The perfume of bad translation, part 2

Apparently my new favorite hobby on small airlines is to read their in-flight shopping catalogues — specifically what appear to be their worst and most amusing translations. I discovered this pastime a year ago, as some of you may remember. In this case, I was flying Aegean with a flightload of Greeks, nearly all of whom were engaged in loud conversation with someone behind them or across the aisle; the aisle itself was clogged with happy people standing around chatting. I personally had nobody to talk to except the in-flight literature. Fortunately, it did not disappoint.


Watches, your first accessory for hunting wooly mammoths

perfume of bad translationReminder: Cavemen don’t wear watches. Buy this watch because you’re a Northern caveman, hunting Ice Age creatures, unconcerned with time.


Matt Sylicon is the best

Sssh, we totally didn’t mean “matte silicone” or whatever the heck this is made of; Matt Sylicon is actually the name of the inventor.


The iconic misguided brand

I always like using memo-style ad copy. Key fragrance notes include:

  1. sensual
  2. essence
  3. pear
  4. musky
  5. desire

This perfume comes with its own parental advisory for adult content

I think it’s called “cool water” because that’s what you turn to in order to pretend that this copy does not make you strangely uncomfortable as you read it next to strangers.


Attracting one of the most memorable senses, the scent

The first sentence of the ad copy seems like it came straight off a neural machine translation engine with no post editing. It has all the pretense of English and none of its sense… and the sense is scent, obviously.

The first sentence of the ad copy seems like it came straight off a neural machine translation engine with no post editing. Click To Tweet

About Katie Botkin

Katie Botkin, managing editor at MultiLingual, has a background in linguistics and journalism. She began publishing "multilingual" newsletters at the age of 15, (the linguistic variety at this early stage consisting mostly of helpful insults in Latin) and went on to invest her college and post-graduate career in language learning, teaching and writing.

One thought on “The perfume of bad translation, part 2

  1. Marjolein Groot NibbelinkMarjolein Groot Nibbelink

    Ha ha, I got a brownie that said “Made with machines that are used by brazil nuts.” Fancy seeing nuts working in those factories.

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