Lost in Translation

One of the things I enjoy most about travelling is reading, or attempting to read signs.  I like trying to figure out what the signs are indicating, other times the signs just make me smile either because they are clever, or because reading the signs literally is hillarious.   For example, on the way to dinner on our first night in Madrid I saw this restaraunt:

The restaruant is called “Fatigas del Querer”.  When I saw the sign I knew enough Spanish to realize the first word meant fatigue and the last word had something to do with desire.  So when I got home I went on Google Translator, began typing and had a good laugh.  I laughed because as I typed and Google instantly translated I got this:

typed: fatigas, Google: fatigue; I was right!

typed: fatigas del, Google: fatigue of; right again!

typed: fatigas del quer, Google: fatigue of poker; HA!

typed: fatigas del querer, Google: labors of love; Holy cow, conjugation does matter.

I was proud to figure out that this shop had something to do with renting bicycles; the graphic helped 🙂

This one is great because you don’t need to speak a language to know what the place offers:

The incorrect grammar and claim of street cred on this one got me, oh, and the dog bowls, very thoughtful as there were lots of people con perros in Spain:

On the way to the Churh of the Holy Family we passed this:

which made me crave carne asada tacos from Taqueria San Jose by my house.  Then I thought, “Wait, what? A taqueria in Spain?”

In Avignon I appreciated the directness of the signage

Not exactly sure what the cow is advertising; does the place cater to, or serve cow?  Maybe I should clarify. Does it cater to cows as patrons or serve them as food?

These next two I found clever:

Must be a town with lots of mathemeticians.

Wholly unoccupied.

Interpreting the sign for this place in English rather than Spanish could steer people away from tasty treats.


Categories: France, Geography, Italy, photography, Spain, Travel | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , | 69 Comments

Post navigation

69 thoughts on “Lost in Translation

  1. Nice post, pics and comments.

    They can be almost as confusing as the road signs in rural Ireland.

    At a crossroad, the map would disagree with the street name. Then, neither would take you to either of the places the they had indicated. No wonder they drink so much Guinness.

  2. Nice pictures… 🙂 Would have loved to seem them in a slightly larger size…

  3. “Fatigas del querer” is probably a line from what it is called ‘coplas’, which are part of Spanish national music.

  4. I definitely remember these types of signs from my time in Spain. My favorites were the ones advertising buffets in English. They would say things like “Free Food: 8 euros”.

    • My favorite sign in Rome was one for “Sexy Shop”. Was the shop itself sexy?

      • That’s the Italian for “sex shop”, but there is no way to make people understand their mistake 🙂

        • I’m italian, and I understand the mistake only if I think about it because “sexy shop” is our normal way to call those shops… Maybe it’s true, the shop itself is sexy!
          But, I think I can write a cuple of books about wrong names of italian food written everywhere in the world!

  5. Great post!

  6. Very cute! Language is fun, and travelling even more so. 🙂

  7. That is great! Very amusing. Congratulations on being freshly pressed.

    Please feel free to visit my blog at http://germch55.wordpress.com for virtual tours of New York.

  8. Lovely, I enjoyed reading!
    visit my post on my travel to Greece

  9. I guess pains means bread in French. Probably the same in Spanish? Although I would think twice before entering a restaurant called ‘pains’! It is interesting, especially with European languages because you’ll guess like crazy based on how close the words are to their English counterparts! If I ever go to Beijing, I will be asking for help!
    Nice post. Congrats on being Freshly Pressed!

  10. dyefeltsool

    Cute post, I love signs when travelling too. My favourite was a “no camping” sign in downtown Vienna. What I wanted to know is who would try? Thanks for the pictures, it was a good read.
    If you want, you can check out my giveaway for an Eco Dyed Flat Crepe Silk Scarf that I made. The draw is on August 31.

  11. Fabulous.

  12. I like to see interesting signs when I travel, so I really enjoyed this post. Thanks

  13. Very nice post!!!

  14. As someone who has spoken fluent French and English my whole life, I never realized the whole pain thing until I was much older. Not that it matters but pain in French is douleur so it’s nothing like the English word!

  15. love your chosen topic and the way you tell your story. straight to the point and interesting. the signs and language, that could be lots of hilarious and surprising discoveries. i feel the connection of your subject with my own traveling experience. great job!

  16. Congrats on being FP!!

  17. Fabulous post!!

  18. Great post, I see you went to the Alhambra – beautiful place, been many times!

  19. It’s one of my favorite places; love the flowing water throughout.

  20. “Wholly unoccupied” — clever! 😉

  21. Samaritana Malinay

    Nice post! It made me smile. 🙂

  22. Nice finds! I remember well the moment on my first trip abroad when I realized all the signs around me were in a foreign language. It was an especially meaningful moment to me–an epiphany that I really was now outside of my comfort zone and one my way to new experiences and adventures. Enjoy yours!

  23. Google once translated “ville touristique” (tourist town) as “vile tourist.” Perhaps that was how the town’s inhabitants felt.

    • I noticed in Spain that many signs and notices were translated into English and German, especially in the Canary Islands, which is full of German tourists. The Hotel we stayed at said that “if I am a teacher, drinks are free” but it was only after seeing the German translation, and remembering my college Spanish that I realize they meant if I had signed up for All-inclusive, drinks would be free.

      BTW, is that a photo of the Alcazaba in your header? Did you go up the Vega Tower and see the view of the Sierra Nevada that I mention in this post:


      Wasn’t it gorgeous?

  24. FoundTravel

    Reblogged this on Found… Travel and commented:
    A fun discussion of the joys – and dangers of travel and language!

  25. Love the translations on Fatigas del Querer. I got pretty much what you did in my first attempt. Forgot those conjugation lessons!
    Great photos. Happy travels.

  26. Nice pictures. 🙂

  27. Excellent post, I have a friend over there at the moment, looks a great place to visit.
    Cheers Callie

  28. the last sign is incorrect. “Pains” is French not Spanish as you had thought and it stands for small bread rolls or bread in general.

  29. This is a fantastic blog and thanks for all of the great photos too!

  30. My brother recommended I might like this web site. He was totally right. This post truly made my day. You cann’t imagine just how much time I had spent for this information! Thanks!

  31. samokan

    makes me want to go to Spain right now. great post 🙂

  32. My last apartment in Madrid was in front of “Fatigas del querer”, which, apart from the restaurant, is the title of a popular song from a “Zarzuela”, Opera from Spain.

    I just love that area of Madrid. So many memories!

  33. Here is the song Fatigas del querer, http://www.listengo.es/song/8u685528879

    • Wow! Thank you! So glad I posted this, I never would have known the full connotation of that restaurants name!

  34. Great post :). “pains” for all i know is french, but it’s a good business ideia. I’ll start selling pains too in all sorts of fashion.

    • Yeah, I went to so many countries I got my places out of order as I was typing; got on a ‘roll’ and just went with it.

  35. It’s sooooo true about conjugation! It’s so important haha! There are other factors too like context or correct placement. I know that some French adjectives mean a completely different thing when placed either before the noun or after. Languages are tricky things!

    Great post!

    • Context is everything. As someone pointed out to me when I was confused by the “sexy shop” signs in Italy.

  36. In India, I am used to various signs that are spelled incorrectly many time….e.d. Child Bear Served Here (Chilled Beer is served here)!

  37. cookingandcats

    Some pretty funny things there.. I’m off to Germany in a few weeks, I wouldn’t mind coming across a few myself!

  38. poorwendy

    Reblogged this on poorwendy and commented:
    Ideal life.

  39. My Spanish-speaking husband thinks that maybe Pains is a direct English translation of the girl’s name “Dolores” (dolor = pain)? Either way I don’t plan on buying a sandwich there anytime soon.

Leave a Reply to GalonTrip Cancel reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

Blog at WordPress.com.

%d bloggers like this: