Friday, October 10, 2008

Why "word for word" translation isn't always a good thing...

I follow a few blogs and often those lead me to other blogs. It can be a wild goose chase down many rabbit trails (and mixing metaphors may be against the rules in some worlds, but occasionally setting them right up against one another is just convenient). Today I followed one of those trails and found a delightful illustraiton of why literal, word for word translation sometimes leads to miscommunication.

A blogger working in West Africa sharee the following on her blog recently:

Last night I went to a Tex-Mex restaurant. They had tortilla chips on the menu, which was even in English. So we ordered them. This is what we got.

A fried tortilla with fries on top.

Fries=chips in British English

So, tortilla chips.

Word for word translation can lead to serious miscommunication.

The fries were good, so this was not a serious miscommunication, just a good laugh.

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