Finding laughs in translations that have lost the plot

October 29th, 2015 by Melynie Yoneda

Move over Google Translate; Orikaeshi Honyaku is here with questionable translations that are tickling the funny bone of the Twittersphere.

Orikaeshi Honyaku (折り返し翻訳) can roughly be translated to “folded up translation.” The Orikaeshi Honyaku Dictionary site boasts the catchphrase “from Japanese to Japanese.” After inputting any Japanese phrase and hitting the search button, the dictionary proceeds to translate the phrase first into English, then into Dutch, then Italian, and finally back into Japanese.

The news of the website has spread rapidly through social media, prompting users to input lines from their favorite TV shows, old Japanese sayings and even their innermost desires.

The website encourages visitors to share the “before” and “after” directly with their Twitter followers. Users are eager to share their creation with the hashtag #折り返し翻訳.

There is no science to the madness of Orikaeshi Honyaku, but the results, while rarely accurate, are often hilarious.

“I can’t finish my report” → “There is no report”

“Go! Go! Go! Go! Go!” → “Windows 7! Windows 7! Windows 7! Windows 7! Windows 7!”

“I’ll eat it even if it’s gone bad” → “This food was brought up spoiled”

“I don’t want to work for the rest of my life” → “I want to work forever”

“It’s my turn!” → “That is up to me!”

Plugging in Japanese phrases that are hard to translate to begin with produced similar results. よろしくお願いします, which roughly means “Please take care of me,” becomes ありがとう (thank you), and 頑張ります, which is something like “I’ll do my best,” is simplified to 良い (good). My personal favorite is お世話になります, a phrase that means something along the lines of “Thank you you for your kindness” or “I’m happy to be working with you,” which becomes — very roughly — ”I tried differently” when put through the system.

Additionally there are a couple other interesting bugs: a search for the translation of any emoji will return a poop emoji, and typing in a famous anime title like “Angel Beats” will usually translate it into the title of a rival show.

No doubt Orikaeshi Honyaku serves to highlight the weaknesses of machine translation, but for sheer entertainment value, some things are better lost in translation.

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