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I would put those blankets in a safe January 28, 2007

Posted by globalizer in Danish, Language, Translation.

Warning: nothing technical about software globalization or localization in this post.

From a short human interest story about a guide horse in today’s Politiken.dk:

Når Panda har fri fra arbejde kan hun godt lide at putte, nappe i Edies guldtæpper eller lege med legetøj.

Approximate translation (although the use of the word “putte” in this connection is rather unclear – there is no context, so it could mean any number of things, including that the horse likes to play golf, and particularly to put…):

When Panda is not working she likes to snuggle, nibble on Edie’s gold blankets or play with her toys.

I think it’s very tolerant of Edie to let her guide horse chew on her gold blankets – I would probably store such items in a safe and instead put some carpets on the floor 🙂

Hint for people who don’t speak Danish: “carpets” in Danish is “gulvtæpper”, and it is pronounced without the ‘v’ (it’s one of those very common silent letters in Danish), so a not-too-competent speller could easily be mislead into using a ‘d’ instead, since ‘d’ in this position in a word is also often silent. And the ‘d’ in ‘guld’ (“gold” in English) is indeed silent – but, the pronunciation differs from the pronunciation of ‘gulv’ (“floor” in English).


OK, in addition to being shaky when it comes to Danish spelling, Nina Cederberg (whose byline is on the story quoted above) is also not too familiar with the English language. I now found the same AP story on CNN, and here’s the corresponding sentence in the original English:

At home, where she’s not working, Panda snuggles, naps on a carpet or plays with toys.

To translate naps into nappe in Danish (which, as my suggested translation shows, has ‘nibble’ as one of the many possible meanings in English, but which definitely cannot mean ‘to nap’) is a rather egregious example of unintended undersættelse.

So this post did actually end up being about translation after all…


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