I missed the rest of that scene and most of the next, because I was trying to work out when that particular film had transmogrified into a sci-fi spoof. I eventually decided that the original line must have been: “...my mother-in-law is an illegal alien,” which makes a lot more sense in the context.
Inexpert translations can mar just about anything. Ever installed an app and been met with garbled on-screen instructions? It happens more often than you think, and sometimes it even happens to the more professional software houses.
|Good. No translations here.|
Which brings me to Simon’s Cat. I enjoy Simon’s Cat. At the same time, I’m not any kind of gamer, and the kind of game I favour is the sort that relies on basic problem-solving skills and little else. So when Simon’s Cat came out with a game called “Crunch Time”, it was perfect.
In this game, you have to solve puzzles to feed treats to Simon’s Cat and his friends, catch moles and rats, and do battle with vacuum cleaners and angry neighbours. It’s not exactly Fortnite, but as I said: I’m not a gamer.
Since I’m in Germany and use a phone set to German, I have the German version of the game. And I can’t help but notice that some of the translations are a little... off.
For example, one button, which is obviously labelled “Go!” in English, is translated into German as “Gehe!” Which does mean “go”, yes; but “go” in the sense of “leave this place immediately, for I grow weary of your presence”. If you want to say “go” in the sense of “commence”, the more usual translation would be: “Los!”
If I succeed in completing a level, the game announces: “Level beenden.” Well, okay: “beenden” does mean “complete”, but it’s a verb: the phrase “Level beenden” is actually the instruction “bring the level to its conclusion” or even “terminate the level”. Myself, I’d probably have translated it as “Level geschafft,” although I’d ask a native speaker for a second opinion on that.
Basically, for those of us old enough to remember it, this is eerily reminiscient of “All your base are belong to us.”
The one that prompted me to write this article, though, comes in a kind of bonus round in which you have to complete five levels without losing a life to win some in-game goodies. This round is known to the German app as “Behandeln Raubüberfall”.
Okay... so “behandeln” is a verb, and it has several different meanings, among them “cure”, “medicate”, “medically examine”, “discuss”, “highlight”. “deal with” in the sense of taking as a topic for an article, and a few others. “Raubüberfall” is the word for an armed robbery, like a hold-up or a mugging.
So... what’s this? “Discuss the armed robbery”? Except that the word order is wrong: in German, infinitives go to the end of the clause, so it would have to be “Raubüberfall behandeln”.
It took me a while, this one. Of course, “behandeln” has all those meanings connected with medicine — which can be summed up as “treat”, as in treating a patient or treating a condition. A quick sesson on Google confirms that the round is called “Treat Heist”, the “treat” here referring to the delicious treats you have to feed to the cats.
In short, it’s as if whoever was tasked with translating the game looked up “treat” in a dictionary, then looked up “heist”, and just took the first words they found and typed them in. For the record, my suggestion — subject to approval by a native speaker — would be “Leckerli-Raub”.