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Funny Translations



  • Italian:
    • In Italy, a campaign for Schweppes Tonic Water translated the name into Schweppes Toilet Water.1
    • Instructions on a packet of convenience food from Italy: "Besmear a backing pan, previously buttered with a good tomato sauce, and, after, dispose the cannelloni, lightly distanced between them in a only couch.".3
    • In a Rome laundry: Ladies, leave your clothes here and spend the afternoon having a good time.
  • Japanese:
    • The American slogan for Salem cigarettes, "Salem - Feeling Free," got translated in the Japanese market into "When smoking Salem, you feel so refreshed that your mind seems to be free and empty".1
    • Japan's second-largest tourist agency was mystified when it entered English-speaking markets and began receiving requests for unusual *** tours. Upon finding out why, the owners of Kinki Nippon Tourist Company changed its name.1
    • A warning to motorists in Tokyo: "When a passenger of the foot heave in sight, tootle the horn. Trumpet at him melodiously at first, but if he still obstacles your passage, then tootle him with vigor.".3
    • Panasonic developed a complete Japanese Web browser, and to make the system user-friendly, licensed the cartoon character Woody Woodpecker as the "Internet guide." Panasonic eventually planned on a world version of the product. The day before the ads were to be released, Panasonic decided to delay the product launch indefinately. The reason: an American staff member at the internal product launch explained to the stunned and embarrassed Japanese what the ad's slogan, "Touch Woody - The Internet Pecker", might mean to English speakers.4
    • In a Tokyo bar: Special cocktails for the ladies with nuts.6
    • In a Tokyo hotel: Is forbitten to steal hotel toweles please. If you are not person to do such thing is please not to read this notice.6
    • In a Japanese hotel room: Please to bathe inside the tub.6
    • In a Japanese hotel: You are invited to take advantage of the chambermaid.6
    • Diversion sign in Kyushi, Japan: Stop - Drive Sideways.6
    • English text on products made in Japan solely for Japanese consumers:
      • Message printed on an eraser: "Mr. Friendly Quality Eraser. Mr. Friendly Arrived!! He always stay near you, and steals in your mind to lead you to a good situation.". On the bottom of the eraser is a further message: "We are ecologically minded. This package will self-destruct in Mother Earth.".3
      • On Coke cans: "I FEEL COKE & SOUND SPECIAL".3
      • Text on a shopping bag picturing dancing elephants: "ELEPHANT FAMILY ARE HAPPY WITH US. THEIR HUMMING MAKES US FEEL HAPPY."3
      • Text on a shopping bag showing yachts on a blue sea: "SWITZERLAND: SEASIDE CITY".3
      • A range of products by a company called Cream Soda used to have the slogan: "Too fast to live, too young to happy".3
  • Spanish:
    • [Discredited at Don't Go Here9] When General Motors introduced the Chevy Nova in South America, it was apparently unaware that "no va" means "it won't go". After the company figured out why it wasn't selling any cars, it renamed the car in its Spanish markets to the Caribe.1
    • When Parker Pen marketed a ball-point pen in Mexico, its ads were supposed to say "It won't leak in your pocket and embarrass you". However, the company's mistakenly thought the Spanish word "embarazar" meant embarrass. Instead the ads said that "It wont leak in your pocket and make you pregnant".1
    • An American T-shirt maker in Miami printed shirts for the Spanish market which promoted the Pope's visit. Instead of the desired "I Saw the Pope" in Spanish, the shirts proclaimed "I Saw the Potato".1
    • Chicken-man Frank Perdue's slogan, "It takes a tough man to make a tender chicken", got terribly mangled in another Spanish translation. A photo of Perdue with one of his birds appeared on billboards all over Mexico with a caption that explained "It takes a hard man to make a chicken aroused".1
    • In an Acapulco hotel a sign read "The manager has personally passed all the water served here".2
    • The Mitsubishi four wheel drive marketed in Australia as the "Pajero" was the cause of great emabarassmentt in Spain where "Pajero" means "masturbater".7
  • Other languages:
    • Czechoslovakia: in a Czechoslovakian tourist agency: Take one of our horse-driven city tours - we guarantee no miscarriages.6
    • Denmark: in a Copenhagen airline ticket office: We take your bags and send them in all directions.6
    • German/Austria: a sign in a hotel catering to skiers read "Not to perambulate the corridors in the hours of repose in the boots of ascension".2
    • German/Austria: on a Vienna hotel: In case of fire, do your utmost to alarm the hotel porter.6
    • British/England: in an effort to boost orange juice sales in predominantly continental breakfast eating England, a campaign was devised to extol the drink's eye-opening, pick-me-up qualities. Hence, slogan, "Orange juice. It gets your pecker up".1
    • German/Germany: in a Leipzig elevator: Do not enter the lift backwards, and only when lit up.6
    • German/Germany: a sign posted in Germany's Black Forest: It is strictly forbidden on our black forest camping site that people of different ***, for instance, men and women, live together in one tent unless they are married with each other for that purpose.6
    • Greek/Greece: in a hotel in Athens: Visitors are expected to complain at the office between the hours of 9 and 11 A.M. daily.6
    • Polish/Poland: on the menu of a Polish hotel: Salad a firm's own make; limpid red beet soup with cheesy dumplings in the form of a finger; roasted duck let loose; beef rashers beaten up in the country people's fashion.6
    • Portuguese/Brazil: Ford had a problem in Brazil when the Pinto flopped. The company found out that Pinto was Brazilian slang for "tiny male genitals". Ford pried all the nameplates off and substituted Corcel, which means horse.1
    • Romania: in a Bucharest hotel lobby: The lift is being fixed for the next day. During that time we regret that you will be unbearable.6
    • Russian/Russia: on the door of a Moscow hotel room: If this is your first visit to the USSR, you are welcome to it.6
    • Russian/Russia: in the lobby of a Moscow hotel across from a Russian Orthodox monastery: You are welcome to visit the cemetery where famous Russian and Soviet composers, artists and writers are buried daily except Thursday.6
    • Russian/Russia: a translated sentence from a Russian chess book: A lot of water has been passed under the bridge since this variation has been played.6
    • Serbia: in a Belgrade hotel elevator: To move the cabin, push button for wishing floor. If the cabin should enter more persons, each one should press a number of wishing floor. Driving is then going alphabetically by national order.6
    • Sweden: in the window of a Swedish furrier: Fur coats made for ladies from their own skin.6
    • Switzerland: in a Swiss menu: "Our wines leave you nothing to hope for".2
    • Switzerland: in a Swiss mountain inn: Special today - no ice cream.6
    • Taiwan: [Read more about this at Come Alive!9] the translation of the Pepsi slogan "Come alive with the Pepsi Generation" came out as "Pepsi will bring your ancestors back from the dead".1, 5
    • Thailand: an ad for donkey rides asked "Would you like to ride on your own ***?".2
    • Thailand: in a Bangkok dry-cleaners: Drop your trousers here for best results.6
    • Thailand: in a Bangkok temple: It is forbidden to enter a woman even a foreigner if dressed as a man.6
    • Yugoslavia: a sign in a hotel read "The flattening of underwear with pleasure is the job of the chambermaid. Turn to her straightaway.".3
    • Yugoslavia: in the Europa Hotel, in Sarajevo, Yugoslavia, you will find this message on every door: "Guests should announce the abandonment of theirs rooms before 12 o'clock, emptying the room at the latest until 14 o'clock, for the use of the room before 5 at the arrival or after the 16 o'clock at the departure, will be billed as one night more.".3
    • Unknown (South Africa? France? Australia?): in a Rhodes tailor's shop: Order your summers suit. Because in big rush we will execute customers in strict rotation.6