Translation Bloopers

mistakeMuch of the Western vocabulary comes from Latin and Greek origin; therefore, many words may look similar in several languages, but have completely different meanings. This can be extremely misleading.

A clear understanding of the context is vital to a native sounding translation!

  • Outside a Paris dress shop: “Dresses for street walking.”
  • In an advertisement by a Hong Kong dentist: “Teeth extracted by the latest Methodists”
  • When translated into Chinese, the Kentucky Fried Chicken slogan “finger-lickin’ good” came out as “eat your fingers off”
  • Denmark: in a Copenhagen airline ticket office: “We take your bags and send them in all directions”
  • In a Japanese hotel: “You are invited to take advantage of the chambermaid”
  • Italian/Italy: In a Rome laundry: “Ladies, leave your clothes here and spend the afternoon having a good time.”
  • A well-known example: Pepsi wanted to translate their latest slogan to increase sales in China. “Come Alive with the Pepsi Generation” ended up being introduced to Chinese consumers as “Pepsi will Bring your Ancestors back from the Dead”!

When it is helpful to have a translator that is familiar with the culture,customs, people and current with the latest trends of the country:
Colgate introduced a toothpaste in France called Cue, the name of a notorious porno mag.

Ford had a problem in Brazil when the Pinto flopped. The company found out that Pinto was Brazilian slang for “tiny male genitals”. Ford pried all the nameplates off and substituted Corcel, which means horse.