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Monday, July 25, 2011

Another localization pitfall: slang

I wonder how often product names are vetted by native speakers of languages when considering marketing something in that region. And if they are, how often slang and rhyming words of dubious character are taken into consideration. 

Certainly, when my employer purchased an electric hatchback car earlier this year (as a corporate vehicle that can be reserved for client visits and such), I was bewildered by the wave of snickering that accompanied the announcement of its name, and the ever so slightly aggrieved way the speaker delivered the news. It turns out that the acronym by which it's called closely approximates an Austrian slang word for "stench". In looking at National German, I see there's also another (less similar sounding) slang term, about which I was not told.

Product namers, beware!

About Mayo

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Professional: As "Senior Enterprise SEO Strategist" in IBM's Digital Marketing division, I provide consulting and training services for both internal and external clients. Formerly I was involved in Natural Language Processing, software localization, quality assurance and documentation authoring.
Personal: INTJ Nikkei Nisei ex-patriated Canadian who takes photographs and enjoys Baroque through late Classical music. The G+ page shares some of the "best of" photos.