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Peter Sheil

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Translation dangers [Oct. 17th, 2002|08:06 am]
Peter Sheil
These are the nominees for the Chevy Nova Award. This is given
in honor of the GM's fiasco in trying to market this car in
Central and South America. "No va" means, in Spanish, "No go."

1. The Dairy Association's huge success with the campaign
"Got Milk?" prompted them to expand advertising to Mexico. It
was soon brought to their attention the Spanish translation
read "Are you lactating?"

2. Colgate introduced a toothpaste in France called Cue, the
name of a notorious adult magazine.

3. An American T-shirt maker in Miami printed shirts for the
Spanish market which promoted the Pope's visit. Instead of "I
saw the Pope" (el Papa), the shirts read "I Saw the Potato"
(la papa).

4. Pepsi's "Come Alive With the Pepsi Generation" translated
into "Pepsi Brings Your Ancestors Back From the Grave" in

5. The Coca-Cola name in China was first read as "Kekoukela",
meaning "Bite the wax tadpole" or "female horse stuffed with
wax", depending on the dialect. Coke then researched 40,000
characters to find a phonetic equivalent "kokou kole",
translating into "happiness in the mouth."

6. Frank Perdue's chicken slogan, "It takes a strong man to
make a tender chicken" was translated into Spanish as "it takes
an aroused man to make a chicken affectionate."

7. When American Airlines wanted to advertise its new leather
first class seats in the Mexican market, it translated its "Fly
In Leather" campaign literally, which meant "Fly Naked" (vuela
en cuero) in Spanish!