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Translation or transliteration?

A friend of mine recently traveled to Beijing and brought back a copy of the hotel’s rack brochure, the contents of which are reprinted below. As you can probably guess by the title, a lazy translation from Mandarin to English can create some very embarrassing moments. These sorts of conversions are usually the result of relying wholly on a computer program to do the work of a far more expensive native speaker.

Well, native speakers still have the edge on translator programs. I’ll protect the property name so you do not feel compelled to visit its English website, which happens to be equally hilarious. Enjoy!

Getting there

Our representative will make you wait at the airport. The bus to the hotel runs along the lakeshore. Soon you will feel pleasure in passing water. You will know that you are getting near the hotel, because you will go round the bend. The manager will await you in the entrance hall. He always tries to have intercourse with all new guests.

The hotel

This is a family hotel, so children are very welcome. We of course are always pleased to accept adultery. Highly skilled nurses are available in the evenings to put down your children. Guests are invited to conjugate in the bar and expose themselves to others. But please note that ladies are not allowed to have babies in the bar. We organize social games, so no guest is ever left alone to play with them self.

The restaurant

Our menus have been carefully chosen to be ordinary and unexciting. At dinner, our quartet will circulate from table to table, and fiddle with you.

Your room

Every room has excellent facilities for your private parts. In winter, every room is on heat. Each room has a balcony offering views of outstanding obscenity! You will not be disturbed by traffic noise, since the road between the hotel and the lake is used only by pederasts.

Your bed

Your bed has been made in accordance with local tradition. If you have any other ideas please ring for the chambermaid. Please take advantage of her. She will be very pleased to squash your shirts, blouses and underwear. If asked, she will also squeeze your trousers.

Above all

When you leave us at the end of your holiday, you will have no hope. You will struggle to forget it.

A few things to take away from this. First, English, like most other popular languages spoken on this vast blue orb, is complex and rife with idiosyncrasies. Moreover, for some bizarre reason, nearly any common phrase in English can be misconstrued as a sexual innuendo or closely resemble a vulgar word. For those of us with a sense of humor, we know what’s going on, but it still gives the hotel a slightly incompetent image, or at least one where English isn’t a priority.

This is a double-edged sword though. If your native language is English, don’t depend on computer translations for other languages, as similar mishaps and misinterpretations will result. I’m certain that automated software will catch up and be able to do this for us on the cheap in the future. But for now, do yourself a favor and please use a professional. Yes, it may cost a lot, but, as witnessed above, it will save you from severe embarrassment.

(Article published by Larry Mogelonsky in HOTELSmag on August 16, 2013)

Larry MogelonskyTranslation or transliteration?