The Housebraker and his dodgy translations.

I’ve said it so many times, but if you’re going to translate something to a foreign language, especially if you’re going to pay for a lot of expensive posters for it, please do it right.

Walking round Riga recently, I’ve seen this everywhere.

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It hurts my eyes so much to see an upmarket art exhibition advertised with bad, misspelt English. “Housebraker” sounds like a “trying-too-hard-to-be-cool” DJ, rather than the correct “housebreaker” and even there, “The burglar” would be a more common translation of Kramplauzis. I just hope in this case that the folks at Riga city council or whoever is paying for it, haven’t spent too much on it, though I worry they have.

As an aside as well, why is it that 99.9% of translations I see always use American spellings e.g. “organize” rather than “organise” ? Aren’t the UK and Ireland a little closer? What’s wrong with good old-fashioned British English?

I see this all the time in the Baltics, with bad translations making otherwise decent places look amateurish and lazy, like they can’t be bothered to hire a decent translator. In Lithuania, a couple of months ago, I came across such delightful restaurant offerings as dumpings

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and the iffy-sounding manhole bread

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rounded off with the ever-present “Carbonate.” Yuk.

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Less is more, as we say in English and there are times when no translation is better than a crap one. As George Michael once sang: “if you’re gonna do it, do it right.”

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