Blind Idiot Translation / Folklore

Anecdotes the People of (Folklore)

  • There's the wonderful urban legend that the advertising slogan "Come alive with the Pepsi Generation!" was mistranslated in China as "Pepsi brings your ancestors back from the dead."
  • Allegedly, the expression "Out of sight, out of mind" was once translated from English to Russian, and then back into English. It became "invisible idiot", which makes sense really.
    • As of October 2009, trying this with the Babel Fish online translator yields the utterly incomprehensible result "From the eyes down, from the heart there."note 
      • And now, in 2013, it becomes "But it's not."
  • There's an apocryphal story of the Chevy Nova failing to sell in Spanish-speaking countries because the name transliterates into "No Go" in Spanish. In truth, the English word "Nova," in Spanish, means...Nova. (The two-word-phrase "no va" would indeed mean "doesn't go"— but it's accented totally differently. The myth is equivalent to suggesting a dining room set from Ikea failed in English speaking countries because it was named "Notable.")
  • The Soviet car brand "Zhiguli" whose original models were derived from licensed Fiat designs, when marketed overseas - Top Gear loved to hate the end result of that - was renamed "Lada". The apocryphal story goes, this was to avoid any connotations with "Gigolo" for possible Western customers.