Translation Blunders Are No Joke

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Translation blunders have long been a source of amusement to consumer targets around the world. While these mistakes often make consumers giggle or even blush, they are anything but funny to the companies that lose credibility, respect or business as a result of an incorrect translation or cultural misstep.

The worst offenders are the companies whose slogans appear to have been translated directly from a dictionary by someone who clearly does not speak the language. Frank Perdue’s famous slogan “It takes a tough man to make a tender chicken” was plastered on billboards across Mexico in a translation that amounted to “It takes a hard man to make a chicken affectionate.”

Even when the translation is correct, it is important to remember that certain words may have connotations in one culture that they do not have in another. In England, a Swedish vacuum cleaner company used the slogan “Nothing sucks like an Electrolux.” In the United States, where “sucks” has become a trendy word for something that is bad or of poor quality, this would not go over very well.

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Jiri Stejskal
CETRA Language Solutions