What are some examples of the worst translations?

Once upon a time, a Chinese girl learned Japanese language for 3 years in college. On summer vacation, she decided to do some part time job to practice Japanese and earn some money. Luckily a travel agency hired her as a guide and a translator who was supposed to guide Japanese tourists to popular attractions in Beijing. She pulled one week all-nighter studying to cram the guide book in Japanese then started her work with confidence!

So she guided a group with 20 Japanese tourists to the world famous Palace Museum. She started to introduce “The Exhibition of Treasures” which is called 珍宝馆(zhen bao guan) in Chinese. Many Chinese characters have similar meaning in Japanese but pronounced differently. So Chinese specific terms such as places and names are usually literally translated into Japanese copying their Chinese characters which makes sense in Japanese too. In this case, her Japanese guide book used the literal translation of 珍宝館 which pronounced as chinpokan. And the 3 Chinese characters mean similar both in Chinese and Japanese- 珍 precious 宝 treasure 館/馆 pavilion- perfectly “The Exhibition of Treasures”!

According to this logic, this girl took it for granted that 珍宝(read ‘zhenbao’ in Chinese and ‘chinpo’ in Japanese) means same in Chinese and Japanese- treasures!

So she explained so much details about those treasures- fantastic chinpo, expensive chinpo, chinpo which were stolen or destroyed by invaders, big chinpo, small chinpo, the queen’s favorite chinpo…

Then she found polite Japanese tourists were smiling.

The kind of smile one step from laughing.

They lowed their heads, bit their lips, tried their best to hold laughter.


20 minutes later, from a very kind Japanese Osaka grandma, and confirming with the dictionary, she eventually got to know…

Chinpo in Japanese means PENIS/DICK.

And guess who is the silly girl?

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