Language faux pax happens billions of times a day. A word here gets lost in translation and is seen as something a little off color to the culture. It gets pretty embarrassing when it happens to an agency. With Fargo, North Dakota and Moorhead, Minnesota being sister cities, these language blunders don’t happen as often, or so I thought until a couple weeks ago.
Absolute Marketing had been given the task to re-name a local migrant health group in order to denounce notions that the clinic only served Hispanics. In my triumphant presentation to the board, complete with my horrible Norse accent, I proclaimed a list of names. My goal was to be very high-brow and beautiful without ignoring the very loyal Hispanic client base. One of my favorite names was, Caritas. In Latin, caritas means compassion and charity. In Spanish, it means emoticons or smiling faces. What a great combination, right? I should’ve used an Spanish to English slang dictionary. Caritas Health Services means Raunchy Cat-Call Health Services.
As Spanish becomes the most widely spoken language in the US, I thought I’d take a look at the top 5 English to Spanish blunders.
5. Company: Parker Pen
Product: ball-point pen.
American Slogan: “It won’t leak in your pocket and embarrass you.”
Spanish Translation: “It won’t leak in your pocket and make you pregnant.”
4. Company: Coors
American Slogan: “Turn It Loose!”
Spanish Translation: “Suffer from Diarrhea!”
3. Company: The Dairy Association
American Slogan: “Got Milk?”
Spanish Translation: “Are You Lactating?”
2. Company: American Airlines
Product: First-class leather seating.
American Slogan: “Fly in Leather.”
Spanish Translation: “Fly Naked.”
1. Company: Frank Perdue
American Slogan: “It Takes A Strong Man To Make A Tender Chicken.”
Spanish Slogan: “It Takes An Aroused Man To Make A Chicken Affectionate.”