Lost in Translation

Sometimes things just seem to get lost in translation. To help illustrate this point we’ve made a tool that will take any English phrase and translate it to French, German and back to English using the translation tool from BabelFish. Usually you end up with something quite different than you started with. Go ahead and try it out.

You’ll get better results if you avoid contractions and abbreviations

Phrase to Translate

Translated phrase

What we have here, is to be communicated incorrectly.

Here are some common phrases, quotes and song lyrics we’ve “translated” with this tool. See if you can guess what they are.

Did you find a funny translation of your own? Share it with us, post a comment. Oh, and you’ll be happy to know that at ReliableWriters, all of our writers live in the US and speak English as their first language.

Just to Help Drive the Point Home

Thank you to Garden Wall Publications for sharing this video in their post The LiverWorst Spoiler in the Whale Wide Word.


Filed under: Writing Resources — Tags: , , ,


  1. Ha!
    “If you come on the baby, my fire ignites.”
    “Come on baby, light my fire.”

    Comment by John — September 28, 2009 @ 9:06 pm

  2. Okay, this one has to be shared… Hint on original phrase: Butler said it.

    “Openly mine expensively I don’ t do not give anything”

    Comment by Sandra — October 2, 2009 @ 8:07 pm

  3. Ok here’s mine
    “Burn of the burn baby, Discohölle”
    burn, baby, burn, disco inferno

    Comment by michele — October 2, 2009 @ 9:14 pm

  4. This is fun!

    If at first you don’t succeed try, try, again.
    If all entrance it don’ t create attempt, attempt, still

    Comment by laura — October 3, 2009 @ 7:51 am

  5. I’m a Beatles tragic – mine was
    “One night was hard work”
    should be
    “It’s been a hard days night”
    OR Creedence
    “I see emerging badly from moon”
    should be
    I see a bad moon arising
    This was fun!

    Comment by Karen — October 3, 2009 @ 8:59 am

  6. LOL I used Kenny Rogers, “You’ve gotta know when to hold ‘em, know when to fold ‘em…”

    and this is what came out

    “They must to know, to fold if them hold know, if them” Of course I put in the whole words and still… funny!

    Comment by Natalia — October 3, 2009 @ 11:01 am

  7. What a hoot!

    Seriously though, it does prove a point!

    Comment by Dee Harrison — October 4, 2009 @ 8:36 am

  8. Okay…”he was badder than old king kong, meaner than a junk yard dog” becomes
    “it was bath that, that old King Kong of durchschnittlicheres qu’ a dog of yard waste”.
    Figure that one out!

    Comment by Robyn — October 5, 2009 @ 5:08 pm

  9. Thanks for sharing this us this great (and fun) tool. We are featuring your site on our blog today. Have a great week!

    Comment by Shirley Lund — May 17, 2010 @ 6:45 am

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