Mistranslations - Urinal is Broken

Sometimes Cuss Words are Said When the Urinal is Broken

This should have been an easy translation from German to English. The words “pissor defekt” just mean that the urinal is broken. There is absolutely no reason for swear words or expletives to be thrown at it. Unfortunately, it seems that whoever wrote the warning sign did just that.

What is really unfortunate is that for most instances, the first thing that anyone knows about a foreign language are the swear words. This is probably due to the circumstances when these are uttered, which are usually when they are least expected, or when emotions run high. Nevertheless, there is no reason to use this in a public sign.

The second translation is worse than the English translation. It seems to be Scandinavian or Icelandic, but fails as well. The translator or the one who made the sign may have just a rudimentary understanding of English – meaning that he knows the swear words – but definitely knows less of Scandinavian languages.

When traveling to other countries, a tourist or a businessman should have at least a passing understanding of other languages. Even if it is just a week’s stay in a country like Germany, the traveler would have a better time and a better appreciation of the language. At the very least, there would be no need to understand crude translations to English.

The sign also says a lot of the culture of what English speakers usually contribute to the common language of other countries. There are some swear words which are common in most languages, and then there are the elegant ways of cursing. In this instance, it would not have mattered if the urinal was broken or damaged. A blank paper with an “X” mark may convey the same message, asking that the urinal should not be used.

In any case, the poor customer should be happy there was an attempt at a warning, as using a broken urinal would not have yielded anything good.

Image credit – via Pinterest

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