Category: Funny Stories

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When the American chain, Taco Bell, returned to Japan earlier this year, they opted to use Google Translate instead of hiring a Japanese translator for their website. The result? Their PR tagline, “A Legacy is Born,” translated incorrectly to “An Obsolete Program is Born.” An ingredients page that reads, “We’ve Got Nothing to Hide,” became…

This is one from the files that Ford still wishes would stay buried. Once again, you’ll see that being a billion-dollar company and using the most expensive Madison Avenue agencies to translate your material is no guarantee of success. Giant U.S. auto manufacture Ford found this out when introducing a new model in Belgium. Ford,…

You might think that most of the poor or tragic translation blunders are coming from the U.S. and going into Europe or Asia, but Swedish vacuum maker, Electrolux, learned the hard way that American consumers are just as picky when it comes to poorly thought out marketing campaigns. Since the job of a vacuum is…

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Here’s a story that may be more an urban legend than an actual blunder. General Motors had a perplexing problem, when they introduced the Chevrolet Nova in South America. Despite their best efforts, they weren’t selling many cars. They finally realized that in Spanish, “no va” means “it won’t go”. Sales improved dramatically after the…

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Backtranslation is one of the best techniques available to reduce translation errors. An Australian soft drink company discovered the value of backtranslation during the planning stages of its entry into the Hong Kong market. The company had hoped to employ its successful slogan “Baby, it’s cold inside,” but before using the translated version of the…

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When American fast food giant Kentucky Fried Chicken opened their first restaurant in Beijing in 1987, they accidentally translated KFC’s famous slogan, “Finger-lickin’ good” to “Eat Your Fingers Off!” in Chinese.

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In the early 1970’s, Pepsi-Cola introduced a new catch phrase to promote its product: “Come Alive!” Sounds good in English, but the problems “arose” (pun intended) when Pepsi took the campaign slogan overseas. In Germany the phrase meant, “Rise from the grave with Pepsi!” – In China the phrase meant, “Pepsi brings back your ancestors!”…

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A t-shirt manufacturer in Miami printed shirts in Spanish to commemorate the Pope’s visit. By referring to the Pontiff as “la papa” instead of “el Papa”, their shirts read: “I saw the potato.”