How bad translation software and an ambiguous ideogram blazoned the f-word all over China.
But when I checked the 1877 translation against the original my heart sank. It was garbage. On almost every page the English translator, whoever he, or she, was (their name is not recorded), collapsed Verne's actual dialogue into a condensed summary, missed out sentences or whole paragraphs. She or he messed up the technical aspects of the book. She or he was evidently much more anti-Semitic than Verne, and tended to translate what were in the original fairly neutral phrases such as "...said Isaac Hakkabut" with idioms such as "...said the repulsive old Jew." And at one point in the novel she or he simply omitted an entire chapter (number 30) - quite a long one, too - presumably because she or he wasn't interested in, or couldn't be bothered to, turn it into English.
Entertaining transcript of a speech on the perils of translation, though not without errors of its own.
[W]hen NYU graduate student Mohammed Yousry took on the job of translating Arabic for lawyers representing Sheik Omar Abdel Rahman, the blind Egyptian cleric convicted of conspiring to bomb several bridges and tunnels around Manhattan, Yousry agreed, like any good translator, to follow his lawyers' lead. For doing his job, he now faces the possibility of twenty years in prison as a supporter of terrorism.
When Blanche Knopf bought the book on a trip to France, she was under the impression that it was "a modern-day sex manual" ... [The translator] knew French only from his years as a student at Boston Latin School and Harvard, and had no training in philosophy -- certainly not in the new movement known as existentialism, of which Beauvoir was an adherent.