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Famous Translation Mistakes

 

 

Here are some famous mistakes that made headlines. You can laugh - but only because it's not you, your company or brand at stake. Enjoy! 

 

  • The American Dairy Association. Original: "Got Milk". Translation: "Are You Lactating?" in Mexico

 

  • Clairol  Deciding not to hire a professional business translator is a risky strategy, as hair company Clairol proved. When launching a new curling iron called the Mist Stick in Germany it ran into a problem. While the word mist was translated just fine, stick somehow became manure, which failed to generate the right kind of buzz. Women were never going to put anything near their hair that had the word manure in it.

 

  • Braniff International translated a slogan touting its finely upholstered seats "Fly in Leather" into Spanish as "Fly Naked." laugh

 

  • An Italian brand of mineral water called Traficante was set up for sure failure in the Spanish market because of what the translation means: drug dealer! wink

 

  • On July 27, 1945, the U.S. issued the Potsdam Declaration demanding Japan's surrender. Prime Minister Suzuki responded by using the word "mokusatsu," which literally means "to kill with silence." Depending on the context, that can mean anything from "no comment" to "Ignore with contempt." The U.S. government went with the latter translation influencing President Harry S. Truman's decision to order the atomic bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki

 

 

This page is regularly updated. Please visit again to learn more interesting stories and examples. Or if you would like to learn more about how to avoid them and about translation industry in general, give us a call, we'll be always happy to help you smiley

To your success!