Spot the difference

Can you spot the difference between the following two Urdu words?

the Urdu words for donkey and cushion

If your house was on fire and you had to jump out of the window, which of the above would you prefer to land on?

One of these words means cushion (gadda), the other donkey (gadha), and they got mixed up in the Urdu translation of a fire safety leaflet that was produced in Scotland, according to Translation is an Art. The English text said “Never jump straight out of a window. Lower yourself on to cushions”, while the Urdu translation said “Never jump out of a window straight. Put yourself on a donkey.”

According to the dictionary on, gadda actually means mattress, rather than cushion.

This entry was posted in Language, Translation.

6 Responses to Spot the difference

  1. demondoll says:


    The word on the left means gadda (cushion/mattress) and the one on the right is gadha (donkey).


  2. Evans Knight says:

    theres a do chashme he in the right word, making it gadha.

  3. Joseph Staleknight says:

    I’d imagine: Donkeys being rented out at record paces due to a fire…and a mistranslation. Of course, we should be more wary of English being mistranslated into other languages.

  4. Alain Vaillancourt says:

    I may have read too much of the adventures of Lucky Luke the cowboy and his horse, Jolly Jumper (in the original French) but it seems to me there would be an advantage to jumping on a donkey in order to ride away from the fire as far as possible.

  5. AR says:

    It’s interesting to note that in Urdu (and Punjabi Shahmukhi), aspirated consonants are represented with a digraph of an unaspirated consonant and a “he do chashme”. Sindhi, on the other hand, invented new letters by changing the number of dots to represent aspirated sounds. Urdu is usually written in the Nastaliq style and when it and Persian use this script, they substitute the arabic letters kaf, heh, and yeh with keheh, he goal (and do chashme), and Farsi yeh.

    In my opinion, the arabic script is ill-suited for Urdu. Many different letters of Devanagari are represented with the same letter in Urdu. There is not much of a one-to-one correspondence between the two scripts either.

  6. Evans Knight says:

    i do agree AR. why use a new alphabet and make up aspirated consonants when a perfectly appropriate one already exists?

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