Now, this title doesn’t make any sense, does it?
Actually, it’s a literal translation of the Serbian phrase: “Prevedi me na drugu stranu ulice”, which means “Walk me across the street”. This is the line we cool kids use in Serbia when a person makes an obvious mistranslation of the kind. My colleagues and I feel a special kind of resentment towards literal translations as well as bad translations in general. We feel it’s our sacred linguistic duty to kick up a fuss about the subject as often as we can, but always try to find just the right way to do it.
Back to the title. If one makes a dry statement like “May I point out that your translation is incorrect”, people would probably think of him or her as a first-class nerd, but when you add this kind of witty comic relief you can actually score a few social points and fight crimes against language at the same time.
I’m not some kind of language purist or anything - when it comes to using foreign words for a denotation that has no appropriate expression in Serbian, I’ve always been against that neither a borrower nor a lender be policy, for example. But when it comes to translating, I always say leave it to the professionals. I know lots of people who believe they are kick-ass translators just because they can watch a movie without subtitles - I can change a fuse, but that doesn’t make me Tesla, right?
I will leave you with this thought in mind - every time you translate it wrong, you make baby Charles Simic cry.
Prevedi.rs - nagging about bad translations since 2011.