Real English® Blog Feed

Sunday, April 25, 2010

Funny Translations

The Oral Route
This is the first in a series called Funny Translations

I've translated from French to English part time, but regularly for about 40 years. In the beginning, it was an interesting challenge to really understand what was being said and understood by the original author and those reading the translation. But this is not interpretation, which is even more challenging to do well. We're only talking about text here. Translation.

My first funny observation concerns ubiquitous bad translations. My favorite is the pharmaceutical French to English text on all medicine of all sorts.

In French, there is clear emphasis on through which “hole” you take your medicine. There are quite a few, such as Voie parentérale - Voie intra-nasale - Voie pulmonaire... - and the 2 most common - Voie orale  and Voie Anale.

I have read the following translations for many years in France, sometimes on the outside of the package but always on the informative leaflet inside: "Oral Route" & "Anal Route".

 How many packets of aspirin pointing out "Oral Route" for example, have you seen on aspirin sold in the UK or the USA? So what's a good translation of "Voie Orale"? No translation at all is the best translation. The only "translation" is contained in the instructions, such as "Take 2 at bedtime with a glass of water.", or something similar. The oral part is simply assumed as part of the sentence. We're not going to stuff aspirin up our nostrils (or anyplace else).

And yet, literally MILLIONS of over-the-counter and prescription drugs (tablets and capsules distributed by pharmacies in France) are translated/labeled "Oral Route". Ubiquitous insanity.

No comments:

Post a Comment