In one marketing campaign, Coors put its slogan, “Turn it loose”, into Spanish, where it was read as “Suffer from diarrhoea.”

Scandinavian vacuum manufacturer Electrolux used the following in an American campaign: “Nothing sucks like an Electrolux.”

When Gerber started selling baby food in Africa, they used the same packaging as in the U.S., with a beautiful Caucasian baby on the label. Later, they learned that in Africa, companies routinely put pictures on the label of wha…t’s inside, since most people can’t read.

  Colgate introduced a toothpaste in France called Cue, the name of a notorious porno magazine.

Pepsi’s “Come alive with the Pepsi Generation” translated into “Pepsi brings your ancestors back from the grave”, in Chinese.



“Are you going to visit Czech Republic? Then you will just need our book!”


ISBN 978-5-227-02435-0  Moscow, 2010

This book is full filled with all kinds of wrong translation. See yourselves:



Russian into English


Translation from Czech / Comments


Где ваш багаж?

Where is your luggage?

Kde je vaše zavazadla?

Here should be used pluralis: Kde jsou vaše   zavazadla?


Это наши дети

Here are our children

Je to naše děti

Right: To jsou naše děti


Не понимаю

I don’t understand Czech

Nerozumějí česky

„They don’t understand Czech“


после обеда

in the afternoon

po večeři

”after dinner”


Он сможет принять вас через час

He can meet you in one hour

Dokáže vás o hodinu   později

”He will be able you one hour later”


Пахнет бензином

It smells petrol

Je to vůně benzínu

It’s an aroma of petrol



petrol tank

benzín nádrž

Loan translation; right: benzinová nádrž



(car) body


(a person’s) body



nipple (technical term)


“nipple” (on breast)


Куда ведет эта дорога?

Where goes this road?

Kde se tato cesta vede?

“Where is this road registered?”

[Kde – asking place, kam – asking   direction]


женатый, замужем

married (man, woman)

ženatý, vzal

“married, took”


Можно принести еще вешалки?

Would it be possible to bring more coat hangers?

Můžete uvést více závěsy?

”Can you usher in more hinges?”


Что вы будете заказывать?

What will you order?

Co se vám objednat?

”What yourselves you order?”


Что вы нам порекомендуете?

What do you recommend us?

Co doporučujete   k nám?

”What do you recommend to us?”


Можно мне заменитель сахара?

May I have a sugar substitute?

Mohu mít cukr nahradit?

[English construction; noun = verb]


Вы подаете закуски?

Do you serve desserts?

Jste slouží občerstvení?

“Are you serves refreshment?”


Я бы хотел(а) позавтракать

I would like have breakfast

Rád bych(a) na snídani



Можно еще немного?

May I have a little more?

Můžete dokonce jít?

”Do you can even go?”


Можно салфетку, пожалуйста

May I have napkin/serviette, please

Můžete výpad, prosím

”Do you can sortie, please”



glass (for drinking)


”glass” (a material)





”Turkey” (a land), should be krocan


I hope you had a jolly little pleasure with these translation jewels.

I’m also sure that all the personnel in the editorial office of this wordbook was satisfied with its reward. The people responsible was:

Compiler: Irina Stanislavovna Pigelevskaya

Head Editor: T. M. Minedzhyan

Responsible for the issue: L. I. Yantseva

Art Editor: I. A. Ozerov

Editor Y. S. Vecherskaya

Proof-reader: I. S. Slavina
Computer typesetting: Y. K. Kiseleva

ЗАО Издательство Центрполиграф – Centrpoligraf

Address: 111024 Москва, 1.я ул. Энтузиастов, 15


The readers have homework to do – to guess the origin of all the different translation mistakes.  You can find more examples in the Russian and Swedish pages.


Instruction for a washing machine: Turn off your cock

Err 06
The program ready light and program end light blink
The motor has failed
Shut down your machine and unplug. Turn off your cock and apply to the nearest authorized service.

Nowadays there are mostly men who wash…


Buttom or Button?
Further would we will like to know how to translate “Down for picture setting”
(=push the down bottom in order to get the picture menu) to Portuguese


A fellow is walking down the street, when a masked gunman stops and
says:  “Hey, you!  Give me your watch!”
The fellow hands over the watch, which is a counterfeit Rolex.  The robber complains:  “What is this, a fake watch?  Son of a … give me your wallet!”
The fellow pulls out a billfold, made of plastic with an imitation leather finish, an imitation of a Pierre Cardin.
He opens it, showing 3 euro cents, a couple of bus tickets and a black and white picture.
The robber scoffs: “What the hell is this?  Your clothes are cheap, your watch is crap, you got nothing, you’re worse off than I am.  What kind of work do you do?”
The fellow answers, “I’m a translator.”
The robber responds, “Really!”  He pulls off his mask, and asks, “Me too.  Where did you go to school?”


“Do not rely on the checker completely”

I halve a spelling checker
It came with my pea sea
It plainly marks four my revue
Mistakes I dew nor sea
I’ve sent this message threw it
And I’m shore pleased to no
I’ts letter perfect in it’s weigh;
My checker tolled me sew.



A) The Japanese eat very little fat and suffer fewer heart attacks than the British or Americans

B) On the other hand, the French eat a lot of fat and also suffer fewer heart attacks than the British or Americans.

C) The Japanese drink very little red wine and suffer fewer heart attacks than the British or Americans.

D) The Italians drink excessive amounts of red wine, and also suffer fewer heart attacks than the British or Americans.

E) Conclusion: Eat & drink what you like. It’s speaking English that kills you.


While trying out a computer translator its programmers made it translate first from English to Russian and then back into English again. The idea was that if the final message was the same as the initial one, everything was fine. However, the initial input was the biblical quotation ‘The spirit is willing but the flesh is weak’, and the end result came back as ‘The vodka was great, but the steak was awful’.

Tuquan Tuquan, Dubai


En översättning från ett okänt språk till ett okänt språk:
Undervisning för flytta den ‘Servis’ tvättmaskin från den packkorg. Framför flytta tvättmaskin från den packkorg:
FÖRST: Flytta fyra skogskruva på topp från packkorg.
ANDRE: Flytta två batten fråg voren trygg vid dessa skruva den maskin kan sedan vara av beröva den från den packkorg.
VARNING NOTIS: Den utväxling på dessa ‘Servis’ elektrisk tvättmaskin. Innehålla NEJ OLJA

Piotr / Råd och rön


In a Tokyo Hotel: Is forbidden to steal hotel towels please. If you are not person to do such thing is please not to read notis.

In another Japanese hotel room: Please to bathe inside the tub.

In a Bucharest hotel lobby: The lift is being fixed for the next 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 hotel 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 national order.

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 and 11 A.M. daily.

In a Yugoslavian hotel: The flattening of underwear with pleasure is the job of the chambermaid.

In a Japanese hotel: You are invited to take advantage of the chambermaid.

In the lobby of a Moscow hotel across from a Russian Orthodox monastery: You are welcome to visit the cemetery where famous Russian and Soviet composers, artists, and writers are buried daily except Thursday.

In an Austrian hotel catering to skiers: Not to perambulate the corridors in the hours of repose in the boots of ascension.

On the menu of a Swiss restaurant: Our wines leave you nothing to hope for.

On the menu of a Polish hotel: Salad a firm’s own make; limpid red beat 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 courteous, efficient selfservice.

Outside a Hong Kong tailor shop: Ladies may have a fit upstairs.

In a Rhodes tailor shop: Order your summers suit. Because is big rush we will execute customers in strict rotation.

Similary, from a Soviet Weekly: There will be a Moscow Exibition of Aets 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 hotel porter.

A sign posted in Germany’s Black Forest: It is strictly forbidden on our black forest camping site that people of different sex, for instance, men and woman, live together in one tent unless they are married with each other for that purpose.

In a Zurich hotel: Because of the impropriety of entertaining guests of the opposite sex in the bedroom, it is suggested that the lobby be used for this purpose.

In an advertisement by a Hong Kong dentist: Teeth extracted by the latest Methodists.

A translated sentence from a Russian chess book: A lot of water has been passed under the bridge since the variation has been played.

In a Rome laundry: Ladies, leave your clothes here and spend the afternoon having a good time.

In a Czechoslovakian tourist agency: Take one of our horse-driven city tours – we guarantee no miscarriages.

Advertisement for donkey rides in Thailand: Would you like to ride on your own ass?

On the faucet in a Finnish washroom: To stop the drip, turn cock to right.

In the window of a Swedish furrier: Fur coates made for ladies from their own skin.

On the box of a clockwork toy made in Hong Kong: Guaranteed to work throughout its useful life.

Detour sign in Kyushi, Japan: Stop: Drive Sideways.

In a Swiss mountain inn: Special today – no ice cream.

In a Bangkok temple: It is forbidden to enter a woman even a foreigner if dressed as a man.

In a Tokyo bar: Special cocktails for the ladies with nuts.

In a Copenhagen airline ticket office: We take your bags and send them in all directions.

In a Norwegian cocktail lounge: Ladies are requested not to have children in the bar.

At a Budapest zoo: Please do not feed the animals. If you have any suitable food, give it to the guard on duty.

In the office of a Roman doctor: Specialist in woman and other diseases.

In an Acapulco hotel: The manager has personally passed all the water served here.

In a Tokyo shop: Our nylons cost more than common, but you’ll find they are the best in the long run.

From a Japanese information booklet about using a hotel air conditioner: Cooles and Heates: If you want just condition of warm in your room, please control yourself.

From a brochure of a car rental firm 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



The European Commission has just announced an agreement whereby English will be the official language of the EU rather than German which was the other possibility. As part of the negotiations, Her Majesty’s Government conceded that English spelling had some room for improvement and has accepted a 5 year phase-in plan that would be known as “Euro-English”.
In the first year, “s” will replace the soft “c”. Sertainly, this will make the sivil servants jump with joy. The hard “c” will be dropped in favour of the “k”. This should klear up konfusion and keyboards kan have 1 less letter.
There will be growing publik enthusiasm in the sekond year, when the troublesome “ph” will be replaced with “f”. This will make words like “fotograf” 20% shorter.
In the 3rd year, publik akseptanse of the new spelling kan be ekspekted to reach the stage where more komplikated changes are possible. Governments will enkourage the removal of double letters, which have always ben a deterent to akurate speling. Also, al wil agre that the horible mes of the silent “e”s in the language is disgraseful, and they should go away.
By the fourth year, peopl wil be reseptiv to steps such as resplasing “th” with “z” and “w” with “v”. During ze fifz year, ze unesesary “o” kan be dropd from vords kontaining “ou” and similar changes vud of kors be aplid to ozer kombinations of leters.
After zis fifz yer, ve vil hav a reli sensibl riten styl. Zer vil be no mor trubl or difikultis and evrivun vil find it ezi to understand ech ozer. Ze drem vil finali kum tru! And zen ve vil tak over ze vorld!


Take the simple word “Ghoti”. How to pronounce this? Well, as follows:

gh pronounces as in tough
o as in woman
ti as in Nation

Consequently, it should be pronounced as “Fish”!

🙂 Hans


Let’s face it:
English is a crazy language…
There is no egg in eggplant, nor ham in hamburger, neither apple nor pine in pineapple.
And while no one knows what is in a hotdog, you can be pretty sure it isn’t canine.
English muffins were not invented in England nor French fries in France.
Sweetmeats are candies, while sweetbread, which aren’t sweet are meat.
We take English for granted.
But if we explore its paradoxes, we find that quicksand can work slowly, boxing rings are square, and a guinea pig is neither from Guinea nor is it a pig.
And why is it that writers write, but fingers don’t fing, grocers don’t groce, and hammers don’t ham?
If the plural of tooth is teeth, why isn’t the plural of booth, beeth? One goose, 2 geese. So, one moose, 2 meese? Is cheese the plural of choose? One mouse, 2 mice. One louse, 2 lice. One house, 2 hice?
If teachers taught, why didn’t preachers praught?
If a vegetarian eats vegetables, what does a humanitarian eat?
Why do people recite at a play, and play at a recital?
Ship by truck or a car and send cargo by ship?
Have noses that run and feet that smell?
Park on driveways and drive on parkways?
How can a slim chance and a fat chance be the same, while a wise man and a wise guy are opposites?
How can weather be hot as Hell one day and cold as Hell another?
When a house burns up, it burns down.
You fill in a form by filling it out and an alarm clock goes off by going on.
You get in and out of a car, yet you get on and off a bus.
When the stars are out, they are visible, but when the lights are out, they are invisible.
And why, when I wind up my watch, I start it, but when I wind up this essay, I end it?

Jörgen Hansen


1) The bandage was wound around the wound.
2) The farm was used to produce produce.
3) The dump was so full that it had to refuse more refuse.
4) We must polish the Polish furniture.
5) He could lead if he would get the lead out.
6) The soldier decided to desert his dessert in the desert.
7) Since there is no time like the present, he thought it was time to present the present.
8) A bass was painted on the head of the bass drum.
9) When shot at, the dove dove into the bushes.
10) I did not object to the object.
11) The insurance was invalid for the invalid.
12) There was a row among the oarsmen about how to row.
13) They were too close to the door to close it.
14) The buck does funny things when the does are present.
15) A seamstress and a sewer fell down into a sewer line.
16) To help with planting, the farmer taught his sow to sow.
17) The wind was too strong to wind the sail.
18) After a number of injections my jaw got number.
19) Upon seeing the tear in the painting I shed a tear.
20) I had to subject the subject to a series of tests.
21) How can I intimate this to my most intimate friend?

Jörgen Hansen



Z mých záznamů recenzovaných filmových titulků:

Je to od tebe hodné.         Zemřel akorát starý.

Nestrávila jsem s ním čas.   Ponechávám můj dům k mé dceře.

Chci abys s ní strávil čas.    Byl to vždy její domov a nikdo jiný to tak neviděl.

Zněla jsi upřímná.               To jsem chtěli změnit,ale nestačili jsem to.

Na naši první miljard!

Byl na vás spravedlivý.        Chtěli jsme ti to brzeji říci.

Přizněte, že to něco znamená. Přizněte to!


While trying out a computer translator its programmers made it translate first from English to Russian and then back into English again. The idea was that if the final message was the same as the initial one, everything was fine. However, the initial input was “Out of sight, out of mind”, and the end result came back as “Invisible idiot”. I guess we don’t have to worry too much about our automatic competition, at least for the moment.

Hans B Karlsson
Karlsson &  Karlsson Media AB


These pages are still under construction. We will appreciate every contribution or suggestion for a translation or linguistic humor in English (even combined with other languages, of course).