We are developing the social individualist meta-context for the future. From the very serious to the extremely frivolous... lets see what is on the mind of the Samizdata people.

Samizdata, derived from Samizdat /n. - a system of clandestine publication of banned literature in the USSR [Russ.,= self-publishing house]

Samizdata mistranslation of the day

“Robbers perform surgery on God inside this domain (or stately home).”

– Antoine Clarke’s translation (see the comments) of the French bit of a multilingual sign warning against thieves, that I recently photoed in the Brick Lane part of London.

Usually we like to joke about how the foreigners get English wrong. So, it’s good to notice when we get one of their languages wrong.

4 comments to Samizdata mistranslation of the day

  • RW

    My favourite was the roadsign in Welsh a couple of years ago which confused Welsh speakers as its actual meaning was “out to lunch” instead of the expected “road works ahead”. Ah the joys of multilingual societies.

    As the Telegraph put it last year, “O tempora, O morays”. It should of course have been “tempura”. Or not.

  • guy herbert

    I note that the massively multilingual no smoking sign in the same post is actually inadequate to comply with the law, unless it is supposed to refer to the outside space.

    The regulations require all substantially enclosed premises that are open to the public or are workplaces, to display a sign that *must* include the words “it is against the law to smoke in these premises”.

    This makes the anti-smoking law more aggressively enforced than any other, signage everywhere not being thought necessary to forbid murder, for example. (And it isn’t the regulatory nature of the offence: a national speed limit has been in existence for about 50 years without any need to mark it on every road where it applies.)

  • Tous les organes de vos dieux sont appartiennent aux voleurs.

  • MarkE


    Would a company be covered I wonder, if it put up signs saying “it is illegal to break the law on these premises”? This is, after all, what the no smoking signs are actually saying. The only alternative interpretation is that the smoking ban is the only law that applies on such premises; everything else, although illegal elsewhere, is permitted there.