Funny language subtleties

Many large corporations strive to occupy as many foreign markets as possible. Facing numerous obstacles, the directors of those corporations often forget two insignificant ‘details’: language and cultural differences. What does this lead to? Read below and have fun.

  • A Scandinavian manufacturer of the vacuum cleaner Electrolux used the following slogan in an advertisement intended for the US market: ‘Nothing sucks like an Electrolux’ (in modern English the word suck has two meanings, one of which is used in colloquial American English to say that you dislike something very much or think something is very bad. The company Electrolux, however, wanted to say that its vacuum cleaners are the best cleaners in the world.
  • The title of the most popular beverage in the world Coca-Cola in China was initially translated as Ke-kou-ke-la. After thousands of advertising booklets were published, it turned out that in Chinese this phrase means ‘bite a wax tadpole’ or in another dialect it means – ‘a wax-filled mare’. The company had to study over 40,000 Chinese hieroglyphics until they managed to find a phonetic equivalent to ‘ko-kou-ko-le’, the approximate meaning of which is ‘blessing in the mouth’.
  • In Taiwan, an advertising slogan for Pepsi, which means ‘Come alive with the Pepsi Generation, was translated as ‘Pepsi will summon your ancestors from the dead’.
  • Again in China, the slogan of Kentucky Fried Chicken ‘finger-lickin’ good’ was translated as ‘bite your fingers’.
  • An advertising slogan for American cigarettes Salem – ‘Salem – Feeling Free’ in the Japanese market was ‘presented’ as follows: ‘Smoking Salem will make you feel so fresh as a nut with an empty pot instead your head’.
  • When Chevrolet Nova was introduced in South America, its manufacturer General Motors had probably not known that the expression ‘nova’ in the Spanish language means ‘will not go’. Later, this model was presented in the Spanish-speaking market as Caribe.
  • The world-known company Ford faced a similar problem in Brazil with the failure of Ford Pinto sales. It appeared that the word ‘pinto’ meant ‘small male sexual organs’. The company was forced to remove all signs from manufactured cars and replace them with the word Corcel, which means ‘a horse’.
  • One of the advertisements for pens manufactured by Parker Pen was meant to say: ‘It won’t leak in your pocket and embarrass you’. However, Spanish translators misused similarly spelled words and the advertisement was released saying: ‘It won’t leak in your pocket and make you pregnant’.
  • One American manufacturer produced t-shirts for Spaniards advertising the Pope’s upcoming visit. However, instead of saying ‘I have seen the Pope’, the Spanish inscription on T-shirts said ‘I have met a potato’.
  • The tomato processing company Hunt-Wesson launched the production of the product Gros Jos targeted for French speaking residents in Canada. The product was named after its American analogue Big John. However, it later turned out that ‘gros jos’ was a slang expression meaning big breasts. Nevertheless, the popularity of the product did not suffer despite not changing the title.
  • In France, Colgate named its toothpaste ‘Cue’, i.e. after a notoriously known porno magazine.
  • In Italy, an advertising campaign for Schweppes Tonic Water was once translated as ‘Schweppes Toilet Water’.
  • When the second largest Japanese tourism company launched their services in English speaking countries, its office was soon flooded with clients searching for non-traditional sexual relationships. Having identified the reason of such new activities, the owners of Kinki Nippon Tourist Company immediately changed the title of the company (‘Kinky’ in English means ‘a freak’).

Thus, if you need a really good translation, contact us!

When visiting Lithuania, native speakers of English, having read our signboards or restaurant menus written in English, usually smile slightly. They even have a special word for such language usage – ‘Baltish’. However, Lithuanian translations usually don’t look so bad compared to other foreign countries. These spotted signboards will make you laugh indeed:

  • In a Tokyo hotel: Is forbidden to steal hotel towels please. If you are not a person to do such thing is please not to read notice.
  • In the hall of a Bucharest hotel: The lift is being fixed for the next day. During that time we regret that you will be unbearable.
  • In an elevator in Leipzig: Do not enter the lift backwards, and only when lit up.
  • In a hotel elevator in Belgrade: To move the cabin, push button for wishing floor. If the cabin should enter more persons, each one should press a number of wishing floor. Driving is then going alphabetically by national order.
  • In a hotel elevator in Paris: Please leave your values at the front desk.
  • In a hotel in Athens: Visitors are expected to complain at the office between the hours of 9 and 11 a.m. daily.
  • In a hotel in Slovenia: The flattening of underwear with pleasure is the job of the chambermaid.
  • In a hotel in Japan: You are invited to take advantage of the chambermaid.
  • In a Moscow hotel opposite an Orthodox Church: You are welcome to visit the cemetery where famous Russian and Soviet composers, artists, and writers are buried daily except Thursday.
  • In an Austria hotel for skiers: Not to perambulate the corridors in the hours of repose in the boots of ascension.
  • From a Swiss restaurant menu: Our wines leave you nothing to hope for.
  • From a Polish restaurant menu: Salad a firm’s own make; limpid red beet soup with cheesy dumplings in the form of a finger; roasted duck let loose; beef rashers beaten up in the country people’s fashion.
  • Signboard on the entrance to a tailor’s office in Hong Kong; Ladies may have a fit upstairs.
  • In a laundry in Bangkok: Drop your trousers here for best results.
  • O a Paris dress showcase: Dresses for street walking.
  • In a tailor’s shop: Order your summers suit. Because is big rush we will execute customers in strict rotation.
  • An extract from a Moscow magazine “The Soviet Weekly”: There will be a Moscow Exhibition of Arts by 15,000 SovietRepublic painters and sculptors. These were executed over the past two years.
  • In a Zurich hotel: Because of the impropriety of entertaining guests of the opposite sex in the bedroom, it is suggested that the lobby be used for this purpose.
  • The advertising of a one Hong Kong dentist: Teeth extracted by the latest Methodists.
  • In a laundry in Rome: Ladies, leave your clothes here and spend the afternoon having a good time.
  • In a tourism agency in Czech Republic: Take one of our horse-driven city tours – we guarantee no miscarriages.
  • In a coffee-bar in Swiss mountains: Special today – no ice cream.
  • In a temple in Bangkok: It is forbidden to enter a woman even a foreigner if dressed as a man.
  • In a Tokyo bar: Special cocktails for the ladies with nuts.
  • In a plane ticket office in Copenhagen: We take your bags and send them in all directions.
  • A signboard on a hotel room door in Moscow: If this is your first visit to the USSR, you are welcome to it.
  • A cocktail bar in Norway: Ladies are requested not to have children in the bar.
  • In the Budapest zoo: Please do not feed the animals. If you have any suitable food, give it to the guard on duty.
  • Signboard on door of doctor’s office in Italy: Specialist in women and other diseases.
  • In a hotel in Acapulco: The manager has personally passed all the water served here.
  • In a shop in Tokyo: Our nylons cost more than common, but you’ll find they are best in the long run.
  • Air conditioner user instructions (in a hotel room in Japan): Cooles and Heates: If you want just condition of warm in your room, please control yourself.
  • In a leaflet of Tokyo car rent: When passenger of foot heave in sight, tootle the horn. Trumpet him melodiously at first, but if he still obstacles your passage then tootle him with vigour.
  • Two signs next to the entrance of a Moscow shop:

– English well talking.
– Here speeching American.
– An advert on a Malaga highway: Locals for sale or rent.
– In a hotel in Brugge (Belgium): Bathroom light operates with motion sensor. Turns off approx. 15 minutes after last registered motion.

Here are some messages spotted on church message board:

  1. Don’t let worry kill you – let the church help.
  2. Thursday night – Potluck supper. Prayer and medication to follow.
  3. Remember in prayer the many who are sick of our church and community. Smile at someone who is hard to love. Say ‘hell’ to someone who doesn’t care much about you.
  4. For those of you who have children and don’t know it, we have a nursery downstairs.
  5. The rosebud on the altar this morning is to announce the birth of David Alan Belzer, the sin of Rev. and Mrs. Julius Belzer.
  6. This afternoon there will be a meeting in the South and North ends of the church. Children will be baptized at both ends.
  7. Tuesday at 4:00 pm there will be an ice cream social. All ladies giving milk will please come early.
  8. Wednesday the ladies liturgy will meet. Mrs. Johnson will sing ‘Put me in my little bed accompanied by the pastor’.
  9. Thursday at 5:00 pm there will be a meeting of the Little Mothers Club. All ladies wishing to be ‘Little Mothers’ will meet with the Pastor in his study.
  10. This being Easter Sunday, we will ask Mrs. Lewis to come forward and lay an egg on the altar.
  11. The service will close with Little Drops of Water. One of the ladies will start quietly and the rest of the congregation will join in.
  12. Next Sunday a special collection will be taken to defray the cost of the new carpet. All those wishing to do something on the new carpet will come forward and do so.
  13. The ladies of the church have cast off clothing of every kind. They can be seen in the church basement Saturday.
  14. A bean supper will be held on Tuesday evening in the church hall. Music will follow.
  15. At the evening service tonight, the sermon topic will be ‘What is Hell?’ Come early and listen to our choir practice.
  16. The Scouts are saving aluminium cans, bottles and other items to be recycled. Proceeds will be used to cripple children.
  17. Ladies Bible Study will be held Thursday morning at 10. All ladies are invited to lunch in the Fellowship Hall after the B.S. is done.
  18. The pastor would appreciate it if the ladies of the congregation would lend him their electric girdles for the pancake breakfast next Sunday morning.
  19. Low Self Esteem Support Group will meet Thursday at 7 p.m. Please use the back door.
  20. The pastor will preach his farewell message, after which the choir will sing Break Forth Into Joy.
  21. A songfest was hell at the Methodist church Wednesday.
  22. The eighth graders will be presenting Shakespeare’s Hamlet in the Church basement Friday at 7p.m. The Congregation is invited to attend this tragedy.
  23. Weight Watchers will meet at 7 PM at the First Presbyterian Church. Please use large double door at the side entrance.
  24. Mrs. Johnson will be entering the hospital this week for testes.
  25. Please join us as we show our support for Amy and Alan who are preparing for the girth of their first child.
  26. The Lutheran Men’s group will meet at 6 PM. Steak, mashed potatoes, green beans, bread and dessert will be served for a nominal feel.
  27. The Associate Minister unveiled the church’s new tithing campaign slogan last Sunday: ‘I Upped My Pledge – Up Yours’.
  28. Our next song is ‘Angels We Have Heard Get High’.
  29. Eight new choir robes are currently needed, due to the addition of several new members and to the deterioration of some older ones.
  30. The senior choir invites any member of the congregation who enjoys sinning to join the choir.
  31. The outreach committee has enlisted 25 visitors to make calls on people who are not afflicted with any church.
  32. Evening massage – 6 p.m.
  33. The audience is asked to remain seated until the end of the recession.
  34. Ushers will eat latecomers.
  35. The third verse of Blessed Assurance will be sung without musical accomplishment.
  36. The Rev. Merriwether spoke briefly, much to the delight of the audience.
  37. During the absence of our pastor, we enjoyed the rare privilege of hearing a good sermon when J.F. Stubbs supplied our pulpit.
  38. Next Sunday, Mrs. Vinson will be soloist for the morning service. The pastor will then speak on ‘It’s a Terrible Experience’.
  39. Due to the Rector’s illness, Wednesday’s healing services will be discontinued until further notice.
  40. Stewardship Offertory: ‘Jesus Paid It All’
  41. The music for today’s service was all composed by George Friedrich Handel in celebration of the 300th anniversary of his birth.
  42. The concert held in Fellowship Hall was a great success. Special thanks are due to the minister’s daughter, who laboured the whole evening at the piano, which as usual fell upon her.
  43. 22 members were present at the church meeting held at the home of Mrs. Marsha Crutchfield last evening. Mrs. Crutchfield and Mrs. Rankin sang a duet, The Lord Knows Why.
  44. Today’s Sermon: HOW MUCH CAN A MAN DRINK? With hymns from a full choir.
  45. Hymn 43: ‘Great God, what do I see here?’
    Preacher: The Rev. Horace Blodgett
    Hymn 47: ‘Hark! an awful voice is sounding’
  46. (During the minister’s illness) GOD IS GOOD. Dr. Hargreaves is better.
  47. The 1997 Spring Council Retreat will be hell May 10 and 11.
  48. Pastor is on vacation. Massages can be given to church secretary.
  49. Bertha Belch, a missionary from Africa will be speaking tonight at Calvary Memorial Church in Racine. Come tonight and hear Bertha Belch all the way from Africa.
  50. Ladies, don’t forget the rummage sale. It’s a chance to get rid of those things not worth keeping around the house. Don’t forget your husbands.
  51. The peacemaking meeting scheduled for today has been cancelled due to a conflict.
  52. Next Thursday there will be tryouts for the choir. They need all the help they can get.
  53. Barbara remains in the hospital and needs blood donors for more transfusions. She is also having trouble sleeping and requests tapes of Pastor Jack’s sermons.
  54. Irving Benson and Jessie Carter were married on October 24 in the church. So ends a friendship that began in their school days.
  55. Attend and you will hear an excellent speaker and heave a healthy lunch.
  56. The cost for attending the Fasting and Prayer conference includes meals.
  57. The sermon this morning: ‘Jesus Walks on the Water’. The sermon tonight: ‘Searching for Jesus’.
  58. Youth basketball team is back in action Wednesday at 8 PM in the recreation hall. Come out and watch us kill Christ the King.
  59. Miss Charlene Mason sang ‘I Will Not Pass This Way Again’, giving obvious pleasure to the congregation.
  60. Please place your donation in the envelope along with the deceased person you want remembered.
  61. The church will host an evening of fine dining, superb entertainment, and gracious hostility.
  62. This evening at 7 P.M. there will be a hymn sing in the park across from the Church. Bring a blanket and come prepared to sin.
  63. The senior choir invites any member of the congregation who enjoys sinning to join the choir
    Have a nice day!
Metropolio Vertimai UAB provides professional translation and related services of the highest quality: simultaneous and consecutive interpreting, translation from/to 80 languages, stylistic, technical and creative editing of texts, localization, desktop publishing, rental of conference equipment and organisation of events.