Computer books and sloppy translations

In Barcelona, Spain, the Librería Hispano Americana is a small bookstore in front of the University of Barcelona (Plaza Universidad). They devote half the space to computer books, and many are in their English edition. Sadly, the bookstore’s policy is to sell the original language edition if there is not a translation, and if one is availabe, they sell it instead of the original one.

Of course, technical matters are easier than poetry for what concerns translations, but many Spanish publishers don’t care their work, and many many Spanish editions of English books are very bad, at least computer books. So, I prefer non-translated books, but when a Spanish edition is already available I have only two choices: order a copy in internet and wait for it to come to me, or hope that the Spanish edition that I have in my hands now is better than I think.

For High Performance MySQL (2nd edition), by Baron Schwartz et al. I couldn’t wait no more and bought the Spanish edition MySQL Avanzado, from Anaya. Sadly, not an exception to the rule of sloppy translations.



  • High Performance MySQL
  • MySQL Avanzado

It should be “MySQL de altas prestaciones“, but they say “Advanced MySQL”, which is a pale mirror of the original.



  • High Performance MySQL teaches you how to build fast, reliable systems with MySQL.
  • Esta obra le enseña a crear rápidamente sistemas fiables con MySQL.

It should be “Esta obra le enseña a crear sistemas rápidos y fiables con MySQL“, but they say “High Performance MySQL teaches you how to fast build reliable systems with MySQL.”


  • High Performance MySQL teaches you advanced techniques in depth so…
  • Aprenderá las técnicas avanzadas para…

It should be “Aprenderá en profundidad las técnicas avanzadas para…” but they say “High Performance MySQL teaches you advanced techniques so…”


  • You’ll learn how to design schemas, indexes, queries, and advanced MySQL features for maximum performance.
  • Diseñará esquemas, índices, consultas y opciones de MySQL avanzadas para obtener el máximo rendimiento.

It should be “Diseñará esquemas, índices, consultas y características avanzadas de MySQL para obtener el máximo rendimiento.“, but they say “You’ll learn how to design schemas, indexes, queries, and advanced MySQL options for maximum performance.” It’s wrong because you can configure options and design features, but if you can configure features (which are options, in this case) you certainly cannot design options (which in MySQL, from a user perspective, are designed a priori).

Now some technical expressions.

Wrong, a technical expression exists

  • original: failover
  • translation: procedimientos contra fallos
  • should be: recuperación de fallos
  • instead of: methods againts failures

Wrong, incomprehensible

  • original: benchmarking
  • translation: pruebas de medidas
  • should be: medición de prestaciones
  • instead of: tests of measures

Wrong, specific for generic

  • original: features
  • translation: opciones
  • should be: características
  • instead of: options

Wrong, very wrong

  • original: stored procedures
  • translation: procedimientos de almacenamiento
  • should be: procedimientos almacenados
  • instead of: storing procedures

Wrong, a technical expression exists

  • original: triggers
  • translation: activadores
  • should be: disparadores
  • instead of: activators

Remember that all of the above is outside the book, front and back cover.

And now another example of a bad translation: The quote by Michael Widenius on the back side:

  • I recommend this book both for new users of MySQL who have played with the server a little and now are ready to write their first real applications, and for experienced users who already have well-tuned MySQL-based applications but need to get a little more out of them.
  • Recomiendo este libro tanto a los nuevos usuarios de MySQL que ya han tenido algún contacto con los servidores y ahora quieren aprender a escribir su primera aplicación real, como a los usuarios experimentados que ya conocen las aplicaciones basadas en MySQL pero que necesitan obtener algo más de ellas.

Here the original developer of MySQL compares “played with” to “real”, and “well-tuned” to “little more”, and both comparisons between them for belonging to the same sentence, so also “new users” is compared to “experienced users”, resulting in a beautiful symmetry.

The translation pales, as usual: “have played with” is much more expressive than “han tenido algún contacto“, and “already have well-tuned applications” is so much more expressive than “ya conocen las aplicaciones” that the symmetry is broken, as if “well-tuned” vanished.

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