dodgy translations

My overseas customers are great.  They’re a fab, (mainly) easy-going bunch of people to work for who send me scripts with clear pronunciation guides and plenty of lead-time.  But sometimes, just sometimes, they send me some really dodgy English translations.

What, for example, does “please ambush for a juncture in music” mean??  Actually, it means “please hold” to one of my favourite French clients, but you get my point. Here are some of my favourite translations recently seen on various international scripts:

  • “The being you wish to contact is currently reclining in lunch”
  • “Beware of candles, for they are made of flame.”
  • “Our restaurant doesn’t serve dog.”
  • “We are the big knobs in the city.”
  • “When you use our cosmetics, you can smell the sex.”

You’ve gotta love it.

I always give the client what they ask for – or try to – but sometimes what the client thinks they want really isn’t good for them…  In these instances, I always give them what the script demands (“when it comes to chocolate, we like it brown”) and then a healthy alternative…if I can understand what the client’s on about in the first place.  There’s a fair bit of guesswork but between me and the customer, we end up with something vaguely understandable.

But I can’t say this loudly enough:  please, if you don’t speak good English, make sure you get your script looked over by a translator!  You could save yourself a lot of blushes…


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Emma Clarke

Emma is an award-winning voiceover, broadcaster and writer. Want to find out more about Emma?
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