Translation / interpretation errors

Jun 2012
225
#1
I can think of 3 notable times there was an error in translation or interpretation.

1. My understanding is that a translation error in the Japanese response to the Potsdam Declaration led the Allies to believe Japan had no intention of surrendering. This contributed to the use of the atomic bombs.

2. The "bury" in Khruschev's "We will bury you" should have been "surpass."

3. Jimmy Carter's interpreter in Poland was a good RUSSIAN interpreter, but was not as good at Polish.

Any others to add?
 

Chlodio

Ad Honorem
Aug 2016
3,379
Dispargum
#2
During the 1972 Moscow Summit Brezhnev asked Nixon how Vice President Agnew was. Nixon replied, "Out of sight, out of mind." Brezhnev's translator told Brezhnev Agnew was an "invisible maniac."
 

Chlodio

Ad Honorem
Aug 2016
3,379
Dispargum
#4
At the signing ceremony for the Nazi-Soviet Non-Aggression Pact, the Soviet delegate raised a glass and said in German, "I drink to eternal fiendship, er, I mean friendship." German is just like English, the two words are separated only by an r.
 
Dec 2011
1,290
#5
At the signing ceremony for the Nazi-Soviet Non-Aggression Pact, the Soviet delegate raised a glass and said in German, "I drink to eternal fiendship, er, I mean friendship." German is just like English, the two words are separated only by an r.
Well, it's an r, an i, and a u, but yeah, the difference still lends itself for slip ups like this. Do you have any sources, though? Never heard of this before.
 
Sep 2012
3,553
Bulgaria
#6
During the 1972 Moscow Summit Brezhnev asked Nixon how Vice President Agnew was. Nixon replied, "Out of sight, out of mind." Brezhnev's translator told Brezhnev Agnew was an "invisible maniac."
I read a story about this proverb, before the fall of iron curtain, about a computer that was programmed to translate from Russian to English and vice versa. To test the machine the programmers decided to have it translate a phrase into Russian and then translate the result back into English in order to see if they had get the same words they started with. So they fed into the computer the English phrase 'Out of sight out of mind' and got in return 'Blind idiot', they tried it again with 'The spirit is willing but the flesh is weak' and the result was 'The vodka is good, but the meat is rotten!'
 
Nov 2016
430
Munich
#7
My understanding is that a translation error in the Japanese response to the Potsdam Declaration led the Allies to believe Japan had no intention of surrendering. This contributed to the use of the atomic bombs
Good Translation Might Have Prevented Hiroshima

Chase said the Japanese responded with the word ''mokusatsu,'' which was intended to mean in context that they were reserving comment. The Allied Powers were mistakenly informed by inaccurate translators that ''mokusatsu'' meant that the Japanese were ignoring it. On July 28, the Allies allegedly decided to proceed with the invasion plans.
 

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