Never Trust Bablefish: Top 13 Worse Slogan Translations

5 01 2007



13) When Parker Pen marketed a ball-point pen in Mexico, its ads were supposed to have read, “It won’t leak in your pocket and embarrass you.” The company thought that the word “embarazar” (to impregnate) meant to embarrass, so the ad read: “It won’t leak in your pocket and make you pregnant.”

12) Scandinavian vacuum manufacturer Electrolux used the following in an American campaign: “Nothing Sucks like an Electrolux.”

11) Clairol introduced the “Mist Stick,” a curling iron, into Germany only to find out that “mist” is slang for manure. Not too many people had use for the “Manure Stick.”

10) Coors put its slogan, “Turn It Loose,” into Spanish, where it was read as “Suffer From Diarrhea.”

9) Pepsi’s “Come Alive With the Pepsi Generation” translated into “Pepsi Brings Your Ancestors Back From the Grave” in Chinese.

8) When Gerber started selling baby food in Africa, they used the same packaging as in the US, with the smiling baby on the label. Later they learned that in Africa, companies routinely put pictures on the labels of what’s inside, since many people can’t read.

7) Colgate introduced a toothpaste in France called Cue, the name of a notorious porno magazine.

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.”

5) 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.

4) 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).

3) 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) General Motors had a very famous fiasco in trying to market the Nova car in Central and South America. “No va” in Spanish means, “It Doesn’t Go”.

1) 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 “kokoukole”, translating into “Happiness in the Mouth.”




24 responses

6 01 2007

very funny, thanks for the good laugh!!!

6 01 2007

Funny stuff! Thanks for sharing them.

7 01 2007

My Electolux sux very nicely.

7 01 2007

This really did make me laugh. The worst part, I really thought I might enjoy having a t shirt that said I SAW THE POTATO. . . .

8 01 2007

Do you know that “gerber” in french means to vomit ?

8 01 2007

no I didn’t know that. . . I thought it was ‘vomissure’

24 10 2007

i can’t understand why Bablefish can’t correct these problems. i’ve emailed tham about it several times. It’s made a lot of embaressment for me.

15 11 2007
Bill Connelly

Gerber in French means “to stack” as in ‘Déplacer ou gerber des conteneurs’ . It’s also worth noting that these problems have nothing to do with Babelfish, if you put these phrases in Bablefish, you don’t get the absurd translations mentioned here. These all seem like human error.

16 01 2008

Thanks for the info

4 02 2008

Suffer from diarrhea was fun 😀
But the elektrolux slogan is not funny cus they knew what they wrote ^^

11 02 2008

Well, I found this thing while finding bablefish to translate the website of a Japanese University for me. I don’t know what the original says, but bablefish says that they keep talking about their ‘ill-smelling’ campus’. Hmmm, ill-smelling? I really want to go on exchange to there now! (I wonder what they’re actually saying, though… Better ask my teacher…)

28 06 2008

Very funny… to people who complain about online translators though, you can’t really blame them. You have to understand how complicated language is (which is pretty hard to do if you only speak one language, so learn another). It’ll be years before we have computers that can translate well. Its not that they aren’t doing their best, we just can’t do it yet in terms of technology.

If you try putting in the phrase from the bible “The spirit in willing but the flesh is weak”, and using computer translators (into some languages, not others), it translates as “The alcohol is prepared, but the meat is spoiled.”

11 07 2008

imaging a person buying a shirt from a booth with a picture of the pope, and under it says: I saw the potato

11 07 2008

lol, the pope iz an old potato
[insert picture of a rotting potato here]

11 07 2008
tom simmons

I loved it, the story abou ‘the flesh is willing……..’ was told to me in the 1970’s and concerned the CIA programme to translate, the Russian Ambassador asked for a demonstration and the smile on his face was due to the translation ‘ The vodka is agreeable – but the meat has gone rotten’ I have told this maby times, until I found Bablefish.
Bu the way – why does nobody know about Douglas Adams?

8 08 2008

Lots of people know about the genious that is douglas adams!!!! Though i agree there are quite a few things in common usage that people dont realise have come from Hitch Hikers Guide.

24 08 2008

LOL those are hilarious!!
…but it really isn’t Babelfish’s problem. Like another posting said, idioms and slang can’t be translated. I mean…vacuums DO suck.
Example…NEVER say “tabernaque” (spelling?) in Quebec Canada. Literally translated it just means church (tabernacle) but it’s a nasty swear in Quebec, right up there with f**k.

BTW…that story about the Gerber’s baby food in Africa…urban legend. Never happened.

10 11 2008

Proof that Bablefish did this?

7 03 2009

[citation needed]

28 10 2010
Acne Treatment :

when i browse videos on youtube, i always look for those videos with funny stuffs in it,`”

30 10 2010
Share Quotes :

a good spanish translation service does not cost that much and is actually very affordable *

28 01 2011

good Trust

30 06 2012

No Va is an urban legend also

22 10 2014
babiesrus target

Now I am going to do my breakfast, once having my
breakfast coming again to read further news.

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