Funny Translation Errors

Translating English to another language can create some pretty comical mistakes.  From brand name product translations to basic instructions, hotel information to restaurant slogans, these errors will have you laughing and shaking your head.

Signs and Images

Marketing, signs, and basic instructions can prove to be quite difficult and completely hilarious when translation errors are made.  Take a look at these pics for some examples:

Probably not what the folks at I Can’t Believe it’s Not Butter were intending.


hand grenade

Put out a small fire or demolish the entire building?  You decide!


Um, well… this one just speaks for itself.


let us do the birds friend

Whatever makes you happy, friend!


crap your hands

Here we have a bit of Engrish gone awry.


press for green man

Most of us press the button to cross the street.  But imagine how cool it would be if what this sign says really happened!


titti dispenser

If only it were that easy.

do not feed fishes with private

Here fishy, fishy….

Food and Restaurant Goofs

With most translation errors, problems seem to arise when words are translated too literally.  Instead of looking at the meaning and context behind the words or sayings, and finding the appropriate foreign language phrase, the words are translated literally and mistakes arise.  Check out these food and beverage goofs:

  • I’m not sure how appealing it is to “eat your fingers off”.  However, when the first Kentucky Fried Chicken opened in China, that’s exactly how the famous slogan “finger-lickin’ good” was translated.
  • When Schweppes, the makers of club sodas and tonic waters was introduced in Italy, the name “Schweppes Tonic Water” was translated into “Schweppes Toilet Water”.  Some websites report this one to just be an urban myth or spoof, who really knows for sure, but it’s funny just the same! Yikes!
  • In China, one of Pepsi’s slogans “Pepsi Brings you Back to Life”  got translated just a little to literally. Perhaps they were going for bottled fountain of youth when the slogan was translated to say “Pepsi Brings Your Ancestors Back from the Grave”.
  • Coke didn’t do much better then Pepsi in China.  They chose Chinese characters that, when spoken, sounded like Coca-Cola.  However, when translated meant “bite the wax tadpole” or “female horse stuffed with wax” depending on the particular dialect.


Hotels and Inns

Hotels and Inns seem to have their own particular problem with things getting lost in translation.  Perhaps it’s the different words to describe hotel employee jobs, or again, the quite literal translations that just don’t work.  Here are just a few hotel mistakes:


  • One Athens hotel encourages visitors to complain at the desk between the hours of 9-11am daily.
  • A Japanese hotel invites guests to take advantage of the chambermaid.  Of course we can assume that that means to use the maid service, as in asking for fresh towels, but the subtle “off” wording leaves one wondering what chambermaids are really for!
  • Another error involving the chambermaid comes from a Sarajevo hotel, letting guests know that “the flattening of underwear with pleasure is the job of the chambermaid”. Wait, they iron underwear?
  • On a sign in a hotel room in Tokyo it reads, “it is forbidden to steal hotel towels please. If you are not a person to do such a thing is please not read this notice.”


The best one of all, just sums it up beautifully…

translate server error

6 thoughts on “Funny Translation Errors

  1. Pingback: Today’s featured trainer is Katie Shipley from Babble & Speak | blog@infinitetraining

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