Translation can be a tricky business. All it takes is one misplaced word, sometimes just a single misplaced letter, to twist your intended meaning into something completely different. The results can  be hysterically funny, as seen in the many collections of hilarious translation fails found around the web.

Read on for ten of our favorites.

#1 Paul is Dead

Paul is dead

Rest in Peace, Paul.  Now, what exactly are those meatballs made of? 

This image was originally shared on Twitter by Hend Amry, who explained “The Arabic spells out a transliteration of ‘meat ball’ in English – which sounds like ‘mayit baul’, or Dead Paul.” 

#2 The elevator is broken

The elevator is broken

So broken. And so is this translation.

#3 I guess you could call it that…

praying to the porcelain god

It seems like someone took the euphemism “praying to the porcelain god” a bit too literally.  

#4 Bad boys, bad boys, whatcha gonna do?

Bad boys, bad boys

Whatcha gonna do when they come for you? Run to the “Evil Saloon for Men,” of course. You will never find a more wretched hive of scum and villainy. 

More seriously, this was probably supposed to read “Eiffel Salon for Men.” The salon owners may be wondering why they’ve attracted such a shady English-speaking clientele. 

#5 Coconut What Now?

coconut humans

Look out, it’s the dessert version of Soylent Green!  Suddenly, I’m not hungry anymore. 

The correct translation is possibly “coconut shavings,” which sounds much more appetizing. 

#6 And now, I’m really not hungry.

erm, no thanks

In fact, I may never eat again.

#7 Okay, I won’t do what you tell me. 

splish splosh

Why have rules if you’re going to kick people out for obeying them? 

A simple oversight in this translation, and it’s anarchy in the swimming pool.  

#8 Have you ever actually seen a flamingo?

dog or horse

What an unusual-looking flamingo! 

That’s because, translation fails aside, the sign isn’t about flamingos at all. “Llamingos” are domesticated camelids native to South America, much like llamas or alpacas.

#9 So confused right now.

suck and shower

After reading this sign, we have so many questions. Why would you turn on the vacuum cleaner when using the shower? What were they really trying to say? 

#10 No, thank you. 

I can't feel my face without you

Looks tasty… but sounds downright dangerous to your health. 

Labeling aside, the cheese in question probably isn’t poisonous or contaminated. The Arabic word for “strings” or “braids” is spelled the same as the Arabic word for “paralysis,” making this a strikingly common translation fail. Here’s another example of the same error. 

What do all of these translations have in common, other than being hilarious? They were clearly not done by professional linguists. A professional translator would have caught and corrected these errors before they went viral. 

Whether these examples were produced by Google Translate or simply by someone who didn’t speak both languages as fluently as they thought, they demonstrate the importance of proper quality control. Whatever your goal is when you translate your content, details matter. 

At TransForma, we offer high-quality translation services powered by experienced linguists, with detailed quality assurance checks. This ensures that your message gets across clearly and accurately every time. No joke!

Experience the TransForma difference for yourself. Contact us today to get started!