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Lost in Translationments

For the last little while I've been buried under mountains of brochures and pamphlets about Finland - many in Finnish, some in Swedish and others in Russian. A few have been in Finnglish, a study in what happens when you 'mostly translate'. It's an easy gag to make fun of poor translation, but why put out a brochure where the meaning is confused?

Here's a few of my favourite translations from the Finnish research:
- "Room for everyone even for your complete family!"
Really? It makes them sound like a collectors set.
- "Our beach bulks with water sports facilities"
Reminds me of the Victorian expression 'bulk ace'.
-"We build up a personalized historical adventure-happening for your crew and your customers according to Your wishes."
Wow My historical advenure-happening will totally impress my crew.
-"Versatile and high-qualitymusic festival"
This is a straight cut and paste from a steak knife ad. also the joinging of words is SoFinnish.
-"There are mostly cultural World Heritages in Europe while there are mostly natural World Heritages on the southern hemisphere."
I love the uncertainty of 'mostly'. It's like saying we don't really know but this 'mostly' makes sense.
-"A DJ raises gang roof of the stocks and the use of loudspeakers during the refrain is futile!"
It's also futile to try and understand the meaning of this Google-translated piece.
And the absolute favourite:
-'Fishing is a peculiar medicine for those, whose nerves city life frays. Of course, it is expedient to take this “depressant” in the open air. Forest quiet and blue smooth surface of water and infrequent popples of waves calm. After such rest any family drama, monotone work and its difficulty are not frighten.'
We can learn so much from this. Firstly fishing is a depressant and also that work can be monotone. It's almost a poem.

It's not just Finns who do the odd quick translation. In fact a Finn, recently spotted a menu where several dishes were too tricky to explain in another language. Wikipedia to the rescue with several dishes being named after the online encyclopedia. And my other favourite is the Chinese restaurant that plugged it's name into an online translator which promptly spat out some characters that looked 'mostly' right. Before anyone can check, you've got your signage made that gives your restaurant the name: Translate server error. If it isn't Photoshopped, this could become quite a tourist attraction.


  1. great post George! cheers for my laugh-out-loud for today - or should that be giggle whileworking?


  2. They're right, fishing really is a depressant, especially when the fish come away more well fed than the angler!

  3. There is that ols quote about a jerk on the end of the line that's always kept me away from the rod. Fish comes in cans these days. Good to hear from you though and safe journey.


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