Selecting a new name for your company or product can be hectic enough. Selecting a name that’s translated badly or otherwise misinterpreted can be downright disastrous. Just ask Texas pizza company Pizza Patron, Microsoft’s Xbox division, or, American Idol singer Susan Boyle.
Pizza Patron’s Mistranslation
The Texas based pizza-patron chain recently found itself in trouble with broadcasters and franchisees refusing to advertise its new pizza dubbed “La Chingona.” The pizza’s name translates most politely into “The Badass.” It is more commonly translated into something more profane and similar to the English F-word. In this case the company probably meant for the name to be slightly cheeky, but failed to realize how cheeky it would be taken. In the next two cases, we see what happens with unintentional and unintended bad translations
Microsoft’s X-Box Japanese Mistranslation
When Microsoft moved their Xbox into the Japanese market they failed to take into account what an “X” in Japanese means. The X in Japanese is pronounced “Batsu” and means wrong, incorrect or do not want. It’s similar to our checkmark and X when referring to grading a test. It’s more engrained across Japanese culture and goes beyond grades however. Given this cultural understanding of X, when presented to the Japanese market the Xbox was seen as “Bad Box” and “A box you do not want.” Not the best thing for a gaming console to be associated with.
Susan Boyle’s Hashtag Translation
By far the worst of the three, Susan Boyle’s twitter boondoggle has been used to educate many on poor Hashtags. Susan Boyle launched her 2012 album with the hashtag #SusanAlbumParty to help promote it. This hashtag quickly had its capitalization arrangement on Twitter confused to mean a sexual reference. The hashtag quickly became satire fodder for Twitter users.
How to Avoid Your Mistranslation
There are many more out there, some being created ficticiously and becoming urban legend like the Chevrolet Nova being renamed in Spain due to meaning “no go,” to the mundane such as Hulu meaning “cease and desist” in Swahili.
Learning from these mistakes is easy. Just be sure to to analyze your hashtags, play around with your letters and make sure the arrangement can’t create a different sentence, and check to make sure your hashtag isn’t already being commonly used. In terms of translation, simply running a check through a free translation service is a quick and easy way to . Another important factor with hashtags is ensuring the hashtag you’re using isn’t already popular with another brand or organization. You don’t want “noise” or irrelevant content to be polluting your hashtag, as it will confuse your audience.