¿¡Cómo?!/Totally Lost in Translation

¿Qué quiere decir? Algunas veces, a pesar de una esfuerza valiente, lo que quiere decir se pierde al ser traducido.

Cuando mi familia estaba viajando en el Perú, La Flaquita y yo encontramos este letrero en un baño en Raqchi, un sitio arqueológico. Es evidente que la persona que hizo el letrero tomó tiempo para escribir en el ordenador y se aseguró de que los márgenes fueron justificados. Lo que nunca he podido entender es cómo el escritor llegó a su traducción. Además, la palabra quizás la mas importante—”ROMPELO”—no ha sido traducida. ¿Cómo pueden los pobrecitos gringos descifrar que el letrero trata del papel higiénico y el peligro de bloquear?

I have a lot of sympathy for the person who created this sign. The Kid and I came across it posted in the public bathroom at Raqchi, an Incan archaeological site in the Cusco region of Peru. Clearly the writer took some time to type this up on the computer. (I love the block justification; that really makes it look official.) Although the writer shows some familiarity with the use of the possessive apostrophe “S,” she/he is not quite clear on personal pronouns or for that matter, how to convey a simple request. As I said, I can sympathize.

Given that the sign was posted in every bathroom stall and that it refers to “Hygienic Services,” the average tourist with little Spanish probably would assume that it has to do with use of the toilet. I once posted this sign on Facebook and solicited guesses as to its meaning. The closest interpretation came from my nephew. He happened to know that Aussies refer to toilet paper as “ticket” so he ventured, “Please be a lamb and flush the toilet.” Nice try but that was exactly the opposite of what was intended. The sign’s writer neglected to translate the most essential word; in Spanish, “rómpelo” means “break it.” So this sign warns AGAINST flushing the toilet paper.


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