Worst Translation Blunders in Business
We are all guilty of doubling up with laughter at mistranslated content; someare just downright hilarious. But as some businesses have the misfortune tofind out, mistranslations don’t just cause them to lose face and customers,they can also prove to be deadly - literally. As you are about to find out, the importance of doing your homework andaccuratelylocalizing and translatingyour content is priceless.
In 2004, a medical team from a hospital in Epinal, France, decided theywould bypass hiring a professional translation service by translatingsoftware that verified the correct dose for prostate cancer treatment ontheir own. Consequently a number of patients received massiveoverdoses of radiation and sadly four died.
Parker pens ad, “it won’t leak in your pocket and embarrass you” wasmistranslated translated for its Spanish-speaking Mexican customersinto “it won’t leak in your pocket and make you pregnant.” Instead of using the correct translation for the word embarrass they chose“embarazar” which means to make pregnant. No doubt Parker penswere the ones left embarrassed!3.When American Airlines decided to lure potential Mexican first classpassengers by promoting their campaign “Fly in leather,” they didn’trealise that the translation read “vuela en cuero” which in Spanishmeans “fly naked.”
Swedish household appliances giant, Electrolux, found itself in a picklewhen it promoted its vacuum cleaner to the US market. They assured American customers that “Nothing sucks like an Electrolux.”5.Ladies, fancy some manure on your hair? We didn’t think so, andneither did Germans when Clairol launched their Mist Stick curling iron.The company failed to realise that “Mist” in German means manure.
People in China must have thought Pepsi had branched out intoparanormal activities when its slogan promised to “bring your ancestorsback from the grave.” Needless to say, Pepsi was attempting totranslate “Come alive with the Pepsi generation.”
Coors beer slogan, “Turn it loose” went terribly wrong when theytranslated into Spanish: “Suffer from diarrhoea.”
We all know Ikea has strange names for its furniture, but it went a steptoo far when it tried to sell its “Fartfull” children’s mobile workbench inthe US. It may mean “speedy” in Swedish, but it didn’t sit too well on American parents and the company had to make a speedy removal of the item from their collection.