"So good you'll eat your fingers off": bad slogan translations....

I know there are a lot of urban legends about these sorts of things, the one in my title, I think, is one of them. It comes from the slogan “Finger lickin’ good” that was translated into Chinese as “So good, you’ll eat your fingers off.”

One that might be bona fide, that I read in In Your Face a year or two ago, was that the name Coca Cola first translated as “Eat the Wax Tadpole” in Chinese. That since has changed to another Chinese pronunciation that exemplifies the superior tastorifiqueness of Coca Cola (I’ve forgotten what it is, if someone wantes the author’s citation I’ll take a look).

I’m wondering if there are other examples of slogans and products that had horrible results when translated into other langauges (namely, I would presume, the Asian languages).

I’ve seen plenty of sites showing badly translated English, that’s not really what I’m looking for, since I’ve already seen so many.

Not quite as bad, but I can attest that “Finger lickin’ good” was translated as Como chuparse sus dedos! in Spanish when KFC first appeared here in Panama. This means approximately “So that you’ll suck your fingers!”, but it could also be translated as “So that you’ll suck your toes!” (Dedos meaning both fingers and toes in Spanish.) I haven’t seen this slogan in many years, so I assume it’s been retired. :smiley:

The Mitsubishi Pajero is called the Montero in places with a substantial Spanish-speaking population, including the US, because pajero means jerk-off or wanker (masturbator) in Spanish.

Not a translation, but I’ve always felt that if you MUST name your real estate business L. J. Hooker, you should try coming up with a slogan other than “Nobody does it better.”

Perhaps not exactly a translation issue, but when Electrolux vacuum cleaners were first introduced into the US, the Swedish company thought that a clever slogan in English would be “Nothing sucks like an Electrolux.” They soon changed it.

Snopes says not quite.
And let me nip in the bud any Nova references, too.

And loosely related are the Mazda Laputa (the whore) and the Nissan Moco (mucus / snot). If they join the wave of tiny cars coming from Japan to the US, I’m assuming that they’ll change the names, cause otherwise they might be a tough sell. Especially in Miami :slight_smile:

No. That’s a good one!

I meant to mention the Nova one as well.

It’s not a foreign-language translation issue, but in my fridge is a bottle of Langers’ Cranberry Juice. Of course, I’m the one who bought it…

Thanks, that’s hilarious - especially since the Moco (which could also be translated as Booger) is small, round, and green. :smiley:

This site in Spanish mentions it without remarking on the name. That must have taken will power.

By the way, does anyone know what, if anything, “moco” means in Japanese?

The only meaning I can think of is ‘dim’. In Japanese the car’s name is given in katakana, so there’s no hint to meaning. Probably someone just thought it sounded nice.

Actually, I’m pretty sure the name is written in Romaji. Off the top of my head, I can’t remember ever seeing a model name on the car written in anything but Romaji.

Here you go. Nissan’s web page for the car also uses the katakana spelling in addition to Moco. I’m not saying that the katakana spelling is the most common one, I’m just saying that when they choose to write the car’s name in actual Japanese, they do so in katakana.

Ooh, and look they have the cars of life and of love. Now they just need one of kids and beer bellies.

So what are the marketing departments doing exactly? Sitting down with a dictionary of Spanish vulgar slang and saying “Oooh! This will be perfect in Japan.”? That sounds easier than doing real work.

Packaging here in Canada on consumer goods is in both English and French. A friend of mine showed me a tin of “fine bread crumbs” he’s bought (fine in the sense of tiny). The French version translated fine by “amende” - which means the kind of fine a judge hands down.

Urban legend, status undetermined:
The 1960s slogan “Come alive with the Pepsi generation!” translated into Chinese as “Pepsi brings your ancestors back from the dead!”

As the Snopes page alreadly linked to states, the translation of “Coca-Cola” into “bite the wax tadpole” was a mistake made not by the Coca-Cola Company itself, but by local Japanese businessmen promoting the drink, since the word for “wax” sounds like “la.” The official Japanese name for the drink, which is pronounced roughly as “coca-coler,” translates to “happiness in the mouth.”

Although this isn’t a slogan, no discussion about mistranslations is complete without the (apocryphal) story of the Russian to English translation computer. According to the story, they tested it by typing the phrase “out of sight, out of mind” in, translating it into Russian, and then back into English. The result: “invisible idiot.” (Of course, this never happened, it’s just a good story that’s funny and makes sense. The result I get from Babelfish is “from the sighting, from the reason,” which I can’t help singing to Irving Berlin’s God Bless America.)

Two references to “Japanese” in previous post should read “Chinese.”

Try Engrish.Com. It’s just plain @!#?@! funny!