Utterly Lost in Translation

Even more misadventures in English abroad

The third in the Lost in Translation series. When do I get the Nobel prize for services to linguistics?

Utterly Lost in Translation

Even more misadventures in English abroad

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And still they come ... Favourites this time? The electrical wire cutters from China: ‘Before use, please read this instruction for god's sake'. The menu item in Italy: ‘Overcooked to the Chianti'. The pool sign in Greece: ‘Each swimmer before coming to the space of swimming pool owes to go to the bathroom for urination and then to have a bath of cleaness.' Important lessons for life, I trust you'll agree.


‘The world's worst English language blunders revealed ... some of the very best language howlers.' The Mirror

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Content

Rubik's Cube

A Rubik’s cube has more combinations than light travels inches in a century. This is my favourite illustration of how a very small number of factors can produce an absurdly complicated situation. A silly little toy, with only three squares in each of its three dimensions. How can that get complicated? Well, as anyone who's ever tried to solve one just by guessing will tell you, it gets very complicated. The number of possible combinations is 43,252,003,274,489,856,000. Forget billions - that's 43 quintillion and change. (In fact the cube's manufacturers just said ‘billions' in their advertising, figuring that no one would know what a quintillion was. It's a billion billion.) The number of inches light travels in a century, meanwhile, is a mere 37,165,049,856,000,000,000. Or thereabouts.