Blind idiot translations

This one is a bit tricky, because we really have this german expression! To beat on the bush, which means, fishing for information. So, some subbers are confused with “beat AROUND the bush” and “beat ON the bush”.

LOL as I am German too …

It’s differnt to beat around/about the bush - In German is either the short form “Um den heißen Brei reden”.
(In literal English “Trying to talk while having hot porridge in your mouth.” So close to “burning one’s tongue”, if you let the crucial information out) I think the closest English form might be “to pussyfoot around”, because there is the “cat” factor in it and in the long form it is “Wie eine Katze um den heißen Brei schleichen.” So like a cat you would go around and around and around waiting for it to cool down.

The German expression “Auf den Busch klopfen.” (lit English “To beat ON the bush”), you are right so far, but the subtitler back then wrote “Auf den Busch schlagen” and that means to either “hit” or “bash” it.
So actually he or she was beating the metapher to death.


I think, that especially younger subbers have the problem, that they don’t know those expressions. And this leads to those confusions. Like “naked eyes” :slight_smile: We have the german expression “bloße Füße” which means “naked feet”. “Naked eyes” would be “mit bloßem Auge” and has the meaning of “to see something without any help” But if someone doesn’t know the expression “bloße Füße”, he would also make a wrong translation of “naked eyes”. Sticking to “naked” - in english you say “the nacked truth” but in german you say “the pure truth” - die reine Wahrheit. An american friend once told me a cute story about the truth and the lie, who went swimming together. They took off their clothes and went into the water naked. The lie was done earlier and thought that the clothes of the truth are so pretty and clean. Cleaner than her own clothes. So she stole the clothes and after the truth came back, she looked for her clothes. But refuses to dress with the dirty clothes of the lie, so she came back home nacked.


Volunteers are not the only one concerned. Viki also does it. For example when you want to write a review in French, the word “spoiler” has been translated when it shouldn’t be. The word “spoiler” is also “spoiler” in French but it has been translated as “Becquet”. 0_0

I didn’t even know what it was until I googled it. It appears that “becquet” refers to a car spoiler, it is located on the back of a vehicle and is intended to stop turbulence or drag that is created behind the vehicle.


I laughed so hard I spit out my water, thanks! :joy:


Haha that’s google translate at work :laughing: and the comical outcome is no wonder :dizzy_face:

This brings to mind a similar subject incident that created a similarly comical reaction in relation to (subtitle) translation. It happened during the broadcast of Kdrama sageuk ‘The Flower in Prison’ (2016). It was the translation (not here on Viki) of a scene where ‘muffler’ vs ‘scarf’ was used, and that had some (non-American/Western) viewers puzzled over the usage of the term ‘muffler’.

The scene took place on the Hexi/Gansu Corridor in Gansu province, China. I think it was in ep 21 of the 50-ep drama. Below is a googled image and the definition:

@glykeria Keep your water in your mouth :yum: But, you can ‘salivate’ over good-looking Go Soo or Jin Se Yeon, or the sweetness of the act, or the beauty of the scenery. :heart_eyes::laughing:


It seems all the google translations here are automobile- related. :slight_smile:


oder viellichts, “metaphor” :).

Alas, it is not merely metaphors that metaphorically are schlagen hier immer…

There is ever the tendency to throw Das Kind out with the bathwater.

bit of a blend there, as I am going to have to run back to my editing and well, if I start trying to think in German this morning completely, this may inhibit the gears shifting into hypermandarinmode. :slight_smile:

Moa Desaym

Hey, I found a gem! It’s a Korean movie on youtube

Oops. I took off the link, because I found out it was an erotic movie.


Some subbers didn’t know what “blackmailing” meant. They translated it literally into “writing black e-mails”.

That was both funny and sad. :laughing:

Besides, there are some funny german sayings that sound hilarious in english.
For example “To pull someone through the hot chocolate” means like “to pull sb.'s leg” or “There have we the salad”. This means to get into a mess.

The list could go on and on.



Should have been:


Yet, the Dutch version says: “Your scripture is hard to read, so beware.” :imp:
It may be correct Belgian Dutch though … :thinking:

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This is what I thought of it as a kid :joy::joy::rofl:

They translated the English literally and in Flemish handwriting can be translated as geschrift. But voorzichtig zijn sounds strange if it’s about the handwriting.


In The Netherlands “geschrift” usually refers to some kind of ancient text, so it seemed weird. And yes, “voorzichtig zijn” sounds weird over here as well. :slight_smile:

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I found another one:

In French, we have “Tableau de bord” twice. :expressionless:
“Leaderboard” is not correctly translated.


I don’t know if it’s the same with other languages but because English is so wide-spread, each region (or country) can have it’s own idioms and people from one region can be confused by idioms from another region. This happens in Australia between Australian states. For example: Tasmanian idioms may not be understood by people who live in Queensland; Western Australian idioms are not common in Victoria, etc.

I often find myself confused by USA idioms and USA slang when the expressions don’t exist in Australia. It’s for this reason that, when editing, I do my best to use plain English rather than idiomatic expressions. If the original language of a movie or series uses a local idiom, I prefer to use that in the sub and give a brief expression in straightforward English. I think this kind of information helps give some cultural context and promotes cultural understanding.

Here are some Australian idioms that may demonstrate what I call the “country effect”.

1. Thanks for that. Your blood is worth bottling.
2. Back in a sec. I’m just going to have a Captain Cook.
3. What can I say? He’s a few stubbies short of a six-pack.
4. You’ve got Buckley’s chance.
5. Yeah. You’re right. It’s six of one, half-a-dozen of the other.
6. Have you heard from Jacqui since she went bush?
7. Hey! Settle petal! There’s no need to spit the dummy.
8. Sorry to have to tell you this, but that’s cactus, mate.
9. Don’t worry. She’ll be apples.
10. Sorry. I’ve got to shoot through. See you tonight!
11. Don’t mind him. He’s got a few kangaroos loose in the top paddock.
12. It’s true. He’s lower than a snake’s belly.



That one is priceless!


I do my best to use plain English rather than idiomatic expressions.

The language loses a bit of magic with simplicity. I’d prefer to have the idiom and a brief explanation (e.g. beware danger). The beauty of idioms is you can create new ones constantly. As long as it’s intelligible to most people, it can stick around.

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No, it can’t. We create subtitles for an international public. They should be understandable for all English speakers (native or not and from all areas) and easy to translate into all other languages. We use explanations to explain terms from the source language, not for English idioms that we could have replaced with something everyone can undertand. If you want English idioms, go read some literature.

I think you do good. I try my best to do the same in French, even if we mostly use “French from France”, I try to not use too typical idiom when I have to or translate in plain French who can be internationally understood (as far as I know). After all, I might know some French from Quebec / Switzerland / Belgium and slang from Africa who is now used in France, I am far from knowing all the French from all over the world… I probably fail sometime (if I am in charge, DM me and tell me where you need more explanation…).