It’s All Greek To Us

Since I’m a bit of a numbers / statistics nerd, one of the more fascinating parts of blogging to me has always been watching where our incoming visitor traffic comes from (bonus: it also helps us discover new blogs to follow).

Unfortunately we won’t be following a couple of the latest sites that linked to us. Why? Because they’re written entirely in Greek. While I can read the Greek alphabet (a requirement of the fraternity I was in), reading a blog in that language is a bit of a stretch. But thanks to some suggestions from our friends on Twitter, we plugged the URLs into Google Translate to see what these sites were saying about us. Would they be kind? Would they be snarky? Turns out they were downright HILARIOUS.

The good news is that we immediately understood that they were intended to be kind (thanks guys!), but Google’s robotic translation of the language was also quite entertaining. In some cases it was just plain inaccurate- but we were laughing so hard that it didn’t matter.

For instance, this site (according to Google Translate) noted that “the Sherry and John loved passionately, and went and found an old house amid nature.” So despite trying to keep things PG around here, Google Translate clearly sees us as more of a romance novel.

Then Google decided we must be some kind of incomprehensible medical drama: “The spitoskylo apologize for diabetic shock may be caused by Glykeria this spectacle.” Hopefully our site isn’t really causing diabetic shock over in the Mediterranean. Someone would tell us if it were, right? Either way, the spitoskylo does sincerely apologize.

A day after that interesting first post, a second Greek site also mentioned us. Again, Google took some liberties when it came to translating. It starts off very complimentary: “When a couple has humor, fun, style and love of decoration…” but doesn’t end so well “…then the result can not be positive.” NOT be positive?! Where could humor, fun, style and love not end well? On our site apparently.

Maybe it has something to do with our “Terrible Do It Yourself” that they mention. We tried to double-check this one with Yahoo’s Babelfish site to see what was really said, but it just swapped “terrible” for “horribly.” Yowza! At least they went on to say our posts are “intelligent, entertaining and comprehensive” and even called us a “blog-haven for Do it yourself’ers!” Whew. It doesn’t really sound like they hate us after all.

So we’re chalking it up to a prime example of things being lost in translation and we couldn’t help but share the amusing interpretation. We’re sure you guys have some entertaining stories about times when a language barrier provided some comic relief. Do tell. Just make sure it’s in English or we might have to leave it up to Google Translate to fill us in…

PS: If you want to read the full original posts in Greek go here and here, or check out the Google translated versions here and here. And of course we sincerely thank both blogs for their amazing write-ups! We’re sorry Google didn’t do them justice but we appreciate them none the less (and even got a few laughs out of the whole thing).


  1. Begoña says

    I specially like the part where they say: “to a much love and Goutsos Goutsos couple”, no idea what it means, but sounds hillarious!

    BTW, I’m your daily visit from Segovia, Spain!!

  2. Genie says

    Oh, so funny! As a language teacher, I forbid my students to use an internet translator. It is always obvious when they do, however, as you pointed out. One of my favorite translation goofs: An English-speaking woman asks for two chicken breasts at a Latin American market. She asks for two “pechos” instead of “pechugas.” Pechos are human female breasts; pechugas are chicken breasts. :)

    • says

      It’s true! That makes this whole being pregnant thing sound so simple! Imagine just acquiring a baby (from the stork for example) instead of cooking one up for 9 months!


  3. Ann says

    OMG, that is so funny! At first I was like, what the heck, and then I started laughing when I read “to change the fuel to make new, more or less with their own hands”. I’m still laughing!

  4. says

    Hahaha! Thanks for sharing! If you guys are “Terrible Do It Yourself” then I don’t even want to know what I qualify as! Its also neat that you guys keep a full calendar of your marriage up in your yard… maybe it gives a bit of extra shade(?).

    Back a few years, my senior french class had to write a 8-10 page essay and were not allowed to use an internet translator. After reading all the submissions, our teacher asked one girl if, perchance, she had used translating software. She indignantly replied she had not but had spent many a night working very hard on her paper. Once again the teacher pressed her to be sure that she had not cheated. Haughtily she retorted that her french was very good. The teacher smirked, “that might be but I’ll never know since you handed your paper in in PORTUGESE!” caught red handed!

  5. says

    “The spitoskylo apologize for diabetic shock may be caused by Glykeria this spectacle.”

    HILARIOUS! I hope someone who knows Greek can offer the *real* translation.

    I’ve heard the English term “chest of drawers” translated as “poitrine de pantalons” in French. For those who aren’t familiar with French, “poitrine de pantalons” translates to “breast of pants”. Hmmm…kind of like “chest of drawers”, but not really…

  6. says

    Maybe the diabetic comment is an idiom that refers to you two being sweet in the RMS video? Just a thought. I’m a language person (though I don’t know Greek) and direct translation of idioms always cracks me up.

    I’m 100% sure that within an hour, someone who is fluent in Greek is going to show up and translate those pages for you. If not, I will find a student from the Classics department at UVa to do the job. :)

  7. Mercedes says

    LOL!!!..I have to admit that Google translator is a good tool but sometimes it makes funny traslations as yours!
    Here you have a funny story:
    I went with my boss to an Argentinian restaurant, here in Miami. He was trying to practice his little Spanish and he ordered his steak “medio raro”…(medium rare), but “medio raro” in Spanish is more like “a little bit weird”..the waiter gave him a “little bit weird” look :)

    Hi to Begoña from Segovia, I am from Spain too, but I currently live in Miami!!!

  8. Wilma says

    I was an exchange student in Argentina for a year, so I’ve got a couple of lost-in-translation stories.

    In the city where I lived, there was a Swedish exchange student who spoke English well but would always ask me “How much is the clock?” as well as “would you borrow me five pesos?”

    Swedes also use lots of English in their slang; when something is good they’ll say “fat nice” as well as “hell in eggs.” Neither of them made much sense to me when they were explained to me.

    Also, there’s a saying “It’s not the fart that kills, it’s the smell.” This works because in Swedish fart means speed/velocity and smell means impact.

    (This one was explained by my friend first, but recently I found this fun little video called “Simple Swedish” which is pretty funny and goes along the same lines

    Before going on exchange to Argentina I spoke (or so I thought) Spanish as my mom is from Mexico. Well, one day I was standing in the kitchen washing dishes when my host brother came in and asked me what I was doing. When I answered “Lavando los trastes” he about died laughing. Turns out “trastes” is a semi-inapropriate word for “rear end”… never again did I make that mistake.

    And in case that’s not enough for you, here’s an article from the Economist that asks what is the hardest language.

    PS – Sorry about the lengthy comment and semi-off topic links, but this is a subject that totally fasinates me.

  9. says

    When I started my masters in theology, my advisor asked me if I was gonig to take Greek or Hebrew. I asked why I would want to do that. He said so that I could read the bible in its original language. I said, “Uhhhhh, don’t people get paid to translate that stuff?”

    Needless to say, I will be investing in a good translating system. Because … it’s all Greek (and Hebrew) to me!!

  10. Nikki Scully says

    Also a language teacher and this is absolutely hilarious. I’m sure we could all share stories of our embarassing language goofs!

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