Blind Idiot Translation/Live Action TV

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Internal message of the television-group of the phase (Live Action TV)

  • Fugitive Alien Several dials/meters on the Bacchus 3 are labeled hilarious things, such as: Space Speed, Cabin Air Presser, Tenperature, Sunny Side, and Other Side, while members of the Bacchus 3 wearing jumpsuits emblazoned with the badge "Security Guard". The computer actually shows a shipping manifest.
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Servo: Hey, that truck is going to Utah!

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  • In a House episode online with Spanish subs Dr Cameron describes a wound as "pus-y", i.e. oozing pus; the subtitles said the wound was a vagina.
    • The word is spelled the same ("pussy") even though it is pronounced differently. If the translators were working from the script or the English subtitles, it's unsurprising they made this error.
  • In the Buffy the Vampire Slayer episode "Faith, Hope and Trick", Mr. Trick says "It's the modern vampire who sees the big picture.". The Latin-American Spanish translators misheard the word "vampire" and the meanining of "big picture. So the dubbed Mr. Trick said: "Es por el... "Imperio Moderno". Es una buena película" (translated: Its because of the "Modern Empire". It's a good movie".
  • In an episode of Law and Order, there was a case being investigated when it links to a kid who got Crash Bandicoot as a present. (It Makes Sense in Context). Anyways, the Latin-American Spanish translators didn't knew the franchise's name. So, in the subtitles, when they say "Crash Bandicoot" it was translated as... * shudder* "El Canguro que Choca" (literally, "The Crashing Kangaroo"). Let's see just how wrong this is on many levels.
  • The Latin American dub of "The Big Bang Theory" translated "Facebook" as "Pagina de la cara" (Face page).
    • The Latin American sub also translated "String Theory" to "Teoría de Primavera" (Spring theory, spring the season).
    • The dub was awful bad, things like "The Big Bran Hipotesis" to "La Hipotesis del Gran cerebro" (Big Brain Hipotesis), "transgendered" to "transgesores" (transgressors), it seemed like they rushed making the translation and never check if it was accurate (aside changing many jokes to something completely unrelated)
  • There is a bootleg of the Ninja Sentai Kakuranger movie which translates "Kakurangers" as "Cuckoo Rangers" and contains the line "Go to Sam Hill, Cuckoo Rangers!"
  • Another infamous example by Hong Kong Subs was Kamen Rider Ryuki, in which in one episode, someone said, "Don't Molest the Lawyer". This too became a minor meme within the fandom.
  • In cultures where most people speak fluent English as a second language, Blind Idiot Translation can be used to create easy, deliberate comedy. For example, one of the most famous sketches by the finnish comedy troupe Kummeli involves a band (Kornit Murot, which in itself is a Blind Idiot Translation of "corn flakes" into "corny cereal") taking the lyrics to Every Breath You Take and blind-idiot translating them into finnish (the seminal ending line "I'll be watching you" becomes "Mä tuun kellottaan sua", or "I'll come and clock you").
  • A somewhat legendary Finnish translation of Star Trek interpreted "The odds are against us" as if the Odds were a species.
  • The people who do the Swedish subtitles for Discovery Channel programs must not have access to dictionaries or the internet while they work. Nor do they ever actually read what they have written to see if it makes sense in context. One particularly hilarious example was from a program on the Battle of Britain. The RAF versus the Luftwaffe. What could go wrong, right? Well, for one, you could choose to translate "dogfight" literally, and let your viewers picture for themselves dogs zooming through the skies over the English Channel.
  • The Latin-American translation of the Doctor Who series 1 DVD boxes (namely, the episode synopses) is remarkably unbelievable... due to the fact that their blatantly automated means of translation is incapable of modifying proper nouns, giving them a read may lead you to believe that there is a villain named "Earth"!
    • The German dub of series 1 took blind idiot translation literally and made the new regenerated Doctor say "Blaue Zähne? Das ist merkwürdig" (Blue Teeth? That´s weird) making no sense whatsoever because he had no blue teeth visually and how could he even be aware of this without ever having seen his new self in a mirror?
    • Speaking of the German DVD boxes of Series 1, on the English edition we find a point in the menu called "Destruction of the Lair". The German translator was obviously looking for a typo where there wasn't one and had no clue whatsoever what a "lair" was, so he/she went with the next best idea s/he had and translated it as "Den Lügner entlarven" (How to reveal the liar).
    • The writers of the German subtitles also seem to be deaf and/or clueless. In "The Empty Child", Captain Jack Harkness says something among the lines of "a sailor carries love into every port." The German subtitles read as follows: "Ein Seeman trägt Liebe in jede Pore." (A sailor carries love into every PORE.)
  • The Norwegian broadcast of the 2nd seasons finale of Lost has the word "hostiles" translated to "gjestehusene" becauase the translator misheard the word as "hostels".
    • Also from Norway, in the season 1 episode "Hearts and Minds," the translation states that Boone and Shannon are half siblings, instead of step-siblings. This mistake would not be that big of a problem if said step-siblings didn't actually have sex in the very same episode.
    • However, the most famous Norwegian example is a translation of the term "makeup sex"" in Seinfeld. This was translated as "sminkesex", which means: Having sex while wearing make-up. And no, that's not an actual word.
  • In an episode of Gilmore Girls, Chris asked his daughter "What are you doing, Pupu?". This was translated to Hebrew, completely out of sync with the context and tone of the show, as "What are you doing, defecating?".
    • Hebrew subtitles are too numerous to list. A few examples contain "Mass driver" in an episode of Babylon 5 translated as "A lot of (car) drivers", confusing "Stuff" and "A staff" in Xena, translating "Tissue" as "paper towels" when refering to human tissues in The Sentinel and "I've got another barrel" as "I've got another cask" from a guy who just fired one shot from a two barreled shotgun.
        • There was also some show when a character said he was chased by Christian Slater and the subtitles translated it literally into "chased by a Slater who is Christian"
  • In the Breaking Bad episode "Mandala," there's a restaurant called "Los Pollos Hermanos," which evidently is supposed to translate as "The Chicken Brothers." The grammatically correct Spanish would be "Los Hermanos Pollos."
    • Not really. It depends on where you put the emphasis. If you want to say that two chickens are brothers, then you'd say "Los Pollos Hermanos". If you want to say two brothers are also chickens, then you would say "Los Hermanos Pollos".
      • And neither case is correct in any event; the intent is to convey that there are two brothers who cook chicken.
  • The Dutch VHS release of the Star Trek: Voyager episode Shattered translated "A poet and a philosopher? Your intelligence file doesn't do you credit." to "Your IQ test doesn't do you credit."
    • It can get worse. On the Dutch DVD release of Star Trek: Enterprise, we get an... interesting subtitle when T'Pol says "Target the lead vessel." Lead can have two meanings: something that is in charge and something made of lead. Now guess what the translator went with.
  • Speaking of Star Trek, the German dub of Star Trek: The Next Generation saw a few of those. One of the more interesting ones would be Dr. Crusher, sitting on the bridge on the enterprise, alone in an empty ship in a shrinking warp-bubble in the Episode "Remember me", asking the computer "What is that mist out there?". This was translated to "Was ist das für ein mist da draussen?", keeping the Word "mist" of the English version, thus having her ask "What kinda manure (/crap) is that out there?". Works in spirit, but is still not quite right.
    • Oh heck, Star Trek in general when broadcasted in the Netherlands on any of the commercial stations. Extremely convuluted translations for setting specific words were used. While completly correct in both form and context, the translations which appeared on stations RTL 5, Net5 and SBS 6 were ridiculed among fans to no end.
      • Examples: "Klingon" became "Klingoon" (why?!), "Warp" became "Krommingssnelheid" (good for scrabble!) are among a few of the more memorable idiotic translations.
  • Interestingly, Star Trek sometimes suffers from this even in the original English - regarding the *Klingon* dialogue. The Klingon language is rightly celebrated for being a fairly good attempt at a plausible alien language, as the grammar was devised by an actual linguist, Marc Okrand, who went out of his way to make it very different from Human languages and especially different from English. Unfortunately this meant that later Trek writers have had great difficulty making sense of Okrand's dictionary and have often opted for the Blind Idiot Translation option instead. For example translating "you honor me" as SoH batlh jI' (sic), which literally means something more like "I am an honor you are" (the correct Klingon would be choquvmoH). Ronald D. Moore, the writer credited with creating much of the Klingon culture seen in the Next Generation era, has admitted to finding the original Klingon dictionary "cumbersome" and that he preferred to make up words as he went along instead.
  • Dutch subtitles gain. In one episode of The X-Files, Cancer Man was translated as... Kreeftman (Lobster Man).
    • This might be Bowdlerized, since calling him "Kanker Man" (a better translation) wouldn't work. Apparently "kanker" is used as a swear word in Dutch... one so bad that even the Dutch hesitate to use it. So instead of using "cancer the disease," they used "cancer the Zodiac sign," which is "Kreeft," also meaning "lobster."
  • The German translation of FlashForward has numerous examples. "We're simulating the Big Bang." turns into "Wir simulieren den Mega-Wumms." (roughly: "We're simulating the huge kaboom.") Other examples include turning the meaning of certains sentences into their opposite and misunderstanding 78 % as 87 % - a common mistake: in German, the tens are always mentioned last.
  • Home And Away's Norwegian sub is badly stricken with this, when "someone's boyfriend", referring to one of the present character's boyfriends, get changed to "[absent character]'s new friend"... when that character hasn't even mentioned getting any new friends for ages, you really start wondering about whether or not the translators pay any attention to the plot whatsoever, they most likely don't as other horrible, horrible instances will prove to you.
  • The Hungarian dub of Friends received notoriety among translation nitpickers because of things like "my bad" being translated as "that's my bed" or "paramedics" becoming "a para-phenomenon".
  • The Spanish (Spain) dub of How I Met Your Mother translated incorrectly Barney's sentence "If you don't laugh, it just seems mean", turning it into "Si no te ríes, no te parecerás a mí" (which translates as "If you don't laugh, you won't be like me").
  • This happens several times in-universe in Sue Thomas FB Eye when hearing characters try to use ASL and mistake similar signs, such as "sausage" for "shoe." Or the time Randy asked his Deaf date if she wanted to make out.[1]
    • Another episode had a father who didn't sign learning just enough sign to give a moving speech to his deaf daughter. He kept trying to say "I just wanted you to join my world", but accidentally used the sign for "Ferris wheel" instead every time.
  • Any time a Deaf character uses ASL, and the show employs English subtitles, it appears the the actor has made an ad hoc translation of the script, but the subtitles have been taken literally from the script. Sometimes the signing looks right, and is appropriate for the situation, while a closer translation is just not something a person using ASL spontaneously would ever say. However, by the time the show comes together, the script is not a very good translation of what is being signed.
    • For example, in a recent episode of Switched at Birth, a character's sign was subtitled "stay around." They is a way of signing "stay around" almost literally, but the actor said something that would better have been translated "stick around," (or in a more formal context, "persevere"). The actor's choice was more appropriate to the flow of the conversation, but by then the subtitle looked wrong.
    • In another example, from something a long time ago, the word in the subtitle was "defenestrate." The Deaf actress signed literally, "open-window, throw-out." So, "throw out the window" would have been much better than "defenestrate." Unless a Deaf person spelled out D-E-F-E-N-E-S-T-R-A-T-E, that subtitle would almost never be right.
  • Series/Grimm: Monster names and related terminology are German, resulting in much pain and hilarity for speakers. Starts with simple grammar fail like using adjectives as nouns or wrongly cobbled-together compound words, and ends with completely nonsensical/unintelligible words or horrible dictionary slips (e.g. the supposed 'bee queen' is called "bee gay [person]").
  • The now defunct Danish TV station tvdanmark was notorious for poorly translated subtitles. A famous example was a discussion of hereditary diseases on Star Trek: The Next Generation, where "haemophillia" became "homophilia" in the translation. Other classics were a fantasy series with "A forest full of goblins, trolls and killer whales (orcs/orcas)" and turning Seattles "Space Needle" into a "Space Shuttle".
  • A recently released bootleg box set of Sherlock had the following description on the back:
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Detective Sherlock! Rejection of 125 years ago, the editors did not think, young doctors of Portsmouth, a detective story written in his spare time, for the history of world literature, dropped a bombshell; two screenwriter did four years ago in the English countryside on the train expected, the Victorian detective moved to London in the 21st century will be such a warm welcome, not to mention two BAFTA and a variety of audience Choice Award; 17 months ago, we did not expect to start in a burst of machine gunfire the story will be in our hearts painted on how gorgeous one. Sherlock Holmes, but always one miracle. Deductive method of the site has been from lack of updates, in 180 countries, millions of viewers hope in their eyes, I do not know the second quarter of Baker Street, Scotland Yard and Whitehall can give us what kind of adventure?

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  • As good as the Sanctuary episode "Normandy" was - somebody seriously messed up the German lines. The translations are usually very literal, and when hearing the German text one can only make sense of what they say by translating it back to English. Example: "Bring them/him down!" as in "Shoot them!" was translated as "Bringt ihn/sie herunter." which is technically correct, but doesn't have this meaning in German. Essentially the bad guy told the troops to bring someone downstairs.
  1. He meant to ask "would you like some coffee?"