Date: Tue, 25 Nov 1997 03:38:15 -0500
From: Jim Crotty Monkmag[AT SYMBOL GOES HERE]AOL.COM
Subject: VERNACULAR MISHAPS
Some decent yuks.... Any other examples let me know.....
Jim Crotty, How to Talk American
1. Coors put its slogan, "Turn it loose," into Spanish, where it was
read as "Suffer from diarrhea".
2. Clairol introduced the "Mist Stick", a curling iron, into
Germany only to find out that "mist" is slang for manure. Not
too many people had use for the "manure stick".
3. Scandinavian vacuum manufacturer Electrolux used the
following in an American campaign: Nothing sucks like an Electrolux.
4. In Chinese, the Kentucky Fried Chicken slogan "finger-lickin'
good" came out as "eat your fingers off".
5. The American slogan for Salem cigarettes, "Salem-Feeling Free",
was translated into the Japanese market as "When smoking Salem,
you will feel so refreshed that your mind seems to be free and
6. When Gerber started selling baby food in Africa, they used the
same packaging as in the US, with the Caucasian baby on the
label. Later they learned that in Africa, companies routinely
put pictures on the label of what's inside, since most people
can't read English.
7. Colgate introduced a toothpaste in France called Cue, the
name of a notorious porno magazine.
8. An American T-shirt maker in Miami printed shirts for the
Spanish market which promoted the Pope's visit. Instead of
"I saw the Pope" (el Papa), the shirts read "I saw the potato"
9. In Italy, a campaign for Schweppes Tonic Water translated the name
into "Schweppes Toilet Water".
10. Pepsi's "Come alive with the Pepsi Generation" translated
into "Pepsi brings your ancestors back from the grave", in Chinese.
11. We all know about GM's Chevy Nova meaning "it won't go" in Spanish
markets, but did you know that Ford had a similar problem in
Brazil with the Pinto? Pinto was Brazilian slang for "tiny male
genitals". Ford renamed the automobile Corcel, meaning "horse".
12. Hunt-Wesson introduced Big John products in French Canada as Gros
Jos. Later they found out that in slang it means "big breasts".
13. Frank Perdue's chicken slogan, "it takes a strong man to make a
"tender chicken" was translated into Spanish as "it takes an
aroused man to make a chicken affectionate".
14. When Parker Pen marketed a ball-point pen in Mexico, its
ads were supposed to have read, "it won't leak in your pocket and
embarrass you". Instead, the company thought that the word
"embarazar" (to impregnate) meant to embarrass, so the ad read: "It
won't leak in your pocket and make you pregnant".
15. The Coca-Cola name in China was first read as "Ke-kou-ke- la",
meaning "Bite the wax tadpole" or "female horse stuffed with wax",
depending on the dialect. Coke then researched 40,000
characters to find a phonetic equivalent "ko-kou-ko-le", translating
into "happiness in the mouth".
16. In Central American Spanish, the name of the Mexican restaurant
chain "Chi-Chi's" literally means "titties."
17. Probably the most famous of all is John Kennedy's announcement to
the people of Berlin, "Ich bin ein Berliner!" JFK thought he said,
"I am a citizen of Berlin!" What he *really* said was, "I am a
jelly doughnut!" ("Berliner" is German for "jelly doughnut".)
18. The Trump Shuttle (Donald Trump's airline) caused a lot of guffaws
to traveling Brits where "Trump" is another way of saying "fart"!