LanguageLine Blog

Please Check In Animals & Alcoholics: 9 Signs Lost in Translation

Written by Scott Brown | January 13, 2017

Sometimes signs that are meant to direct or clarify only create more confusion. Others make us laugh; still others make us cringe.

The LanguageLine team loves to travel, so we have seen our fair share of perplexing signs.

Here are nine travel-related signs that apparently got lost in translation.

1. Should I stay, or should I go? This sign had travelers in Tokyo wondering.

Source: @BobDiddict

2. I’ll pass on the salad.

Source: John Rehm @j_rehm

3. This store is open for business, but all apologies. 

Source: @ArkadasklikYacht

4. China wants to keep an eye on anyone who drinks too much (according to this sign).

Source: Screwed Up English: Twisted Translations of the English Language From Around the World, by Charlie Croker

 5. Strong people don’t need to sit down.

Source: Flickr, oopsilon

 6. We prefer a civilized airport to the alternative.

Source: Flickr

7. At least the intent of this sign is clear.

Source: Flickr, Gene Hunt

8. It’s probably not a good idea to advertise this at the Sochi Olympics.

Source: StayinSochi.com

9.This sign missed the mark, but at least it’s encouraging.

Source: imgur.com

Don’t Let Bad Translation Happen to You

Humor aside, poor translation can pose problems for travelers and the companies they serve. That’s why it’s so important to use native-quality translators who are well-versed in cultural nuances and can convey the true meaning of the intended text.

Regardless of the industry, companies that invest in translation report higher revenue, more efficient operations, and stronger customer loyalty.

If your organization needs language translation help, we encourage you to take a look at our e-book, The Guide to Translation and Localization. It offers a blueprint for planning a successful translation project, choosing the right translation and localization partner, ensuring quality control and more. (Plus, there are examples of more humorous translation fails sprinkled throughout the book.) Get your free copy today.

(Top photo credit: Flickr