Top six translation blunders

28/03/2017 | Rebecca Twose

We have to admit, getting translation right isn’t easy. You need to be an experienced professional with the skills and knowledge to translate correctly. Otherwise, things can go disastrously wrong, as these top six translation blunders highlight perfectly.

HSBC

A few years ago, HSBC had to fork out millions to change a disastrous tagline. What started out as ‘Assume Nothing’ in English turned into ‘Do Nothing’ when translated into a number of different languages. Luckily the bank noticed their blunder early on and quickly changed their tagline.

KFC

Despite a fantastic marketing campaign in the 1970s that now means KFC is a Christmas delicacy in Japan, they got off to a rocky start in China. In the 80s their world-famous tagline ‘Finger-Lickin’ Good’ was translated to ‘Eat Your Fingers Off’. Oops.

The American Dairy Association

We all know the catchphrase ‘Got Milk’ but, over in Mexico, the infamous tagline was translated as ‘Are You Lactating?’. Which, we have to say, is just not as catchy.

Coors

Beer brand Coors went for the tagline ‘Turn It Loose’ a few years ago, which was all well and good until it was translated into Spanish. There the translation read ‘Suffer From Diarrhoea’ which definitely isn’t what you want when trying to market food or drink.

Pampers

Pampers learnt the hard way that transcreation is equally as important as translation when they took their product to Japan. While images of storks on their nappy packages worked well in the West due to the popular folklore story, in Japan parents were confused and frightened by the sight. Over there, babies are bought into the world on giant floating peaches.

The Jolly Green Giant

The Jolly Green Giant is exactly how he sounds – he’s a giant, he’s green, and he’s jolly. The mascot is supposed to be friendly, to entice kids to eat more greens. That didn’t go so well in the Middle East, where, in Arabic, The Jolly Green Giant Translated to ‘Intimidating Green Monster’.If you are looking for translation services and you want to make sure your company avoids these types of translation blunders, get in touch with us today! For more mistranslations check out our other blog here. 

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