Hilariously Embarrassing Translation Mistakes to Avoid

English translation mistakes

Hilariously Embarrassing Translation Mistakes to Avoid

Hilariously Embarrassing Translation Mistakes to Avoid

(Last Updated On: November 9, 2023)

Marketing your brand to other countries can be daunting. The message must get across another culture and language. A lot of it can be lost in translation. In fact, it’s not uncommon to see companies make translation mistakes every now and then. Here are some English translation mistakes which costed a lot to be fixed.

Embarrassing English Translation Mistakes

translation mistakes

Nothing sucks like an Electrolux

Electrolux is  a Swedish vacuum manufacturer. When they first introduced their brand to the American market, they included their tagline, which unfortunately sounds inappropriate. While they wanted to highlight their product’s power, they only ended up offending some of the consumers with their English translation mistakes.

Suffer from diarrhea

Coors’ “Turn it loose” catch phrase is short, fun, and catchy. Well, that is in English. However, if translated into another language, the message might not sound as fun as it is. When Coors started promotional campaigns in Spain, they found out the hard way that the equivalent of their tagline is “Suffer from diarrhea.

Eat your fingers off

Who doesn’t know KFC’s famous line: finger-licking good? The phrase is so catchy they decided to use it when the company started marketing in China. Without a doubt, they are successful as they have established more than 4000 restaurants in the country. However, back in 1980s when they opened their first restaurant in Beijing, they shocked a lot of customers when their translators directly translated the slogan to “eat your fingers off.”

Every car has a high-quality corpse

When Ford tried to impress the Belgian customers, they decided to use the catchphrase “ Every car has a high-quality body.” The only thing is that it was translated into “ Every car has a high-quality corpse.”

marketing translation

Do nothing

The world’s local bank, HSBC, has made a huge and expensive mistake when they mistakenly translated and printed “Do nothing” instead of “Assume nothing” slogan. While it does not sound half as bad as the others, it certainly cost them a lot as they paid about 10 million usd for the campaign already.


American Motors were shocked when they found that their newly released car, Matador, sales flopped in Puerto Rico. That is until they discovered that the name of the car literally translates to “killer”, an ominous name that no driver wants to be associated with.

Fly naked

In the 1980s, Braniff Airlines found themselves in the middle of a controversy as they try to release a new campaign “Fly in leather” to emphasize that passengers will now enjoy leather-seats. This became successful in Latin America and America. However, it didn’t do so well in Mexico as the slogan, which was translated to “Vuela en Cuero”, means “Fly naked.”

Knowing two languages doesn’t make one a translator

Knowing how to speak English is not the same thing as knowing how to translate. Translation is a special ability that experts work hard to develop. Translation is a technical job that needs hands-on skills. As an English translator, you must maintain strong control over syntax, diction, and etymology of words to translate them adequately. Though, this is not always the situation you are starting your career as a translator.

Beginners struggle with an accurate translation of words because they still need to get used with some essential translation rules. As they have just started in the translation industry, they have to learn several things. It takes time to translate the English language into a target language and vice versa.

They also have to deal with client-related problems, for instance, miscommunication, non-compliance and failure to market themselves. As they are beginners, they make certain English translation mistakes that are more impulsive.

As the society gets smaller, the skill of translation becomes more critical to our ability to interact with the people on the other side of the world. Thankfully, when a non-English speaker of a language translates something, there is always the threat that they will get it massively wrong. The poorly translated English language or English translation mistakes can be funny and at the same time can be dangerous for someone.

English translation mistakes do show up every once in a while even with big companies which have large marketing budgets. Not using quality translation and localization services may end up costing you much more in the long run.

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