A few funny mistranslations have already been discussed in a previous article, but luckily, there are many more worth mentioning. Here are four more funny mistranslations that were spotted in the Hungarian dubbing of the popular American sitcom; Friends.
Disclaimer (again): Translation is not easy. I do not intend to scorn the work of people who worked hard on the Hungarian dubbing, so that everyone could enjoy the show. But let’s face it, these are obvious mistranslations, and regardless of why they turned out the way they did, they are hilarious.
Same word, different meanings
In season 9, episode 6, Ross and Rachel are trying to find a new nanny to look after their baby, and they are interviewing a lady who is applying for the job. When they say their goodbyes:
- Rachel: “Thank you so much for coming, it was really nice to meet you and we will call you.”
- Nanny: “Oh, you know, wait. I do have one question: Do you guys do random drug testing? … If you do, I’m gonna need three days’ notice.”
Which is not something you would want to hear from the person whose job would be to take care of your infant child while you are not at home.
The joke is completely lost in the Hungarian translation.
- Rachel: “Nagyon köszönjük, hogy eljött hozzánk. Örülök, hogy megismerhettük és jelentkezünk.”
- Nanny: “Oh, várjunk egy percet. Mégiscsak volna egy kérdésem: Részt vesznek valamilyen gyógyszerkísérletben? … Ha mégis előfordulna, 3 nappal előtte szóljanak.” [ Wait a second. I do have one question: do you guys take part in some kind of drug experiment? If so, let me know 3 days before.]
The viewer cannot understand how drug experiments are relevant in this scene, and why would Ross and Rachel take part in one. Drug can, of course, mean both pharmaceutical drugs and narcotics. However, there are two separate words for these in Hungarian: gyógyszer (pharmaceutical drug) and drog (narcotics). Seems that translators decided to go with the wrong one and missed big time.
Capricorns and unicorns
In season 5, episode 19, the whole gang is watching a film Joey is supposed to appear in. Joey’s grandmother (who does not speak English) is also there to see her grandson on TV. However, Joey’s scene was cut out, so he tries to lie about it.
- Joey: (point to the screen) “There I am!”
- Joey’s grandmother: “No, Sam Waterston! Crimes and Misdemeanors, Capricorn One.”
- Chandler: “She doesn’t know hello, but she knows Capricorn One.”
The translators had a hard time with figuring out what “Capricorn One” was. If you understand the scene, it is obvious that the grandmother lists films Sam Waterston starred in, proving that she knows that actor very well, thus, he cannot be Joey. The Hungarian translation goes like this:
- Joey: “Ott vagyok!”
- Joey’s grandmother: “Nem, Sam Waterston! A halálos bűn, az egyszervú!” [No, Sam Waterston! Deathly crime, the unicorn!]
- Chandler: “Azt nem tudja, hogy hello, de azt tudja, hogy egyszarvú.”
Capricorn One is an American thriller movie which is Földi Űrutazás in Hungarian. However, here Capricorn One became the unicorn, probably because the two words (capricorn-unicorn)…sound similar? This word cannot be more out of context. Not to mention that Crimes and Misdemeanors is Bűnök és Vétkek in Hungarian and not Deathly Crimes, but at least this translation meant something close to the original, and fits into context. Unicorn on the other hand…?
Homophones strike again
In season 2, episode 14, Chandler and Joey are in their apartment, and Chandler throws a basketball at Joey who does not catch it, and the ball breaks a lamp.
- Chandler: “OK, that’s my bad!”
Which is a saying meaning that oh, it is my fault (that the lamp broke). Translators probably heard something else:
- Chandler: “Oké, az az én ágyam.” [Ok, it is my bed.]
I understand that “bad” and “bed” sound similar, but come on. You break a lamp and then you say: it is my bed? What? You can watch the scene from 3:30.
In the same episode, Ross is jealous of a guy who is flirting with Rachel, so he goes up to them and scares the guy away. When the man is gone, Ross looks at Rachel and says proudly:
- Ross: “You’re welcome!”
As in English, “welcome” can mean 2 things in Hungarian:
- A form of greeting.
- As a reply to “thank you”. You’re welcome as: oh, it was nothing.
Well, in this particular scene welcome has the second meaning. Ross says “you’re welcome” because Rachel should be thankful for Ross for scaring the other guy away. However, the Hungarian translation used the first meaning:
- Ross: “Isten Hozott!” [which is a Hungarian greeting, word for word: God brought you here!]
This is really out of context for the scene, as Ross, Rachel and the guy have been talking for a while, why would Ross greet Rachel after that? Does not make any sense.
Featured image: Facebook.com/friends.tv/