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False friends

As every professional and skilled Spanish translator knows, similar words in English and Spanish are something to be handled with caution. This is indeed one of the great sources of pitfalls in English to Spanish translations. Why you ask? Because without double checking and a healthy dose of self-doubt one could happily translate an English word into a similar Spanish word, feel very comfortable about it, but convey an inaccurate or even utterly wrong meaning. Similar words in two languages that carry completely different meanings are known as false friends or false cognates. Some English-Spanish false friends have reached the hall of fame and created many hilarious and/or embarrassing situations. The word "embarrassed" and its Spanish false friend "embarazada"—meaning pregnant—are actually one of these acclaimed couples, together with "constipated" and its Spanish false friend "constipado"—someone who is "constipado" is someone who has a cold. Keeping these differences in mind, you can imagine a lot of funny situations with English-speaking people in Hispanic countries or the other way around, and chances are they’ve already taken place many times!



Funny translation of the week #14

More Spanish language creativity, this time by Skyline College:

Skyline College Spanish page

This time I won't give a back-translation, but will analyze the highlights of this text:

1) In a creativity feat, "available" has been translated in three different ways:
—"Avilable", an innovative adjective which is undoubtedly connected to the Spanish city "Ávila".
—"Aviable", which should refer to a place where an aviator can aviate.
—"Aviliable", which obviously comes from the root "bile" but has been misspelled. I just finished my lunch, so I will refrain from interpreting this term in depth.

Of course, the correct Spanish translation "disponible", which is available in any basic English-Spanish dictionary, was too straightforward and boring...

2) Other interesting new concepts:
—Catagolos (second paragraph, last sentence): Goal-o tasters, as translated from "catalogs"
—Requisto: Recyst-o, as translated from "requirement"
—Academicos relaccionados facilitaciones: Relacted académics-facilitations. No idea what this could mean, it is probably too advanced and scholarly for me...
—Información compresivo: Compressive information, which apparently compresses the person learning it. With this exciting new concept, nobody will ever need comprehensive information anymore!



Permalink 11:03:49 am, Categories: For translation buyers, For professional translators, 98 words  

Update on updates

If you are following this blog closely, you may be wondering about the slower updating pace in recent weeks. Indeed, only the "Spamish Translation of the Week" section has been active lately. This was due to a big overload of work here at JB Translations (yes, the blogger is also JB Translations manager and translation reviewer. When we say that middle-men are at a minimum here, we're not joking!)

So now that the workload has apparently calmed down a bit, you should expect to see more frequent updates here on Into Spanish Translation Blog. I'll keep you posted! ;)



Funny translation of the week #13

Cooley Dickinson Hospital's CEPA program for Hispanics is a real source of creativity for the Spanish language. So much so that a thorough grammatical and etymological research was needed in order to translate the innovative coined Spanish terms on these couple of sentences, and a small glossary was created:

CEPA program

The back-translation follows:

CEPA's goal is connecting Latinos with the services they neeth to suckeep good health.

Since 1993, CEPA members have been working with the comunity provilling informatión with educational activities and meetings, VIH/AIDS infection, and other sexual diseases of transmissión.

And the promised glossary for key terms, in approximate order of appearance:

Nesesitan—They neeth
Mamener—To suckeep
Enfermedades de transmisión sexuales—Sexual diseases of transmission
Provellendo... infección de VIH/SIDA—Provilling VIH/AIDS infection

Providing VIH/AIDS infection? Oooops! I suddenly remembered that I am expected somewhere far away right now!



Spamish translation of the week #12

Today we have a dumbfounding confession from Dish Network Latino (

Dish Network Latino

Which would back-translate as:

We appreciate your business venture and will work with difficulty to keep it. Thanks for visiting our site!

So they kind of like your company and are ready to do whatever it takes to keep it!!! If I were you, I would stay away from them! Granted, they are upfront and honestly say what their ambitions are, but I would rather keep my business venture for myself, thanks!

This is what the original text in English said: "We appreciate your business and will work hard to keep it. Thanks for visiting our site!"

For starters, "trabajar difícilmente" (to work with difficulty) is quite a poor translation of "working hard"; and even more importantly, "business" can be translated as "negocio" or "negocios" sometimes, but not at all in this context. Here, "negocio" actually means "business venture", "company". Indeed, there is not a straightforward way to translate "we appreciate your business" in Spanish. You need to rethink the expression and imagine what you would say if you weren't translating, but writing an original text for Hispanics...



Spamish translation of the week #11

Americabs flies the extra mile...

Language correction is not there, but at least their offer to Hispanics rocks! You can't say they're not making an effort:

Which would back-translate as (first two lines):

1. We transport our clilents to the airport.
2. We lift our clients up from the airport.

So actually, you get off from your plane and think that Americabs will drive you to your destination... well, if you're Hispanic you couldn't be more wrong! Americabs will lift you up from the airport and take you flying to your destination! When you think that English-speaking clients are only being picked up from the airport...

So how's that for showing your appreciation to your Hispanic clients?


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