In addition to being part of an interesting community, I use this blog to keep my English skills in working order. I hope I manage to make myself understood. It is not so easy with a foreign language. My grandfather got to experience that. He signed on board the freighter Polar Fart. In Norwegian fart means to travel, or be traveling. After the first quay in Glasgow the crew re-baptized the ship with a single stroke of paint to Polar Traveller.
A couple of years ago I had a visit by an Englishman. He howled his laughter over signs that alerted for Fartshump, and had to get out of the car and take a picture of each eternal one. The signs are there to get alert drivers of bumps in the road and to reduce speed. I didn`t know that hump is slang for intercourse. I do know what fart is. Humping and farting is an en embarrassing combination, that knows everyone who has tried it.
Another friend of mine worked for a period as a telemarketer, but had to take off the rest of the day off when a potential customer was Englishman and she had to ask for Steve Pick. In Norwegian the pronouncement of Steve means hard and Pick means dick. Lessons learned was also she who started an IT company and called it FagWeb it. In Norwegian Fag means skills or science. After very many hits via American homoerotic sites, she changed the name to e-profile.
One should tread carefully when it comes to international launch of national products. Kavli is one of the biggest food companies in Norway, but in Greece they had trouble launching their goods. No wonder, since the Kavli (Καβλί) in Greek means erect penis (am I right, Jeff?). For the same reason Ford never sold any models of Ford Pinto in Portugal, where Pinto means small penis. It also went wrong for Chevrolet when they in the 80s launched the car model Nova in Latin America. Nova means star in Spanish but in Latin America means Nova "does not go". In France it went wrong with Toyota's launch of the sports car MR2. The French pronunciation of the letter and number combination is namely merde, witch means shit/damn - isn`t that so, Cara?
There are several car companies who have committed advertising blunders as a result of imprudence or ignorance about the choice of name. Prior to launch in the Nordic market, Honda had to change model name on Honda Fitta to Honda Jazz, as fitta is a Norwegian name for the female genitalia. The wife of a friend of mine in Japan had one of those cars. In the advertising brochure he could read that "Fitta is small on the outside but big inside" and "Fitta is a daily pleasure". It goes with the story that Honda previously dropped the model name Pervo.
The people in the hotel industry also have their challenges. In my hometown Larvik we have Farris Bad Hotel (Bad; norw. bath/spa) and a little further north is the village of Hell (hell; norw. slope/hill). There will you also find the city hotel, wishing you Welcome to Hell.
Jorn Lier Horst