In the third and final part of this series where we examine how similar-sounding words can carry completely different meanings in other languages, we take a look at celebrity names and some unfortunate brand names.
Suri Cruise, the daughter of Tom Cruise and Katie Holmes, has a name which means ‘red rose’ in Persian. However, people in Japan and France may find her name unflattering as it means ‘pickpocket’ and ‘turn sour’ in Japanese and French respectively.
‘Portia’, the name of a Shakespearean character in Julius Caesar and also the name of Ally McBeal star Portia de Rossi, may sound elegant, but it also translates as pig in Latin.
While the chances of people named Suri or Portia getting ridiculed in other countries due to their names are low, the same cannot be said of brand names, especially if companies decide to take their brand abroad.
Gerber is a famous brand of baby food, but its name is also the French word for vomiting. Thus, it is not available in French-speaking cities. In fact, even though it has a French Canadian website, there is a disclaimer “Les aliments pour bébés Gerber ne sont disponibles pour l’instant qu’aux États-Unis” (French for: The baby food isn’t here, try the U.S.).
Clairol introduced a curling iron named ‘Mist Stick’ in Germany without realizing that ‘mist’ is also a German slang term for manure.
An Italian brand of mineral water named ‘Traficante’ unfortunately shares the same term as ‘drug dealer’ in Spanish.
All these humiliating blunders could have been avoided if those companies had sought the professional opinion of a localization service provider to provide an understanding of the linguistic and cultural preferences of the target market.
Don’t follow the footsteps of these now-notorious brands and jeopardize your marketing plans. Speak to a localization service provider today!