Making a photo
You are on vacation and would love to have a picture to remember it by. You walk up to a stranger, hand them your camera, and ask:
Can you make a photo of me?
If they took you literally, most people couldn’t. Asking someone to make something is asking them to create it, and creating a photo requires paper, chemicals, and a very special set of skills. It is unlikely the person you asked has all of these.
The German “ein Foto/Video machen” translates to “taking a picture/video”.
The mistranslation is tricky, because it affects both directions. Bear with me, but: Germany’s Next Top Model.
My girlfriend was watching the show while I was minding my own business, which consisted mainly of me not watching Germany’s Next Top Model. On the show, one of the contestants proclaimed:
Heidi Klum nimmt meine Fotos!
Not watching the screen, I pictured a young woman holding photos. I assumed Heidi walked up to her and grabbed them out of her hand, leaving the contestant sad and without photos. But she didn’t sound sad. She sounded excited.
Her accent gave away that she was not born in Germany. Applying what we learned today, we now know what she wanted to say:
Heidi Klum is taking my pictures!
You see, Heidi was the photographer. She wasn’t taking anyone’s pictures away from them, she was taking taking pictures of them. We ran into the same mistranslation, but translating to German rather than from it.
You can take a photo, take a break, take a shower, or take a test, and none of them mean you are stealing something.
What else can you “take” that does not translate to “nehmen”? Tweet it to me at @domhabersack and help me grow my collection!
All lessons in this course
Making a photo
Even if you translate each individual word in a sentence correctly, the resulting translation can still be off.Read full lesson