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Does anyone else feel the temptation to make silly translations, just for the fun of it?

Does anyone else experience this? You are looking at a document, such as: "El día en que la Tierra dejará de girar", and you see that title, and you feel a strange, puckish urge to have a bit of fun with it, instead of being very adult and serious. I was terribly tempted to translate the above Spanish sentence as, "The Day the Earth Stands Still", or possibly, "The Day on which the Earth Allows itself to Cease Gyrating."

However, I am fairly certain that it is meant to be a serious article about astronomy, so I wrote something sensible instead.

Does anyone else feel the urge to, on occasion, just be silly? And are there documents that you know of in which we can include word-play or vintage SciFi references, or a humorous tone in our translations?

August 31, 2012



Absolutely! There was one I did a while back titled, Una silla hecha con osos panda. Most translations were along the lines of, A chair made with panda bears, but I thought for a title it should be something more inspiring like, "Panda Bear Chair". I'm guessing mine received so many down-votes it got buried, but I don't care - I thought it was clever. :)


Of course! I succumbed to the urge myself when translating the title for "Los bodegueros por fin se dan cuenta" - the whole tone of the article seemed to be berating the wine producers for taking so long to realise the problems that would occur - so I translated the title as "The winemakers finally give a damn" :-) but apart from that I think that the closest I have come to humour in an article was with - Felpudo "Gol en propia puerta" http://duolingo.com/#/translation/e9dd4d6a931c1758b622f85e85a72854 - which was written very tongue in cheek by the Spanish author and the last two paragraphs of it cracked me up.


Noticing a way to add humour to my translations is a bonus. Sometimes I just happen upon an apt turn of phrase that allows for wordplay. Like @Gumbee, I know I'm likely to be downvoted for it, but I'll give it a go if it's a viable rendering.


Yes I do, though usually when I think the author is taking himself to seriously. Still in the case of "El día en que la Tierra dejará de girar" I'd guess that the mood of this in Spanish is already not that serious and may already be referencing "The Day the Earth Stood Still", after all it does begin "El día...". Also, titles are often quite funny, and scientists, science writers and even Spanish speakers have a sense of humour too. I enjoy detecting a bit of humour in the original, and having to make a little extra effort to translate it into English, rather than losing it in an overly literal translation.


@kiya-elle Yes, the "Felpudo: Gol en propia puerta" article was amusing, and very relevant to this thread as the title is also a pun in Spanish that I couldn't think of a way to translate English. "Gol en propia puerta" is the Spanish for an own goal in football (soccer), and of course "puerta" is Spanish for door, referencing the doormat (felpudo) of the article.


Oh LOL! I totally missed that, but yes, I guess for Americans it could be translated as the doormat "that is a huge feux pas" - or an equivalent sporting metaphor that has the same connotation. :-) .


Yes yes yes, I've felt the temptation too. It would be nice, I think, once in while to see something like that among the translations. Kiya, I LOVE "The winemakers finally gave a damn." I would have rated it super. You know, HUMOR would be a great new category for translation. It's good to be able to make jokes in your new language too, although I don't think I'd try it with anyone I didn't know well.


How about "the winemakers finally sober up and face reality".


I had the same experience once with a French sentence. Outside of context it was absolutely meaningless. Someone found a whole paragraph of the text. Sadly enough the phrase got only marginally clearer, so I organized a competition with two categories: The best hilarious translation and the best serious tranlsation. At the end there were three persons who participated with really very good translations (in both the categories). We were just a small group but we had big fun.


This is one of the reasons why when you do a good translation you should be given a bonus to encourage effort. I too feel sometimes tempted to come up with an odd translation.

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