When the world gets closer.

We help you see farther.

Sign up to our expressly international daily newsletter.

Enjoy unlimited access to quality journalism.

Limited time offer

Get your 30-day free trial!
This Is Not An Omelet: Belgians Try To Crack Surreal Translation Mystery
Hannah Steinkopf-Frank

In a country with three official languages, French, Dutch and German, it's inevitable that some translations are going to get scrambled. But in Jette, a small town in Belgium, a recent road sign alerted drivers of an "Omeletje." Yes, that means "omelet" in Dutch, though it seems the translator simply jumbled the Dutch word for detour: "Omleiding."

As the Brussels Times quipped, several passers-by "questioned if the sign was really pointing people towards the well-known egg dish."

Photo: JorisPoschet via Twitter

Flemish news outlet Het Nieuwsblad quoted Bernard Van Nuffel, local chief for Public Works in the town north of Brussels, who said such language mishaps often occur when construction supervisors poach bad translations from the Internet. But right from the start, he said, this story smelled rotten, as the sign also included the French word "omelette" instead of "déviation" for "detour." And Van Nuffel noted, there was no traffic detour in the area.

Is there some creative wordplay being fried up? Van Nuffel suspects the work of a mysterious artist, as a similar sign appeared a few months ago in Laeken, a Brussels suburb.

Indeed, one local commented on Twitter a reminder that the 20th-century master of surrealism René Magritte was also Belgian. What is perhaps his most famous work, The Treachery of Images, features an illustration of a pipe, with the words (in French): This is not a pipe.

So you decide: Is that an omelet or a detour? Or both?

You've reached your limit of free articles.

To read the full story, start your free trial today.

Get unlimited access. Cancel anytime.

Exclusive coverage from the world's top sources, in English for the first time.

Insights from the widest range of perspectives, languages and countries.

This Happened—December 2: The Princess Of Pop Is Born In The Deep South

On this day, proud parents in a small town in Mississippi would welcome a baby girl destined to become the Princess of Pop.

Sign up to receive This Happened straight to your inbox each day!

Keep reading...Show less

You've reached your limit of free articles.

To read the full story, start your free trial today.

Get unlimited access. Cancel anytime.

Exclusive coverage from the world's top sources, in English for the first time.

Insights from the widest range of perspectives, languages and countries.

The latest