The Pope Is Dope and Other Funny Mistranslations

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Oh boy, we can’t imagine what it’s like in the Primicias Ya newsroom today. We can only sympathise at their gaffe in mistranslating Kim Kardashian’s tweet. They accidentally mistranslated it from ‘the Pope is dope’ into ‘THE POPE IS DRUGS’ and caused a mini poo-storm in Argentina. But they’re not the only ones to have done it over the years. In fact almost all of the examples listed are far worse. Check out these funny mistranslations and let us know if you have any more to add to the list.

Jimmy Carter’s Pole Dancing

Jimmy Carter wants to do what to Poles? This is part of our funny mistranslations series
Credit: People

Oh boy. During the president’s 1977 visit to Poland, he became of the butt of a few jokes as a consequence of some pretty awful and pretty funny mistranslations. I mean, he was known for being a pretty skilled orator, but we can’t vouch for his ability in employing the right people. Because the interpreter he decided to employ during his tour would come back to haunt him. In a stitch-up of untold magnitudes he was accused of expressing sexual desires for the Polish people…He was translated as saying that he was happy to “grasp at the Polish people’s private parts”/”I want the Polish people carnally”. He actually said he wanted to find out about the population’s desires for the future. No innuendo intended. In your endo.

The Chances of Anything Coming From Mars

Mars canals? This is part of our funny mistranslations series

This one is pretty damn spectacular. In 1877, Italian astronomer Giovanni Virginio Schiaparelli began his quest to map Mars. He labelled the different parts ‘seas’ and ‘continents’ and others ‘canali’ or channels. In a big slice of bad luck, his peers translated canali as canals, which gave credence to the idea that there was an intelligent life form on Mars that was skilled with excavation. That’s not where it ends, as American astronomer Percival Lowell spent a year mapping these canals, and even published three books about the so-called brilliant race of engineers. These days, though, astronomers agree that there has never been canals on Mars; according to Nasa, “The network of crisscrossing lines covering the surface of Mars was only a product of the human tendency to see patterns, even when patterns do not exist. When looking at a faint group of dark smudges, the eye tends to connect them with straight lines.”

Sorry, You Do What To Horses?

Joseph Luns did what? This is part of our funny mistranslations series

While we can’t wholly confirm the veracity of this one, it’s too good not to mention. It features another US President, this time it’s JFK’s turn, and we’ll focus on his meeting with the Dutch Foreign Minister Joseph Luns. The fateful meeting took place on April 10, 1961, a day JFK would probably never forget. Poor guy. Apparently when Kennedy asked Luns about his pastimes and hobbies the Dutchman said, “I fok horses.” Apparently in Dutch ‘fok’ means to ‘breed ‘(horses). What makes it even sweeter is that when Kennedy asked for clarification he said, “pardon?” to which Luns replied with, “Yes, paarden!” to confirm he was talking about horses. Haha. Fokking great.

I’m Horny, Horny, Horny, Horny

Did Moses have horns? One of a few funny mistranslations

Oh St. Jerome. You’ll eternally be remembered as the patron saint of funny mistranslations. The saint spent most of his life learning Hebrew so he could translate the Old Testament into Latin. But upon doing so he accidentally mistranslated a key fact about Moses’s time in the Sinai. Instead of translating the word ‘karan’ to mean Moses had radiance, he thought the word he was translating was ‘keren’ which said that Moses was horned. This resulted in some pretty odd sculptures being made and a persistent false stereotype about Jews being horned people. Oops.


If you enjoyed that article on funny mistranslations then why not check out other articles on RiseFeed, including 5 Signs That The Kardashians Might Be in The Illuminati and Gwen Stefani Looks Amazing at 45.