From the famous claim to an unsuspecting Chinese public that “Pepsi will bring your ancestors back from the dead” to the hotel in Japan who invite you to “take advantage of the chambermaid” we have all seen bad translations in action.

We’re not going to preach as we all make mistakes from time to time, but at Tongue Tied all of our translations are done by native speakers based in the target country and they are proofread as standard….. OK so we did preach a little bit, but just like the American computer company Wang we want our customers to know that we care about the quality of our work… we just wouldn’t choose the slogan “Wang Cares”, as they did, to show it.

We hope you enjoy these and please do send us some mistranslations that you have found.

When officials asked for the Welsh translation of a road sign, they thought the reply was what they needed. Unfortunately, the e-mail response to Swansea council said “I am not in the office at the moment. Please send any work to be translated”.


This is the version which went on the sign barring lorries from a road near a supermarket. The notice went up and all seemed well – until Welsh speakers began pointing out this embarrassing error.

 Tongue Tied always have a “human” available who will respond to your query within the hour and, as we now have more than 6500 specialist translators, we can even have a suitable translator working on your translation within the hour as well.

Here are some more of our favourite signs:



 …apparently this should be “ethnic museum” or “ethnic park”.


Fighting fire with fire?! Why you should never rely on machine translation…


…but if you do then make sure you use one with a more stable server…

Some more of our favourite signs


 ..probably “designated seat for the disabled”?

























Here are some mistranslations from hotels all over the world (Please send us your favourites):

Paris: “Please leave your values at the front desk”

Switzerland: “Our wines leave you nothing to hope for”

Norway: “Ladies are requested not to have children in the bar”

Vienna:  In case of fire, do your utmost to alarm the hotel porter”

Bucharest: “The lift is being fixed for the next day. During that time we regret that you will be unbearable” 

Moscow :  “If this is your first visit to the USSR, you are welcome to it”

Japan :  ”Guests are requested not to smoke or do other disgusting behaviors in bed”

Japan:  “You are invited to take advantage of the chambermaid” 

Thailand: “Please do not bring solicitors into your room”

Nairobi: “Customers who find our waitresses rude ought to see the manager”

Acapulco:  “The manager has personally passed all the water served here” 

Tokyo: “Is forbitten to steal hotel towels please. If you are not person to do such thing is please not to read notis”

Japan: “Please to bathe inside the tub”

Leipzig: “Do not enter the lift backwards, and only when lit up”

Belgrade: “To move the cabin, push button for wishing floor. If the cabin should enter more persons, each one should press a number of wishing floor. Driving is then going alphabetically by national order”

Athens: “Visitors are expected to complain at the office between the hours of 9 and 11 A.M. daily”

Switzerland: “Special today—no ice cream”

Tokyo: “Special cocktails for the ladies with nuts”

Finland: “To stop the drip, turn cock to right”

Click Here For Marketing Mistranslations


  1. Janet

    I’m not sure, but I think it was Chinese. It was a white chalk that you use to mark areas where you want to kill ants. The translation was “Keep away from children and old men.”

  2. lock out lock

    This design is spectacular! You certainly know how to keep a reader amused. Between your wit and your videos, I was almost moved to start my own blog (well, almost…HaHa!) Fantastic job. I really enjoyed what you had to say, and more than that, how you presented it.

Leave a Comment