Some Translation Trouble

When foreigners use the Czech language, results can be quite funny. I remember that I was once talking about a good friend and his girl. Tragically, I chose the wrong word for girl. These two words sound incredibly similar, but knowing the difference can actually save your face: dívka1 is girl while (what I used) děvka means bitch. Doh!

Another foreigner who was resolved to learn Czech in a restaurant tried to call the waiter – číšník – and shouted: “Pane Česneku!” Again: Sounds similar, but česnek means garlic, not waiter.

These things seem to happen more than anywhere else in pubs. When you sit in a hospoda2 don’t expect that Hospodin3 will serve you.4

It’s the same with written language. Something is strange about this label of a breadfruit:

quiet-environment“Keep in the shadow and consume in a quiet environment.” Maybe in a forest? Or under a blanket?

How about that bottle? The instruction “Keep closed and cool” became in Czech: “Closed5 and keep a cool head.” So please don’t panic when you see what’s inside.

You find this and further hilarious examples at Překladatelské perly
You find this and further hilarious examples at Překladatelské perly.

In this case, I think it’s not the translator who is to blame. It rather looks like a translation without knowing the context.

Last, a photo taken in a train that gives evidence of the same trouble in the opposite direction:

na-predstavkuSo where can we find the trash bin? Představek turned into fore compartment housting and Trittfläche (which must be the doorstep outside – but this is very dangerous).

I think the Italian translator wins the prize with vestibolo.


  1. Dívka or děvče, plural děvčata – come on, if you mix děvče and dívka, it clearly becomes děvka – or do you try to deny that?
  2. pub
  3. God
  4. Many foreigners would not even notice the difference between Hospodin jest můj pastýř. and Hospodin jest paštikář. It’s really sad.
  5. Literally closed, but also used for people in the meaning of uncommunicative, secretive, close-mouthed