The Importance of Good Translation

A Hungarian and an American were walking down the street, both of them wishing they were holding hands.  They’d been teaching English in the same Hungarian school for months, and they’d grown quite fond of each other.

The American was talking about a man she knew, and the Hungarian grew worried about this potential rival.  “Did you two have a romantic relationship?” he eventually asked pensively.

“No,” the American reassured him, “it was platonic.”

The Hungarian was crushed.  In the Hungarian language, a plátói relationship is an unrequited one, in which the pair still pines for each other.  Quite different from common usage in English to mean a relationship devoid of romantic attraction.

So they didn’t hold hands that day or any other for a year until they discovered the misunderstanding.  All because of that single error in translation.

Fortunately, they did eventually discover the error, and last I heard, they were getting married.


Myk Melez

Myk is a Principal Software Architect and in-house entrepreneur at Mozilla. A Mozillian since 1999, he's contributed to the Web App Developer Initiative, PluotSorbet, Open Web Apps, Firefox OS Simulator, Jetpack, Raindrop, Snowl, Personas, Firefox, Thunderbird, and Bugzilla. He's just a cook. He's all out of bubblegum.


One thought on “The Importance of Good Translation

  1. I like it very much, I am the owner for a translation company in Lebanon (Middle east) and i think i will tell this story to my clients. thank you

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