German-English blunders and mistranslations

I figured since there are a LOT of English-speakers on here, we might have some linguistic fails to share.

I have two funny stories about translations and mis-translations.

  1. I was joking with one of my old German teachers about this video. He said he would show it to the advanced classes, they would love him. I said “only if you remove the black stripe” [in German, “nur wenn ziehst du den schwarzen Streifen ab.”]

But that’s not how I typed it. I accidentally typed “nur wenn ziehst du den schwarzen Steifen ab.” Steifen means “hard-on” and “abziehen” also means “pull off” in addition to “remove”.

So by mistyping ONE LETTER, what I said changed from “only if you remove the black stripe” to “only if you jerk off the black stiffie.” (he quickly let me know my mistake, and both he and Noel were still laughing about it days later).

  1. Noel is playing Rift in German. He started laughing last night, because some NPC threatened him, and he thought it was a very strange threat. He translated it for me, and said the threat was “I’ll make stocking holders from your intestines.”

So I started laughing, and said that I was pretty sure in English that was originally “I’ll have your guts for garters!”

I love games like Munchkin where the jokes are translated literally and you’re always reverse-translating in your head, often with strange results… (Ok, I don’t really like Munchkin, but the translations of the gags are amusing.)

what I hate, on the other hand, is games where the rules are different depending on which language you happen to be playing. I think Ghost Stories was like that. Yurgh!

What was the difference of gameplay with ghost stories?

I forget the exact details; it’s been a while. It was some minor detail that came up in a game, and two people reading the rules in two different languages came up with two different conclusions. Then again, Ghost Stories isn’t exactly known for its well-presented rules in the first place…