenton, New Jersey, Stany Zjednoczone
Direction

Trinidad and Tobago

Trinidad and Tobago
Trynidad i Tobago
Direction

Washington DC

Washington DC
Waszyngton, Dystrykt Kolumbii, Stany Zjednoczone
Direction