It is Not Always a Dog Butt

A cigarette butt is the end of the cigarette, which is not lit. For some brands, there is a filter on that end. The word “butt,” comes from the shortened form of “buttocks.” This park sign with the English translation took the wrong end to end up with this mistranslation. First off, nobody lights up a dog. Secondly, it is perfectly okay to call it a butt, or a cigarette butt.

The sign looks elegant, and seems to have been made specifically for the park. This would mean that the error was not replicated elsewhere. Another one-off sign, which may be cheaper compared to store-bought. The circumstances presume that store-bought translated signs do not have the same kind of error.

It should not be a wonder that the translation was not done by a professional, or even by someone who has a good grasp of English. This is a single sign in a whole park. It is a single-sentence warning not to throw cigarette butts. It also has the requisite graphic of a lighted cigarette. Lastly, most of the visitors are Chinese. Statistically, there is a higher percentage of Chinese smokers than there are English-speaking cigarette smokers. It makes sense not to hire someone to do the translation. The sentence is also grammatically correct, and this implies that it was copied from an online translation website.

There should be no problem with an online translator, or even with a handheld automated translator. These have gotten to the point of being grammatically correct. Translation may even use the correct words. However, the context and logic can be off. With a flawed logic, you end up with funny situations of mistranslations.

Translations must have the correct words, be grammatically correct and have the same exact meaning as the original. Without the right logic, mistranslations happen.

Image credit – Lost in translation: our top 20 picks via Lonely Planet

Fair Use Disclaimer policy