Always useful when traveling.
This week, we’ve had a record amount of seeds floating through the air that look a lot like snow and are covering the ground in Stockholm.
The seeds are from willow and aspen trees, but if one were to try to use Google Translate to figure out where this is coming from, the translation would look like this:
Istället handlar det om rekordstora mängder frön från att sälg- och aspträd som slagit ut.
Instead, it is about record-high amounts of seeds from salmon and asparagus trees that have struck out.
Generally, this is how I translate most news stories in my head when reading quickly. However, I was wondering…. if this was true, can you imagine how horrible the forest would smell?
I looked up reviews on a children’s activity park in Italy, but everything was in Italian so I had to use Google Translate. I don’t know why this person only gave this place 2 stars. It sounds pretty interesting!
This past weekend, I took a shortcut past a brand new tram stop that had not yet opened. A very confused looking woman asked me in Swedish when the next tram was coming. I explained to her, also in Swedish, that the stop would not open until the next day, as it was a new stop for the new line.
From her confused look, I deduced that I had once again messed up my Swedish grammar in some way. However, I’m fairly certain I got all the key words correct. “New station” “Opens tomorrow” I’m not THAT terrible at Swedish.
It seems the problem may have been that this woman was not familiar with Stockholm and it’s transportation system. She kept insisting that she arrived at this stop a few hours ago and was trying to go back. Figuring she most likely was not a time traveler from the future, I tried to tell her that there was a different train (not tram) stop about 400 meters up the road just behind a large building. Perhaps that was where she arrived?
But because of what I can only assume must have been bad grammar ( “Different train, you go other side of building, different station.”), she did not trust my local knowledge. In a move I’ve experienced a few times before, she stared at me for a beat, then proceeded to approach another person to ask the exact same question.
It’s so frustrating to take time to help people when they totally ignore everything you say, even if it is in a caveman-like accent. Just because I’m missing a few adjectives doesn’t mean I can’t answer your question!
I need to find out the Swedish equivalent of “But that’s what I said!” and “I told you so!” Otherwise, I might just practice a standard phrase in perfect Swedish and use that for any question from now on. Example: “You only need to wait here 5 minutes. Have a lovely day.”
This will be my response for all future questions, whether they are “How long until the next train?” or “Where can I find something to eat?”. People will trust my confident, perfectly-spoken answer and wait for something that will never come unless they dare to trust information from someone with an accent.
Cavemen have feelings too!
In Stockholm, many businesses can be found in one building. While looking for directions to a doctor’s appointment, I noticed that the address was listed as a place called “Pizza Hatt.”
First, I will state the obvious, in that the owners are hoping a few people will be confused between the words Hut and Hatt and will just give up and eat there once they arrive.
Second, I was very disappointed I was not offered pizza at my doctor’s appointment.
And finally, a friend of mine sent me this picture as she was convinced the place must sell actual Pizza Hats.
I work part-time as a translator for Swedish to English documents.
My oldest son tried to translate a paper his school sent home about how he should prepare for singing in a concert. I don’t think he will be following in my footsteps any time soon.
We all know that Google and other websites monitor our searches and interests in order to tailor product ads to our needs (as well as other things). While having ads tailored to you isn’t the worst thing in the world, it is annoying that I have to think twice before searching for something because of the nagging knowledge that Google will think I’m “into that.”
For a haircare translation project I’m working on, I came across a product that I translated as working well for dandruff and “hair fungus.” I had (thankfully) never heard of hair fungus, so I looked it up to make sure it was actually a real thing and that I wasn’t mis-translating.
Yes, it’s a real thing and now the internet thinks I have hair fungus. The sacrifices we make for work sometimes.
Like most Swedes, I’m spending my winter months planning our summer vacations. I’ve been reading reviews on many of the places I’m interested in. A new feature is an automatic translating system. This makes some very funny reviews and responses from the owners. Just some examples that have made me laugh today:
” You were the only ones who have stayed one night on the bridge of the dead.”
“Dear Lord, I am sorry it has not been happy in his living room.”
“GO and UNPLUG THE POWER FROM THE WHOLE WORLD”
I picked up the Swedish paper this morning and had to ask myself, why is there a train full of virgins going to Moscow? After careful reading I finally realized that the report was about a train’s virgin voyage to Moscow. News is more interesting when I mis-translate.
Earlier in the week I was confused by the news report about problems with Christmas wolves. First of all I didn’t know we had Christmas wolves here and second, what is the problem? Are they stealing pies? Knocking over snowmen? What is the difference between regular wolves and Christmas wolves? After all of this thought, I was informed that the word was not wolves (vargar) but roads (vägar).
I am usually very careful about the expressions I use around people who don’t have English as a first language, but I slipped up earlier this week. A woman was asking me about our new apartment building and I told her it was nice, but it’s so new that they haven’t worked out all the bugs.
“Bugs??!! Oh no, it’s a terrible problem with insects. I can’t believe a new building like that has bugs!”
I tried to explain that I meant to say problems, but she seems set on the idea that our apartment is crawling with insects. I guess she won’t be interested in coming over for tea.
I’ve noticed that the woman at the reception desk at the swim hall always looks at me as if I’m an alien when I ask to swim. I’ve thought about this and I think I have figured out the problem. Even though I know the correct way to say a sentence in Swedish, I think I am lacking the basic social skills for the language and culture. The problem is that when I want to do something new, I learn the most basic and direct way to say it. I have no follow up. I don’t know how to make my sentences polite. When I go to the swim hall each week, I walk up to the desk and say, “I WANT TO SWIM!” (Jag vill simma!) When I get a haircut, I say, “I WANT A HAIRCUT!” (Jag vill klippa mig! – Yes, it sounds to me like I’m saying I want to cut myself, but other people assure me this means haircut.)
I have nothing to say after these sentences. If I were speaking English, I would probably say, “I’d like to swim, please,” and then make some comment about the weather. If I were asking for a haircut in English, I would say, “Yes, I’d like to get a haircut today. Just a little off the ends.”
But in Swedish, I am forced to announce my needs in a caveman fashion and my only follow up may be occasional miming. After I announce my desire for a haircut in Sweden and they ask me how much, I usually just make my hands into scissors and pretend to cut where I would like it. This gets the message across but may also be why people occasionally treat me as if I am a crazy street person.
One thing that makes television fun to watch over here is the way they translate the titles. There is a show on every evening listed as, “I Have Become Bitten.” I’ve never actually looked at the show but I think I should. It certainly sounds interesting. I wonder what it could be. Obviously someone is bitten each week and not overly concerned about it.