Tuesday, August 11, 2009

More lost in translation

I am endlessly amused -- and frustrated working in two languages, only one of which I know. And this summer has been no different.

Translators are always walking in -- usually while I'm deep in copy -- and asking for advice:

"What's the word for a pregnant cow?" Boki asked the other day. 

Apparently my language is not as expressive as yours about bovine birth, I responded.

"What is an insult you'd use against a shepherd?" he wanted to know the other day.

I've never personally insulted a shepherd, or even knew one, I had to say, What was the offense he committed, but in general "sheep-f...er" might fit the bill.

"Fit the bill?"

You have to be careful about idioms in a two-language office.

And spelling can cause colorful confusion.

A reporter wrote an email recently about a story she was working on involving "tri gay." Mmm, the Americans pondered, they've gone beyond bisexual here. She actually mean "the third guy."

Miranda our editorial researcher recently complimented a blog post of mine as very funny but "a big obscene dough." I imagined a large Pillsbury Dough Boy flashing us before I figured out she meant -- A bit obscene, though."

As always, non-native speakers come up wit the best English. Candidate for this summer: 

Tampoos for those things women need once a month that like shampoo do help keep you clean.

John, our new American editor here, is as amused as I by the translated copy we get from our regional reporters outside BiH. He gets a laugh reciting his favorite start to a story about gambling casinos which is a description of a bouncer:

"He has hands big like jackhammers to knock down walls with," the story colorfully detailed.

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