Over at David Nessle‘s, his witty readers are discussing translations — more particularly, bad translations. I collect crap translations from English to Swedish, so I decided to offer some to you, Dear Reader. To make this palatable to non-Swedish-speakers, I’ll add a second step to explain what the Swedish mistranslation means literally in each case.
Close Encounters of the Third Kind. Main character drives around on a rainy night looking for a place called Cornflower. Meeting someone, he asks for directions, but the other guy just drives off and our hero yells an insult after him.
“Excuse me — is this the way to Cornflower? … Turkey!”
Ursäkta, var ligger Cornflower? I Turkiet?
“Excuse me, where is Cornflower? In Turkey?”
Thriller novel about crazy man who takes a hostage and barricades himself with a bomb in Central Park. (Don’t remember title, please help.)
“He was very proud of his small arms.”
Han var mycket stolt över sina små armar.
“He was very proud of his small upper extremities.”
“Tanks were assembling in nearby streets.”
Tankbilar samlades på gatorna runt omkring.
“Tank trucks were assembling in nearby streets.”
“He stopped dead.”
Han stoppade döden.
“He stopped death.”
“We’ve got to do something about that flat [tyre].”
Vi måste göra något åt den där lägenheten.
“We’ve got to do something about that apartment.”
Finally, a tale told by my good friend Ylva about one of her first translation jobs, taken on while she was still in high school. (She later went on to become one of Sweden’s best and most prolific translators of speculative fiction.) Teen Ylva calls her mother, a teacher, and says, on the verge of tears, “Oh Mom, I just can’t figure this out! It says here that the hero is wearing a piece of cod!”