A Hand Grenade? I Was Sure that Was a Fire Extinguisher!

The “hand grenade” in the picture looks a little heavy to throw very far. It also looks less explosive than an actual grenade, and more like safety equipment made for discharging water, foam or gas to extinguish a fire. The sign, written in both Chinese and English, is unfortunately the consequence of a mistranslation.

An Analysis From Our Translators

Whoever was responsible for translating the sign into English did not properly consider the context. In fairness, if an actual fire extinguisher is unavailable as a reference, then a mistranslation is more likely to occur. According to the expertise of our professional and highly trained team of translators, 灭 means “exterminate, destroy, extinguish”; 火 means “fire”; and 瓶 means “bottle, container”.

The original sign was misinterpreted as a depiction of a device that produces fire (instead of extinguishing it) and is used for destruction. A literal translation devoid of context led the translator to settle for “grenade,” as it causes destruction, produces fire and is handheld.

At Day Translations, we only work with professional and highly trained translators, while our editors ensure the prevention of mistranslations like the one in the image. We want to stop people from mistaking fire extinguishers for weapons!

Do you have any mistranslations to share with us? Just leave your message in the comment section below.

Image credit: When the translation of a Chinese sign turns into an inappropriate way to refer to vegetables, from Engrish.com.