The Top Ten: Misleading translations


John Rentoul
Sunday 25 January 2015 01:00 GMT
'Potpourri': A teapot that doesn't drip
'Potpourri': A teapot that doesn't drip

This one was Jeremy Thompson's idea. He offered 'In loco parentis' – 'Dad's an engine driver'; and 'Sic transit gloria mundi' – 'It was a rough crossing yesterday but it is a lovely day today.' It's always hard to capture the spirit of the original, and Alan Beattie had a slightly different version: 'After a heavy weekend, Gloria threw up in the van.'

1. 'Pas de deux'

No, I only want one, demands Hopi Sen.

2. 'Jeux sans frontières'

Juice with no bits, as drunk by Fiona Laird. I thought that was "Deus ex machina." Jeremy Thompson thought it was "Entente Cordiale" – juice for camping.

3. 'Ex officio'

I work alongside my former wife, offers Robert Wright.

4. 'Mañana'

A larger-sized fruit for the gentleman, suggests Ben Stanley.

5. 'J'y suis et j'y reste'

I am Swiss and I'm having a lie-down, says Mark Colvin.

6. 'Coup de grâce'

Lawnmower. Thanks to Jeremy Cliffe.

7. 'Pro bono'

A fan of the U2 frontman, offers Citizen Sane.

8. 'Doppelgänger'

Changes in perceiving someone as a potential criminal as they move towards and away from you. From Alan Robertson.

9. 'Potpourri'

A teapot that doesn't drip. From Mark Bassett.

10. 'Plus ça change, plus c'est la même chose'

I want my money back, and so does my mum, says Ben Stanley.

Next week: Authors in films of their books

Coming soon: Singles longer than six minutes. Send your suggestions, and ideas for future Top 10s, to

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