Most Photos of Badly-Translated Menus and Half-Toilets Are Not from Sochi

It's always a good time for a viral photo debunking. Today, images of menus with bad translations and badly-made toilets coming out of Sochi are not actually from the Sochi Games.

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As journalists tweet the difficulties and unpreparedness of the Sochi Olympics, it's a good time for a debunking of some of those fake viral photos. In particular, most images of menus with bad translations and badly-made toilets are not from the Sochi Games.

Let's start with the English translation of Russian menus, which, as any traveler can tell you, is often a source of humor for bad translations. Hey, languages are difficult. Just look at this menu:

That menu reads "Ice cream in the ass." "Ass.," of course, is a shortened version of "assorted" flavors, in this case referring to ice cream. Ass is also a curse word for a derrière. Get it? Hah!

But sorry Mr. Gourevitch, that is actually a joke, and not from Sochi. A quick Google search of that same photo shows it from at least June 2012 on College Humor. It also appeared in November of 2012 on Like many things online, it may be "real" but not what is seems.

That assorted/ass confusion has been the biggest joke-maker today. The photo to the right is another menu with a prominent "ass" that has been going around as well. It appeared on in October 2007, and was also picked up in BBC Russia in 2008.

While these specific photos are old, the assorted/ass translation appears to be really common. Donna Spencer of The Canadian Press tweeted this photo of her menu.

Is it real and from Sochi? Maybe! It at least does not show up in a Google image search any time before Spencer's tweet.

The same goes for this "lemonade in the ass" photo from Patrick Sandusky, a (Twitter verified) communications officer on the United States Olympic Committee.

That also does not appear in any Google image searches. (Sandusky has not yet responded to a Twitter request to clarify whether he took the photo.)

Along with the menus, journalists have been tweeting about their toilet problems, too. These should all be taken with a grain of salt, but after the double-toilet turned out to be real, this morning brought with it the dreaded half-toilet.

That photo is old, though, and likely not from Sochi. It was on Reddit in August 2013Zumlerr in October 2013, and Viralnova in November 2013. Sochi's bathroom problems have more to do with toilet paper than the toilets themselves.

To be fair, it can be difficult to separate the real from the fake. But here's a good rule of thumb: If the photo you are sharing looks blurry, like it has been downloaded and posted and downloaded again several times, it's probably a hoax. Or, at best, not as new and relevant to Sochi as you'd believe.

This article is from the archive of our partner The Wire.