Tuesday, February 02, 2010

Worst. Translation. Ever.

Photographed on Feb 1, 2010, in the Jerusalem, Mamilla neighborhood, near the Jaffa Gate.


As a noun, מעבר (pronounced, ma'avar) means passageway (which is what the sign means to say, a passageway for the disabled)

As an adverb, (pronounced, may'ayver) it means beyond. "Beyond Disabled" is an accurate depiction of the Jerusalem Municipality sign translator.

This is definitely one of the worst Hebrew/English sign translations I've seen since the נתב"ג sign on road 40 was translated as "NATBAG".

נתב"ג is an abbreviation for "נמל תעופה בן-גוריון" -- Ben Gurion Airport. Writing "NATBAG" on a sign means absolutely nothing to a non-Hebrew speaker.

hat-tip: SA.

N.B. Benji at WhatwarZone got the picture a few days before me. drat!

(but that was rather Israeli of me to use "N.B."...)

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26 comments:

yaak said...

Of course, it's telling you that if you're just simply disabled, you should tough it out and take the stairs anyways, but those who are "beyond disabled" can use the ramp.

I can't believe you didn't understand this! :-)

Critically Observant Jew said...

Reminded me of the Beyond Teshuva blog

avi said...

This is exactly what you get when you put מעבר לנכים into the Google translator.

http://translate.google.com/#iw|en|%D7%9E%D7%A2%D7%91%D7%A8%20%D7%9C%D7%A0%D7%9B%D7%99%D7%9D

So while our municipality workers might be illiterate in English, at least they apparently know how to use a computer.

Shmilda said...

This is what they call Chinglish.

Anonymous said...

Very funny. But please insert the missing Nun in Ben-Gurion. Thanks!

The back of the hill said...

Internet translators are just loads of fun.

"Four outbursts and there are seven years, our propuseram of parents to the new nation in this continent: the considered (the considered) in the freedom and in the dedicated to the offer, that all men that exports even created became.
"


http://atthebackofthehill.blogspot.com/2005/12/gettysburg-address.html

Clickably: Gettabress

We should all speak so well.

Steg (dos iz nit der šteg) said...

my brother just took a picture of a sign by the border crossing in Eilat that translates מעבר as "throufare" (sic)

RaggedyMom said...

Awesome example. When I was a linguistics major in college, the profs would ask us to take pictures of things like this!

David said...

This has the fingerprints of blind use of google (or other automatic) translation. My wife recently saw a very amusing clear example of this first hand when she sent an email to a tourist site in Jerusalem asking (in English) for information. The answer was very clearly an automated translation which made no sense until you tried to translate it back to Hebrew.
Google translate is a real timesaver for someone who already knows both languages - and knows enough to fix up the amusing mistakes. It could be a disaster otherwise.

Lurker said...

avi: This is exactly what you get when you put מעבר לנכים into the Google translator.

That got me curious what would be produced if I introduced Arabic into the equation. So I used Google to translate "‫‏מעבר‬ נכים" into Arabic ("بعد تعطيل"), and from there into English. This produced the following:

"After you disable"

Stacy aka Fahiima said...

These translators are so dangerous. I will use it occasionally, but only to get Hebrew font for copy/paste. My Hebrew is good enough that I realize when it has butchered it.

D.C. said...

Below are some actual quotes from Google's English translation of the takanon of my shul. 5 points to whomever can guess the original Hebrew phrases (some are harder than others)...


"A small team has not yet reached the age of Sorrow can be used"

"Public prayer at the beginning of the set by saying that the termination order of the victims"

"Arabic weekdays"

"Since most multi-settlement gain compliance prayer finished, the audience will say Cantor 'can'"

"...if one of the Torah called Four Horsemen (NIS, remember, a cow, month)"

"Return of a Torah public minister 'Psalm of David Give her a violent people.'"

"Bar Mitzvah boy who made the vomit to get rid of it"

"When the winner of Saturday Seven mutters softly to get rid of the book of Isaiah"

"Toward Armageddon begin saying Selichot on Saturday night after midnight."

"They say another prayer breakfast by Sefaradic Ashkenazim."

"Arabic - does not say 'and compassionate' in front of his knee. Christmas Prayer tone..."

"A blast hang these blasts just mumps"

Jameel @ The Muqata said...

ערבית בימי חול

לפני הימים נוראים, אומרים סליחות במוצ"ש לפני

D.C. said...

10 points for Jameel.

(But those were the easy ones...) :-)

D.C. said...

The selichot one is actually "לקראת יום הדין..."

When I first tried this a few months ago, it actually said "Toward Doomsday."

Mrs. S. said...

ארבע פרשיות (שקלים, זכור, פרה החודש)

alex said...

"Bar Mitzvah boy who made the vomit to get rid of it" heh.

נער בר מצווה אשר בקיא בהפטרה

Also "to get rid of the the book of Isaiah" is הפטרה מישעיהו.

Age of sorrow =גיל צעיר בכתיב חסר? Order of the victims = סדר קורבנות.
Before his knee = לפני ברכו

People who find this amusing (like myself) should visit this site -
http://translationparty.com/
You put in a phrase and it translates it into Japanese then back into English and keeps going until it finds equilibrium.

The back of the hill said...

Thank you for that marvelous link, Alex. That more or less is what I did with the Gettysburg address using Babble fish a few years ago.
It's barrels of good clean fun.

[Great link, thank you Alex. More or less, fight, fish, I will run a few years ago. Clean Fun is a good barrel.]
Equilibrium found!

David said...

Return of a Torah public minister Psalm of David Give her a violent people
בהחזרת התורה יאמר החזן הבו לד' בני אלים

David said...

When the winner of Saturday Seven mutters softly to get rid of the book of Isaiah
העולה בשבת שבע ברכות יפטיר בספר ישעיהו

D.C. said...

More points for Mrs. S, Alex, and David.

You got the right idea, but not exactly the words that would explain the English translation.

"Public minister" is "שר הציבור" (the congregation sings).

"The winner of Saturday Seven" is "חתן בשבת שבע." (Thus "winner," as in "חתן פרס ישראל").

My favorite one, hands down, is "Bar Mitzvah boy who made the vomit to get rid of it" (Alex figured out correctly what it was actually talking about). While it is true that some bar mitzvah boys are rather nervous, I wouldn't think that it's so common for the nervousness to express itself in this particular way that we have to have a rule about who cleans up!

yaak said...

See this brand new post from Elder of Ziyon. I'm embarrassed to say that I cracked up when reading the autotranslation.

alex said...

D.C. - what about - "A blast hang these blasts just mumps"

I spent way too much time trying to figure this one out and still don't have a clue.

D.C. said...

"(בעל) התקיעה יתקע תקיעות אלו רק בחזרת (הש"ץ)"

And while we're at it, here's one more bizarre one:

"Responsibility of all pray to the buffalo in the synagogue"

Kamagra said...

I cannot believe this translation, is the worst that i have seen in my life, i think that people must do good translation for foreign people, specially in English.

Shlomo said...

DC - Very amusing. I think part of the problem is that "frum" Hebrew uses expressions that are not part of "normal" Hebrew. And since Hebrew has no vowels and so on, it is easy for one word to be mistaken for another.

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