Losing Something in Translation...
Monday, 09 June 1997
This is a copy of an article written by Derek Davies about signs in
foreign countires that have been mistranslated. I saw this one
a couple years ago and deleted it. This time I kept it.
Want more? Christopher Gait maintains the Howlers
page which is full of mistranslations professional translators
have seen. Unfortunately, many of them require you to understand one
or more of the languages involved. Still, there is much funniness
- In a Bucharest hotel lobby:
- The lift is being fixed for the day. During that time we regret
that you will be unbearable.
- In a Leipzig elevator:
- Do not enter the lift backwards, and only when lit up.
- In a Belgrade elevator:
- To move the cabin, push button for wishing floor. If the cabin
should enter more persons, each one should press a number of
wishing floor. Driving is then going alphabetically by
- In a Paris hotel elevator:
- Please leave your values at the front desk.
- In a hotel in Athens:
- Visitors are expected to complain at the office between the
hours of 9&11 am daily.
- In a Yugoslavian hotel:
- The flattening of underwear with pleasure is the job of the
- In the lobby of a Moscow hotel across from a Russian orthodox
- You are welcome to visit the cemetary where famous Russian
and Soviet composers, artists, and writers are buried daily
- In an Austrian hotel for skiers:
- Not to perambulate the corridors in the hours of repose in the
boots of ascension.
- On a menu in a Swiss restaurant:
- Our wines leave you nothing to hope for.
- On a menu of a Polish hotel:
- Salad a firm's own make; limpid red beer soup with cheesy
dumplings in the form of a finger; roasted duck let loose; beef
rashers beaten up in the country people's fashion.
- In a Hong Kong supermarket:
- For your convenience we recommend coourteous, effecient
- In a Bangkok cleaners:
- Drop your trousers here for best results.
- In a Paris dress shop:
- Dresses for street walking.
- In a Hong Kong dress shop:
- Order your summers suit. Because is big rush we will execute
customers in strict rotation.
- From the Soviet weekly:
- There will be a Moscow Exhibition of the Arts by 15,000 Soviet
Republic painters and sculptors. These were executed over the
past two years.
- In an East African newspaper:
- A new swimming pool is rapidly taking shape since the
contractors have thrown in the bulk of their workers.
- In a Vienna hotel:
- In case of fire, do your utmost to alarm the porter.
- In Germany's Black Forest:
- It is strickly forbidden on our Black Forest camping site that
people of different sex, for instance, men & women, live
together in one tent unless they are married for that purpose.
- An ad by a Hong Kong dentist:
- Teeth extracted by the latest Methodists.
- A Russian chess book:
- A lot of water has been passed under the bridge since this
variation has been played.
- In a Rome laundry:
- Ladies, leave your clothes here & spend the afternoon
having a good time.
- In a Czech tourist agency:
- Take one of our horse driven tours---we guarantee no miscarriages.
- Ad for donkey rides in Thailand:
- Would you like to ride your own ass?
- On a faucet in a Finnish restroom:
- To stop the drip, turn cock to right.
- In the window of a Swedish furrier:
- Fur coats made for the ladies from their own skin.
- On a box of a clockwork toy in Hong Kong:
- Guaranteed to work throughout its useful life.
- Detour sign in Kyushi, Japan:
- Stop---Drive sideways.
- Swiss mountain inn:
- Special today--no ice cream.
- Bangkok temple:
- It is forbidden to enter a woman even a foreigner if dressed
like a man.
- Tokyo bar:
- Special cocktail for the ladies with nuts.
- Copenhagen airline ticket office:
- We take your bags and send them in all directions.
- Moscow hotel room:
- If this is your first visit to the USSR, you are welcome to it.
- Norwegian cocktail lounge:
- Ladies are requested not to have children in the bar.
- Budapest zoo:
- Please do not feed the animals. If you have any suitable food,
give it to the guard on duty.
- Office of a Roman doctor:
- Specialist in women and other diseases.
- Acapulco hotel:
- The manager has personally passed all the water served here.
- Tokyo shop:
- Our nylons cost more than common, but you'll find that they are
best in the long run.
- Japanese instructions on an air conditioner:
- Cooles & Heates: If you want just condition of warm in your
room, please control yourself.
- Car rental brochure in Tokyo:
- When passenger of foot heave in sight, tootle the horn.
Trumpet him melodiously at first, but if he still obstacles
your passage then tootle him with vigor.
- Two signs from a Majorcan shop entrance:
- English well talking;
Here speeching American.
- On the box of a Vietnamese laughing tip-toy:
- Can't invert with laugh
The laugh begin. you are youthful
As poke as shaky as shaky as laugh
During the use. open the lid of top and take two cells (NO. 5)
in the box. If you want to stop laugh or don't use for a long
time. you must take out the cells (This seller have no
- A sign on the lion cage at a zoo in the Czech Republic:
- No smoothen the lion
- A Finnish hotel's instructions in case of fire:
- If you are unable to leave your room, expose yourself in the
- A notice in a Japanese hotel (ca. 1950):
- Please not to steal towels. If you are not person to do such,
please not to read notice.