You know, when the subbers translate English idioms literally, with hilarious results?
I’ve kept a file of the best I’ve seen in viki.
One of my favourites must be “It’s a piece of cake” (meaning it’s very easy), where two people were discussing while taking an evening walk in a small street, no pastry shops nor cakes in sight! The subber never stopped to think that speaking about a piece of cake made no sense.
Other examples which give hilarious results are:
to stand somebody up (to let him wait for you and not come), translated as making someone get up from a chair and putting him straight.
to toast (click glasses wishing for something) translated into the equivalent of grilling bread slices,
I can’t help it
But we arrested Lee In Jwa and his ring (his ring meaning his group of supporters - translated as if it were jewelry. How on earth do you arrest a ring?)
How did you get the news so quickly? - Because I am sharp-eared (can you imagine ‘sharp-eared’ translated literally in your language? She must have been thinking of Dr.Spock)
You’re pushing the envelope again. (interesting hobby here: envelope pusher. I should try it)
Did you want to blow the whistle or something?
But my very favourite must be:
Your name is Ban Poon and now you’re mine. (The person speaking was a slave-trader addressing a newly arrived slave). She translated “mine” as if it meant the underground place under a mountain where you excavate for coal or diamonds or whatever: “Now you are a mine”
I actually think that “takes the cake”
This way of literal translation has a name, it’s called “Blind idiot translation”
Actually “blind idiot” translation is another thing. It’s
The name is not intended to be an insult against the translator (although it works just as well that way), hence the quotation marks: “blind idiot” is a Recursive Translation of the old saying “out of sight, out of mind”. A computer in a lab was running a beta of some translation software package and translated “out of sight, out of mind”—meaning “if you hide something, sometimes people forget that it existed in the first place”—into Chinese and back to English, and the printout read “invisible idiot”, which mutated further into “blind idiot”.
So it usually means a back and forth translation English-other language-English by an unskilled person.
And here a hilarious example, where “You are such a nerd” is translated “You is such a papaya”
Aaaand… A Harry Potter trailer translated from English-Japanese and then back to English. The resulting English is incredible. The Warner Brothers logo became “Brother Warner”, “Dear Mr Potter” became “Dr Mr Ceramics” and “Mr LongBottom” became “Mr Long Ass”.
Please make sure the neighbours aren’t sleeping while watching this one and be sure you’ve gone to the toilet before enjoying “Harry Ceramic”.
And Bionicle 2 Legends of Metru Nui Chinese Bootleg Subtitles
This one is a pic, not a video. From Star War The Third Gathers: Backstroke of the West (if you wonder what that is, it’s Star Wars Episode III: Revenge of the Sith)
The whole movie here (it also has the normal subs below the Chinese-English ones, if you like to compare.
Here are many links to incredible subs from popular films (often by professional translators!):
If you are into anime and games, check out these fansubs too:
Feel free to share terrible translations you’ve come across!