Lost in translation

Grammar in any language can be tricky to get the hang of, but bring an online translator into the scenario and you enter a whole new world of complication. While translation tools can be handy as guidance, they do require skill in order to be used effectively, and simply copying and pasting paragraphs can end in disaster, producing some very dodgy misinterpretations. Here at MLV, we’ve seen it all, particularly when it comes to CVs – the declaration that an applicant wants to enter the world as a ‘beginner fish’, or the assertion that someone is an ‘Italian Tough Mother’ for example, provided quite a giggle amongst office staff. Being multilingual, it can be a challenge to juggle between languages – you can imagine the awkward moment when a candidate accidently used the Spanish word ‘molestar’ (meaning to annoy or bother) in a Portuguese context, where its meaning is to molest

And it’s not just online translator tools that can cause confusion; phonetically transcribing words can also prove to be a challenge, often producing some rather odd phrases; like ‘spatula of arts’ for example, not the best start in promoting your degree and winning over employers… although it may win some laughs.

With the English Language awash with idioms and words with multiple meanings, it’s understandable that complications arise when translating. So it’s not surprising that a trip abroad can be a prime opportunity to spot these mishaps – Just take a look at this long list - a lucky security guard could end up with a free meal for his lunch thanks to a sign at a zoo in Budapest reading ‘PLEASE DO NOT FEED THE ANIMALS. IF YOU HAVE ANY SUITABLE FOOD, GIVE IT TO THE GUARD ON DUTY’. And a sign outside a doctor’s office in Rome that reads ‘SPECIALIST IN WOMEN AND OTHER DISEASES’ could cause some serious offence amongst the female English holiday-makers.

One word of advice is to be sure your spelling and grammar checker is switched ON! It’s also a good idea to get your writing proof-read by a reliable source before letting anyone else have a read. Take a look at our post below on top tips regarding writing your CV.


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