Top 3 Legendary Translation Errors That Were Historical

The Internet and World Wide Web have brought us all together; however, whenever people that speak different languages are involved, miss-communication will always be a problem. In this post, we have mentioned top 3 legendary historical translation errors that became a major part of dining table conversations for at least a few months.

The Middle-East Blunder

This story goes back to 2006 when most people thought that the President of Iran, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad called Israel to be ‘wiped off the map.’ However, it was later found that there was a translation mistake. What the President actually said was “the regime occupying Jerusalem must vanish from the page of time.” By the time translation error was reported, damage was done.

The Vietnam Incident

Just prior to Vietnam War, intelligence officers falsified documents about a dispute attack. Later, a report was submitted, which stated that the officers at the NSA made honest mistakes in translating the documents. The controversy over the release of the article was first reported in The New York Times. Although, there were numerous reasons for the US to enter into Vietnam War, it still remains unclear just how things would be different without this translation error.

The U.S. President Incident

When Jimmy Carter, the US President in 1977, traveled to Poland to hold a United States’ first-ever news conference, the visit went horrendous. President Carter took the help of a not-so-accurate translator, the statement “I left the United States this morning,” was translated to “when I abandoned the United States.’’ You can imagine the embarrassment.

Above mentioned translation errors are not just hilarious; they must have embarrassed some of the most popular names in history. Avoid such errors by consulting a professional translator because being in the news for wrong reasons is not a very good experience.

Enjoyed the post? Read our post about automobile translation blunders – Car Names That Sound Hilarious in a Different Language.

Have a story related to translation blunders that you would like to share with us? Mention in the comments section.

Car Names That Sound Hilarious in a Different Language

If you enjoyed reading our first post named “International Boundary Blunders: Is Your Automobile Name a Source of Embarrassment, you are sure to enjoy this one.

Marketing can make or break brands, especially, if international customers are involved. Any brand name planning to attract international customers struggles with difference in culture and demand; however, the most challenging hindrance is language barrier. If you want know the importance of accurate translation, ask some of the most popular brands that have faced humiliation and financial loss because of translation blunders. Numerous tales are popular about intercultural blunders. This is a list of a few most unfortunately hilarious car names that embarrassed the brand owners.

Nissan Moco (in Spanish: ‘booger’)

Nissan faced embarrassment when they reached Spanish speaking countries with a car named Nissan Moco. They later realized that the name translates as ‘mucus’ in Spanish. The car is no longer sold in Spain and Spanish speaking markets because people do not want to drive something that means ‘Booger’ or to simplify ‘mucus.’

Chevrolet Nova (in Spanish: ‘It Doesn’t Go’)

Will you buy a car that just ‘does not go’? General Motors faced humiliation by marketing Chevrolet Nova in Central and South America because ‘No va’ in Spanish means, ‘it doesn’t go.’

Opel Ascona (in Spain and Portugal: ‘female genitalia’)

Now, this is not just hilarious, it is extremely humiliating. If Opel Ascona meant something like ‘little flower,’ it won’t be as embarrassing for the brand as ‘female genitalia.’ It embarrassed the brand owners among Spanish speaking countries and definitely falls under ‘the worst mistakes’ category.

Final Thoughts

Although, the above-mentioned blunders are funny, we are sure that no brand owner wants to end-up facing a situation like this. For correct language translation, contact us.

Have examples of car names gone wrong? Let us know in the comments section.

3 Crazy Marketing Translations Gone Horribly Wrong

“If you have always done it that way, it is probably wrong.”
– Charles Kettering

The possibility of going global with a brand has never been as favorable as it is now. Today, it is easy to establish an international customer base and the who’s who of the corporate world are entering the international market in a hope to expand customer reach and sell their products globally. However, for a business to succeed overseas, it is important to appeal to their international customer base.


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If not done properly, marketing techniques can have devastating outcomes. Unfortunately, numerous businesses have learned the hard way that their marketing campaign offended customers instead of charming them. Mentioned below a few crazy marketing translations gone horrible wrong –


A name that is popular among people of all ages, KFC tried to expand its customer reach to China. When the company opened its outlet in Beijing, the brand translated its popular slogan ‘Finger-lickin’ good,’ which didn’t turn out to be as delightful in Chinese as it sounds in English. The translated words were “Eat your finger off.” No less than a blunder.


What do you do when your campaign turns out to be an exact opposite of what you had expected? This is exactly what happened with HSBC Bank and its global private banking campaign. The bank spent millions of dollars to market its “Assume Nothing” campaign but the problem arose when the slogan reached overseas. It was translated as “Do Nothing” in numerous countries.


Another name in the list is the popular American beer maker Coors. The ever-popular “Turn it Loose” campaign of Coors didn’t turn out as well as planned. The owners figured out that the slang does not always translate well, especially in Spanish. When translated, it was interpreted as “Suffer from diarrhea.” Definitely not a good way to market a soft drink brand.

In Conclusion

Culture affects whatever we do; therefore, it is important to understand the religious practices followed by majority of people, find out if there is any dominant political ideology, or economic ideology before marketing your brand in a particular country. All of these, if left unexamined, may impact a brand launch.

A lot of other popular names also made some embarrassing intercultural mistakes. Read more about it on our post – Intercultural Blunders.

For intercultural translation services, contact us. Any brand name we missed? Let us know your favorites.

Money Matters: 4 Popular Spanish Proverbs about Money

“An investment in knowledge pays the best interest.” –  –Benjamin Franklin

They say that money has no language; however, numerous popular quotes are present on money matters in almost every language. Regardless of whether you are interested in knowing what other cultures have to say about something that has become a significant part of lives of many people, or need a different perspective on money, Spanish proverbs present in this article provide a great combination of sage advice and witty expressions.

There is absolutely no substitute to knowing them and if you can use them in day-to-day life, even better. Mentioned below is the list of popular Spanish proverbs about money, along with English translation and explanations.


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Proverb #1: No todo lo que brilla es oro

English Translation: Not everything that shines is gold.

Meaning: If you are an English speaker, you must have heard the popular saying, “All that glitters is not gold.” It means that in life it is important to look for the true value and understand the true worth of something or someone, and one should not be lured in by a shiny façade.

Proverb #2: Más vale pájaro en mano que ciento volando

English Translation: A bird in the hand is worth more than a hundred flying.

Meaning: Although, this proverb is not about money, it can prove to be a great advice for businessmen and entrepreneurs. It means that one should make the most of what they have, rather than waiting for enough resources or the right time.

Proverb #3: Acabándose el dinero, se termina la Amistad

English Translation: With the money ending, the friendship ends.

Meaning: This is a great lesson to learn in life. It is rightly said that we just need to know which hand to shake and which hand to hold. Be sure that your friends like you for the person you are, not because of your wealth and power.

Proverb #4: Honra y dinero se ganan despacio y se pierden ligero

English Translation: Honor and money are earned slowly and lost quickly.

Meaning: It simply says that one should reach for the stars but keep their feet on earth. Always be in control of your finances and behavior. Save money and preserve your reputation.

Make these proverbs a significant part of your life and attain desired success because knowledge in any language should be welcomed.

Which is your favorite Spanish proverb? Share with us in the comments’ section.

Top Intercultural Blunders: Words That Embarrassed the Big Brand Owners and Governments

In the past few years, numerous business owners and governments have realized that language translation is challenging. Unfortunately, they have learned it the hard way that translation mistakes can be awfully embarrassing and may cause losses in billions.

Like most translation blunders, recent linguistic missteps are cringe worthy and some are humorous. This article is a reminder that it is important to take required precautions while working in another language. Hopefully, professional help and some extra care will make the coming year, a year of translation success!

An example of a funny translation blunder

Top Intercultural Blunders-LanguageOasis

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Here is our list of top 3 blunders in the past few years that gathered‘attention.’

The Lumia Incident

According to reports, it was a conscious blunder. Mobile giant Nokia was aware of the fact that Lumia is an obscure Spanish word. Regardless of that, they chose to name its new range of mobile phones ‘Nokia Lumia.’ The cellular company took this decision the moment it realized that most Spanish speakers are not aware of the old meaning of the word. However, the risk didn’t turn out to be safe. When the press discovered the old definition of the word, the buzz spread globally.

The Rihanna Incident

This is an old story, but still deserves a mention. In one of the articles published in a popular Dutch magazine ‘Jackie,’ an article referred to singer Rihanna with a combination of sexist and racist insults. The article, except the offensive words, was written and published in Dutch. Although, the magazine claimed that it did not know the exact meaning of the words because they were written in a different language, the editor had to apologize and resign over this incident.

Finding the Chinese Police Incident

The job of police is to help people. However, this is not the case in China, at least, according to one of the sign boards. In an awfully failed attempt to be helpful, one signboard in China read, “difficult to find police.” Can you guess what they wanted to say? Well, what they meant was, “In case of difficulty, call the police.”

We all make mistakes; however, on a global level, even a minute translation error can greatly affect a brand and its reputation. Consulting a professional translation company could have saved these big brands a lot of money and resources. Now that’s what we call prudent advice!

Have any interesting stories? Share with us in the comments section.

The Origin of Trick or Treat: Unveiling Halloween Traditions

October is the time of year when kids wear Halloween costumes and trail around the neighborhood, knocking the doors and asking for treats. This is an old Halloween tradition; however, very few people know the origin of the phrase ‘Trick or Treat.’ Let’s find out where did it come from?

Most traditions associated with Halloween are borrowed from four different festivals, namely:

–          The Roman Pomona festival

–          The Roman Feralia festival

–          The Celtic festival

–          All saints’ Day


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The practice of wearing masks and dressing up as evil spirits comes from the Celtic tradition. The Celts believed that dressing in white costumes and impersonating evil spirits will help the dead overlap and roam the earth again as they enter the new year. By dressing up like evil spirits, the people decided to fool actual spirits.

The tradition of ‘trick or treating,’ or ‘guising,’ began in the Middle Ages. At that time, children and poor adults used to dress-up in the aforementioned costumes and roam around the neighborhood during Hallowmas, begging for money or food in exchange for songs and prayers. It was believed that these kids and adults were doing so on behalf of dead.

An example of song from 19th century is as follows:

“A soul! a soul! a soul-cake!

Please good Missis, a soul-cake!

An apple, a pear, a plum, or a cherry,

Any good thing to make us all merry.

One for Peter, two for Paul

Three for Him who made us all.”

Interestingly, this practice didn’t continue for a long time. It re-emerged after 1920 and paused for a while during WW II. However, it’s now back in full force. Now that you know a little more about the tradition, it is time to ‘trick or treat.’

Have any Halloween costume ideas? Share your ideas in the comments section. Need translation for Halloween messages? Contact us!

Counting the Differences: 3 Ways Spanish Language is Different from English

According to Census Bureau, over 5.5 million students in the US learn the English language. In all, students speak more than 400 different languages but around 80% of them speak Spanish at home. Considering the popularity of both the languages, we have decided to focus on the basic differences in order to help learners avoid confusion.


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Apart from a common difference that Spanish is close to Latin and English is a Germanic language, a few other variances separate both the languages. In this article, we will focus on top three.                                                 

Noun Gender

English language does not have a concept of noun genders, however, Spanish does. Spanish has masculine and feminine nouns that are used to differentiate between the genders. The alphabet ‘O’ is used for masculine nouns, and ‘A’ for feminine nouns.


Spanish native speakers make rolling ‘rr’ sound while speaking, a sound that English speakers aren’t required to produce. If you are a native English speaker, you might require some practice to produce the rolling ‘rr’ sound. The simplest way to learn the pronunciation quickly is to listen to native Spanish speakers and imitate them. You may also listen to audio(s) and practice.

Special Characters

Spanish has several special characters that English language does not. Some letters are used with an accent mark of some sort at the top.

Final Thoughts

Regardless of whether you are a student, or someone who likes to learn and read about different languages, learning basic differences between Spanish and English will help you speak both the languages fluently.

Do you want us create to another post stating the differences between two languages? Let us know in the comments section.

Need English to Spanish language translation? Contact us!

Modern Day English: Keep Up-To-Date With New Word Additions in Oxford Dictionary


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The Z-gen has its own ways of living, learning and communicating. Unsurprisingly, social media enthusiasts and regular internet users have provided yet another list of new words. In this article, we have mentioned popular word/abbreviations additions in Oxford dictionary.



A ‘modest,’ or ‘humble’ word that is used to draw attention to something of which one is proud. Often used with a #hashtag, this word is popular on social media.

Example: All the clothes I plan to wear seem very big for me! #humblebrag



This one is for the people of Twitter world, by the people of Twitter world. On Twitter, if you want to refer to a particular user without mentioning them directly, that’s a Subtweet.

Example: Although, Jack didn’t include Peter’s tweet, that did not stop Peter from seeing the post and firing off his own subtweet.



A lot has been said about the word ‘YOLO.’ Some made it the mantra of their lives, while others think YOLO is for the people who do not take the words like ‘responsible’ and ‘discipline’ seriously. YOLO (You Only Live Once) is a way of expressing that one should make the most of the present moment.

Example: I purchased an iPhone from my one-year’s saving.  #YOLO



Another abbreviation, SMH means ‘shaking my head’ or ‘shake my head.’ The word is used in electronic communication to express frustration or disapproval. It is often used when the word ‘no’ is not enough.

Example: SMH at your stupid remarks.

These are just a few common words used by net-savvy enthusiasts on the World Wide Web. Oxford dictionary adds numerous words every year. We will keep updating you.

If you want to tell us about a new word, mention in the comment section.

Understand English the ‘Chinglish’ Way: Common Chinese-English Translation Errors

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George Steiner once said and I quote, “Every language is a world. Without translation, we would inhabit parishes bordering on silence.” A large number of English-speaking tourists travel to China every year, hence, it is only natural to create bilingual signs with English subtitles. Also, the people of China are known for their zeal to learn the English language. Irrespective of the fascination of travel enthusiasts to explore the country, the English-speaking guests often face many difficulties while finding their way around People’s Republic of China. Sadly, not all business owners in China are willing to invest in professional translation, and software solutions used for translation are not always reliable.

Due to incorrect translation, signs that are supposed to help the tourists find their way, end-up causing outbursts of inexorable laughter. Below are some pictures with funny Chinese to English translation that Wikipedia very creatively termed as ‘Chinglish.’


This is a warning sign written in Chinese and translated in English. It is created to warn people at the time of thunderstorms. The actual meaning is – Please do not climb the mountain; however, the complexity of translation makes it a ‘sign’ of laughter.


Now, this one is hilarious. It is a (mis)translation of the location of public washroom. The actual translation is ‘Public washroom is on the second floor.’


Want to do some calculations? This is a signboard in Shanghai’s ferry dock, which in correct English means ‘Mind the gap.’


Here, they have used an uncommon word to convey a simple message. The actual sign should be ‘Please close gently.’ However, the word ‘steek’ is used that means, ‘enclose, close, shut,’ instead of the common word.

Have more such images that you would like to share with us? Let us know in the comment section. Need Chinese-English translation? Contact us!