Language Matters: Lost in Translation

Ad campaigns are meant to be clever, witty, and memorable.  Sometimes, however, translating ads into other languages can cause unexpected problems.


When American fast food giant Kentucky Fried Chicken opened their first restaurant in Beijing in 1987, they accidentally translated KFC’s famous slogan, “Finger-lickin’ good” to “We’ll Eat Your Fingers Off!” in Chinese.



Pepsi’s slogan “We bring you back to life” caused a bit of panic in China, where they read it as, “We bring your ancestors back from the grave.”



In 1977 Braniff Airlines only meant to advertise the leather seats they’d installed in First Class, bheir slogan, “Fly in leather” translated for Spanish-speaking markets as, “Vuela en cuero,” which means “Fly naked.”



When Parker Pen’s famous slogan “It won’t leak in your pocket and embarrass you” was translated into Spanish, it confused many Mexican consumers who read it as, “It won’t leak in your pocket and make you pregnant.”



The Coca-Cola name in China was first read as “Ke-kou-ke- la,” meaning “Bite the wax tadpole” or the equally hilarious, “female horse stuffed with wax,” depending on the dialect. Coke then researched to find a phonetic equivalent “ko-kou-ko- le,” translating into “happiness in the mouth.”

3 thoughts on “Language Matters: Lost in Translation

  1. Pingback: The 31st ESL Blog Carnival | One Year

  2. Pingback: The 31st ESL Blog Carnival | Teach them English

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