What do you say when you hurt yourself? What do they say around the world?
It may not have occurred to you that people in different countries say ‘ouch’ differently – it’s certainly not the kind of thing teachers tell you when you’re learning foreign languages! I recently came across this excellent list of pain words, which tells you how different countries express themselves when they get hurt.
Here they are:
|Arabic ||أخ (Aakh!) |
|Chinese ||哎哟 Aiyo! |
|Croatian || Avaj!Jao! |
|Danish ||Av! |
|Japanese ||いたい! （いたっ！いったっ！いったたたっ！いって～） |
Itai! (Ita! Itta! Ittatata!)
|Maltese ||Ajma! (Ay-ma!) |
|Persian ||آخ or واخ (pronounced aakh and vaakh, respectively) |
|Spanish || |
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|Tagalog (Philippines) ||Aray! |
|Thai || |
|Urdu/Gujarati/Hindi || |
(Gujarati): Oh baaprey!
So maybe the next time you stub your toe whilst abroad, you might like to try one of these new words! If you know the word for ‘owch’ in a language that’s not listed here, please share it with us!
Whilst analysing or comparing one’s own language with a foreign language, many people find it helpful to look for words that are well-known or similar to their own language. This stems from the fact that most languages have evolved from Latin. Latin is the mother of almost all languages worldwide, so it is not surprising that it has left marks on individual words. This article does not deal with Latin roots in English, but with German words applied in English.
It is surprising how many German words are known and used in foreign languages (not only in English), and there are various reasons that other languages adopt them. One such reason might be that in a particular language there is no true equivalent word and thus a translation is not possible. Another reason might be that the word is specific to the region where it is from and therefore expresses the original background meaning.
The following are some loan German words used in English. The list below is only a short summary of the most popular words.
Food & Drink
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On the other hand, sometimes it also happens that a language uses words from a foreign language, but misunderstands the correct meaning, as the following examples show.
“English” words in German
The term Bodybag is used in German language for describing a bag carried close to the body. A small difference to the English meaning of body bag, which is a bag used for dead bodies. Another term, Handy, is used to mean a cell phone by German people, who are unaware that it does not mean the same in English. The last example is the term Mobbing which in German expresses bullying. For a longer list of anglicisms in German click here. The amount may surprise you!
All together it has to be said that is important to know the exact meaning of a word before using a foreign term. However, the best option is to use words from one’s own language (if possible) and to try not to use foreign language words, even if the correct meaning is not known.
Do you know any other German words used in English? Or can you add anything to what I have mentioned here… I am looking forward to reading your comments! Alternitavely, if you’re looking for more information about our German language services then click here.
We all love a good laugh and branding cockups don’t ever fail to deliver. I bet the new brand decision makers for these well-known brand names most certainly weren’t too happy – but it’s great entertainment for us. Who in their right mind would name their company ‘F***ing Hell’ – I kid you not. Read on to find out about that and many other hilarious branding cock-ups.
Baniff translated a slogan claiming finely upholstered seats “Fly in Leather”. When this was translated into Spanish it comes out as “Fly Naked.”Clairol
Clairol marketed a curling iron as “Mist Stick”. Unfortunately “mist” in German is a slang word for manure.
When Colgate launched a product in France it decided upon the name brand name “Cue”. Unfortunately if they had done their market research they would have realised that “Cue” is also the name of a French pornographic magazine. This must have caused confusion for customers shopping in the supermarket when asking for Cue to brush their teeth with.
The well known American beer brand Coors suffered an unfortunate mishap when it launched it’s product in Spain. Their marketing team chose the slogan “turn it loose” which in Spain is a colloquial term for diarrhoea.
World famous vacuum cleaner manufacturer Electrolux chose the slogan “Nothing suck like an Electrolux” when they launched their product in America. Of course sucks is a reference in American slang that means bad or poor. Of course this is also considered and urban legend of translation but would still be funny if it were true!
Ford launched a car in Brazil called the Ford Pinto. Unfortunately in Brazillian Portuguese Pinto also means “tiny male genitals”
American meat processing and poultry farming company Perdue Farms used the slogan “it takes a tough man to make tender chicken” to try and appeal to some of the masculine male customers in Spain. However when this slogan is translated into Spanish it comes through as “It takes a sexually stimulated man to make a chicken affectionate”.
Everyone knows Ikea right? Ikea is a world recognised furniture store that began in Sweden. However when they launched in Thailand they didn’t realise that some of their Swedish names mean “sex” or “third base” in Thai. Also in China Ikea’s Chinese website advertised a stuffed wolf toy called Lufsig, or Lo Mo Sai (路姆西). This unfortunately contained a homophobe of Hai (閪), a profane Cantonese word meaning “vagina”. The name itself could be written as Lo Mo Hai (老母閪) which means “mothers Vagina”.
Fast food restaurant chain KFC made some Chinese customers feel uncomfortable or just confused with their slogan “finger licking good”. When the restaurant chain launched in China their slogan translated to “eat your fingers off”.
Mercedes Benz launched in China under the brand name “Bensi”. Which in China means “rush to die”.
Sportswear manufacturer Nike was forced to recall thousands of it’s products when the design on some of it’s products was deemed too similar to the Arabic word for Allah.
Electrical giant Panasonic launched a new web ready PC using a Woody Woodpecker theme. Not too bad in itself except the slogan they used was “Touch Woody : The Internet Ready Pecker”.
The makers of premium pens Parker Pens launched in Mexico using it’s slogan “It won’t leak in your pocket and embarrass you”. Unfortunately this was mistranslated as “It won’t leak in your product and make you pregnant.
Iranian consumer goods company Paxam marketed it laundry soap using the Farsi word for “snow”. This resulted in packaging been labelled as “Barf Soap”.
American branded Puffs Facial Tissues, from Procter and Gamble, entered into the German market. Unfortunately they didn’t realise that “Puff” is a German slang word for brothel.
The American Dairy Association used it’s slogan “Got Milk?” as it’s slogan in Spanish speaking markets. This was translated as “Are you lactating?”. Bit of a personal question don’t you think?
Procter and Gamble brand Vicks moved into the German market with it’s cough drops. In German the pronunciation of “V” is actually “F” which made “Vick” slang for sexual intercourse in Germany.
When the name of the Toyota MR2 is pronounced in French it is phonetically similar to “mede” in French, which is their word for “shit”.
Motoring manufacturer Mitsubishi found that their Pajero product name as the same as the Spanish word for “wanker” when they launched in Spain.
Japanese motor company Honda initially launched their Honda Jazz as the Honda Fitta. However when their marketing team contacted their Swedish office with the name they found out that Fitta is a slang word for “vagina” in Swedish and Norwegian. They promptly decided on the Jazz although Japan kept the “Fit” brand for it’s home market.
I know what your thinking. How rude. How profane. However Fucking Hell is the name of a German Pilsner beer brewed in Germany. When they launched the brand in 2010 they upset the European Union due to the nature of the word and it’s expletive nature in the English language. However the brand name refers to an actual town in Austria which is in fact called Fucking whereas as Hell in Germany refers to pale lager. They launched an appeal against the original EU decision to disallow this name and they won.
Below is a short list of some actual products that are available on sale in various countries. Are they marketing mistakes or are they genius in advertising? Decide for yourselves!
- Crapsy Fruit, a French breakfast cereal
Alu-Fanny, a French aluminium foil
Atum Bom, a Portuguese brand of tinned tuna
Kack, Danish confectionery
Plopp, a Swedish chocolate bar
Mukk, an Italian yogurt
Bimbo, a brand of bread in Spain and the Americas
Slag, a Belgian lager
Kum Onit, a German make of pencil sharpeners
- Pschitt, a French fizzy soft drink
How much do you think the ‘cock-ups’ cost each company? Get in touch with us for professional translations, that are localised and right on the mark – every time!
How Lingua Translations can help with your sporting needs
Here at Lingua Translations, one of the many services we offer is language services in the field of sports (“field” – get it?!). We have provided a range of services – mainly to sports teams and agencies – and perhaps we could help you next!
Whether it’s translating articles to broaden to global appeal of major football clubs, to interpreting for new players, or even teaching them English, we are here to help you reach your goals (I’ll stop with the puns soon) with any sporting matter, no matter how big or small.
Sports translation? We got this!
We translate and proofread match reports and articles for one of the biggest clubs in world football right now, while also translating promo’s involving a major betting agency and various teams including not only a Premier League winning club, but also a 5-times European cup winning team too! Besides translating articles, reports and promos, we’ve also been asked to translate medical documents needed for a player’s transfer. This is of course top-secret stuff as any leak could jeopardise the transfer, or alert other teams who might try and snap the player up instead! With Lingua Translations, you are safe in the knowledge that your documents remain 100% confidential.
We also have experience with interpreting for major football clubs as well, including helping them interpret during football camps for kids (run by another Premier League and Champions League winning club), as well as helping players during their medical before a transfer. Once the players had signed, we also offered them English language lessons in our office to help them settle. For players coming to a new country and culture, this can be a great help!
While a lot of our recent sports work has revolved around football (or “soccer”, for our American clients!), our linguists also have experience and knowledge in a variety of sports and related subjects for example things like cycling and athletics, but also things such as physiotherapy for sports injuries.
Whatever your sporting-related language requirements – whether you are an internationally supported sports team, or an individual amateur athlete – why not get in touch? You can visit our website at www.Lingua-Translations.com, or you can send us an email at email@example.com.
For quite some time, companies such as Google, Amazon and Apple have been diving into the world of translation, with their machine translation tools. The most famous (or infamous, depending on what you think) of these is Google Translate.
In ten years of Google Translate, the programme has gone from supporting two languages to 103. More than 500 million of us use Google Translate which translates more than 100 billion words a day. The main languages translated are English, Spanish, Arabic, Russian, Portuguese and Indonesian. Brazilians are known to use Google Translate more than any other country.
Who uses Google Translate?
Based on Google Translates figures, half a billion- that is an insane amount of people! Google Translate has become our online bilingual dictionary- finding words, phrases or even an entire page of text.
Can you trust Google Translate?
Yes and no. You cannot deny its ability to translate.
But a machine can not physically understand the meaning of a sentence. It can translate it word for word- but would the translation flow with the same effect as it would in its source language?
The simple answer is NO. Word for word translation is like Joey writing Monica and Chandler’s adoption letter in Friends:
“Monica: Alright, what was this sentence originally? (shows the sentence to Joey)
Joey: Oh, ‘They are warm, nice, people with big hearts’.
Chandler: And that became ‘they are humid prepossessing Homo Sapiens with full sized aortic pumps…?
Joey: Yeah, yeah and hey, I really mean it, dude.”
What do you think? Sound the same?
But Google hasn’t stopped there!
They now have a Neutral Machine Translation (GNMT). The programme is trained with translations in the hope that it’ll eventually bring out perfect translations, or as close to a human translation as possible. Google translate works on a piece by piece method as I said earlier. So, it will see a whole sentence and translate word for word, rather than looking for the meanings behind the sentence (as a human would) and translate to the best of their ability what the source text means. This new version works on huge volumes of human-translated text- it learns from what it has been taught.
Impressed? But would you want this programme to translate important documents? Sensitive, legal documents? I think not…
So, what about Google’s competition?
‘iTranslate – Your Passport to the World’
iTranslate is an app that works just like Google Translate. The online website states that ‘With iTranslate you can translate text or websites, start voice conversations, lookup words, meanings and even verb conjugations in over 90 languages’. Who wouldn’t want that on their phone?! It would be an ideal travel companion. Able to recognise your voice, translate offline to save on roaming charges. iTranslate also gives you access to previous translations.
Well, on the whole, this sounds great. Does exactly want someone would want – quick and easy translations direct to your phone. You don’t even need an iPhone – Works with various Android and Windows phones as well.
But, do you trust it? This would be ideal if you wanted to go on holiday and didn’t know certain terms or words. Would you really allow this programme to translate your website? Maybe not….
Maybe trust a trained translator writing in their own native language with experience and qualifications to translate some of the most important documents you could have!
One of the first things most people ask me when I say I can speak German and Italian is, “So you can swear in those languages?!”
Of course when I was at school knowing swear words in another language was ‘cool’. It was one of those things that provided hours of entertainment within friends. However, my time spent in the countries was when I really saw this type of language in use.
As in English, swear words are common place in many languages. It is normal to hear words that may be considered mild swear words banded around between Italian friends, particularly when referring to other drivers on the road!
Swearing is referred to with many different names but the word profanity is perhaps the one that best encapsulates these various titles. The word profanity originates from the Latin term pro fano (literally meaning ‘outside the sanctuary’) and was used to refer to things that did not belong to the church.
This connection can clearly be seen as profanities are still unacceptable within religion, but it is also clear that for many people cursing has lost its shock factor. Nowadays it is not unusual to hear young children exclaiming words that would have earned them a swift clip round the earhole not too long ago.
That is not to say that everyone is au fait with bad language, certainly for the majority of people it may still be considered a sign of poor upbringing when a child of 11 calls his friend a series of words that would make a sailor blush.
There is, in fact, an ongoing debate as to whether swearing in public should be made illegal. Even following the ruling by a High Court judge last year that it should not be a punishable offence, the debate continues. In fact, in 2008 police in Preston, north-west England were empowered to fine people caught swearing in public the sum of £80. Throughout history there have been many examples of bills and laws banning swearing and making it a punishable offence, however swearing still remains a central part of everyday life. It is in the media constantly, of course there is still a watershed but it seems that after this hour anything goes.
Writers use swear words to add impact to a character’s lines. To express anger, fear, hatred. Sometimes they are just added in for the sake of it though.
Does this mean that swear words have lost their impact? Some words are used without a second thought, whilst others might cause you to recoil but this is again down to the individual.
Swearing could be made illegal on the basis that using these words is offensive, but offensive to whom? If the majority of people no longer find bad language to be bad then what is the point in banning it?
Some say that swearing dilutes the meaning of languages and affects the range of vocabulary used. I would be inclined to agree.
With swear words at the ready, who needs to be creative with languages? One word to suit many situations means that we no longer feel the need to search for ways of expressing emotion.
What are your thoughts on swear words within different languages? Should swearing be made illegal? Let us know you thoughts via the comment box below.
For more information on the languages we work with here at Lingua Translations, please visit our languages page.