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Home --> Language --> Mistranslations

Mistranslations

Successful translation of material from one language to another is a difficult and tricky undertaking, and many well-known (even if apocryphal) translation failures are legendary.

Ratings Key

        Green bullet = true
        Red bullet = false
        Multiple status bullet = multiple truth values
        Yellow bullet = undetermined
        White bullet = unclassifiable veracity

Select this link for an expanded
definition of our rating system.


White bullet Early attempts at computer text translation produced hilarious results.

Red bullet The John Steinbeck novel The Grapes of Wrath was translated into Japanese as Angry Raisins.

Red bullet Cinderella's slippers were made of fur in the original versions of the fairy tale, but they became glass slippers in later versions as the result of a mistranslation.

White bullet Mistranslation at the United Nations results in humorous statement.

White bullet During World War II, the Germans passed up a chance to kill FDR because they mistranslated the name of the city Casablanca as "White House."

Red bullet A misinterpretation of Napoleon's complaint about his cough resulted in the unintended slaying of 1,200 prisoners.

Yellow bullet The name of Melbourne, Australia's annual Moomba Festival was taken from a derogatory Aboriginal term.

Red bullet President Kennedy called himself a jelly donut in his famous 1963 speech in Berlin, Germany.

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