SpellCheck 1: Translator 0

I have done some translation and interpretation over the years, and I sympathize when good translation goes bad. “There but for the grace” and so on. That said . . .

I skimmed through one of those glossy, small tourist guides to Germany the other day. It’s a nice little book in that it covers more than just Frankfurt, Berlin and Bavaria, and the text and captions are pretty decent. But one paragraph sent me into a fit of laughter, because I knew exactly what had happened. The topic was the farming products of the Black Forest and adjacent Rhine Valley. The list of crops included “emmer, unicorn, and spelt.”  The grain is Einkorn, a type of wheat. Something (or someone) read it as Einhorn, or “unicorn.” And either no-one double-checked the translation, or the translator had been ordered not to amend or correct the original manuscript.

So, alas, no fields of wildflowers and unicorns blow in the breezes off the western slopes of the Black Forest.

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