Product makes different claims in Spanish and English?

Sylvania Bug Lights. The package says, in spanish, “Luz repelente de insectos” which Babel Fish translates as “repulsive light of insects”. :slight_smile: However the english description on the same package says “Non-attracting insect light bulbs”. So it seems that the spanish description claims that the lights actually repel insects, while the english description merely claims to be “non-attracting”. Why would this be?

Maybe you shouldn’t rely on an internet translator.

Actually, this was supposed to be in GQ. Mods, please move.

Translation is seldom absolutely literal. I would note that when I checked Babelfish for this question, it took the Spanish word “nombre” – a perfectly common word that means either “name” or “noun” – and couldn’t render it into English at all.

In fact I can translate the word “repelente” into the English words “resistant” “opposing” “offensive” or “refusing” as well as “repulsive.” Under the circumstances “non-attracting” sounds pretty darn close to me.

Languages don’t just use different words to say the same thing, they often have entirely different ways of expressing the same concept. Sometimes there just plain off isn’t any way to say the same thing.

In the common vernacular, it seems okay. Even in English, insect repellent isn’t a repellent; it’s a cloak of invisibility.

I agree with the OP that ‘non-attracting’ and ‘repelling’ are markedly different claims. ‘Repelente de insetos’ is commonly used to say insect repellent in Spanish, so I don’t think there’s any misunderstanding here over what ‘repelente’ means.

I personally would not pay money for a ‘non-attracting’ insect spray.

At the Disney theme parks outside Tokyo, they have signs on ride attractions with safety warnings written in English and Japanese. In English, the signs usually say “Remain Seated” while the Japanese message translates to “Don’t stand up.”

I am reminded of the time a friend bought an espresso maker in Switzerland. The instructions in Italian said to wash after every use; in French they said to wash every few uses; and in German they said to wash occasionally. He figured that would all lead to similar behavior.

While there is surely a difference between repelling and non-attracting, in practical terms it makes little difference.

Translated from English to Spanish (at no extra charge) by the Chinese lowest bidder printer.

Babelfish is so 1990s. Try Google’s, which translates “luz repelente de insectos” as “light insect repellent”.

<insert joke about “light insects” here>

If I look at translating it the other way around, from English to Spanish, and using my brain instead of a machine… there simply isn’t a way to say “non-attracting” in Spanish that would sell anything.

Anti-bug sprays, candles, noisemakers etc are called “repelentes,” so repelente it is. Are lemonene candles called “non-attracting” in English?

“Taste great. Less filling.”

That’s precisely why I mentioned insect repellent above. Direct, literal translation between English and Spanish. From this site,:

See, there’s no repelling going on. You’re only blinding the critters; they don’t know you’re there. There’s nothing shooing them off, making them repulsed. So even though you wouldn’t buy something marketed as non-attracting insect spray, that is in fact what you’re buying.

I will agree that “repelente” is not a fair translation of “non-attracting”. “Repelente” does imply repelling, actually chasing them away, not just not attracting them.

As for the legal ramifications, I got nothing.

It just boils down to money, because there is a difference between how much you have to pay for a translation and how much you pay for an interpretation.

Someone who translates things does just that; turns words from one language into another. An interpreter not only gives you the words in the new language, but puts them in the vernacular of the native speaker, so they are not only understood by listeners/readers of the new language version, but that they sound natural to them too.

That’s why interpreters get paid more money than translators.

This isn’t even close to the truth. They both try to give consideration to the destination language. An interpreter is a “live” translator, i.e, spoken speech. Translators deal with written words.

You must not use insect repellent much. Because that is exactly and only what DEET does. Flying insect pests locate victims by smelling carbon dioxide. DEET deadens their sense of smell so they keep on flying by. But it does not repel them.

While we’re here … what does repel insects?

For instance, dogs hate the smell of ammonia, and steer clear. Humans will steer clear of strong sulphurous odors when left to their own devices. How about bugs?