DayTranslations Mistranslations Watch for Ice

Do You Really Need a (Wrist) Watch to Watch for Ice?

Ice is very slippery and it can be hazardous. It is a good thing that there’s a sign to warm people to be careful and to proceed with extreme caution if ice is present and the management of the place where this sign was posted should be commended.

What is not commendable is the way the sign was literally translated in Spanish. We already know that Spanish is the second most spoken language in the United States and many Hispanics are bilingual. But by having an important warning sign such as this mistranslated in Spanish seems like an insult even to people with limited or just a basic knowledge of the language. Maybe it’s because the English part is also abbreviated.

Would the translation be better if the sign said: “Proceed with extreme caution. Watch out for ice.”? Or maybe the sign should have said “Look out for ice” instead. What’s the lesson learned here? It is to proceed with caution when it comes to translation. It is better to work with a professional translator than rely on a free online translation tool to avoid mistakes and confusion.

Fair Use Disclaimer: This site may contain copyrighted material the use of which has not always been specifically authorized by the copyright owner. We believe this constitutes a ‘fair use’ of any such copyrighted material as provided for in section 107 of the US Copyright Law. In accordance with Title 17 U.S.C. Section 107, the material on this site is distributed without profit, to those who have expressed a prior interest in participating in a community of individuals interested in our methodologies, for comment and nonprofit educational purposes. For more information go to: http://www.copyright.gov/title17/92chap1.html#107. If you, as a member of the community, wish to use copyrighted material from this site for purposes of your own that go beyond ‘fair use’, you must obtain permission from the copyright owner.