February 23rd, 2015 | 0 Comments | TRAVELLING TIPS
If you travel abroad frequently for work, or if you have an e-commerce store with customers from all over the world, it’s worth noting that there are a number of English words that, phonetically, don’t work in other countries and can lead to double entendre or unintended offence territory. Here are 20 of them to help you ensure that your communication isn’t lost in translation.
Bill. Asking for the bill might raise a few guffaws in the Netherlands: ‘bil’ means ‘buttocks’ there.
Bra. Do you sell luxury underwear? Whilst you and I might initially understand the word to mean a garment that covers the breasts, if you’re in France your French colleagues might think you’re selling arms. Literally.
Bump. If you’ve had the misfortune of a bump on your car, note that the word ‘bump’ in Swedish means ‘dump’.
Cookie. If you’re visiting Hungary, whether on business or for pleasure, avoid asking for a cookie. It means ‘small penis’ in Hungarian.
Cool. The word cool is too close for comfort to the Spanish word ‘culo'; a crude term for ‘bum’. Best avoided.
Exquisite. Extend a compliment to your Portuguese host by describing something belonging to them as ‘exquisite’ and you might be met with askance looks: ‘esquisito’ in Portuguese means ‘weird’.
Fitter. Does your business specialise in fitness products? Be mindful that in Norway, the word ‘fitte’ refers to a woman’s genitals.
Gift. ‘Never look a gift horse in the mouth’, we’re told; perhaps more so in Germany where the word means ‘poison’.
Jerry. It’s perhaps a little late for Ben & Jerry’s ice cream, but if you’re in Japan, avoid using the word – it means ‘diarrhoea’ over there.
Kiss. If you ask your Swedish host or hostess for a kiss, they might very well direct you to the toilets. In Swedish, the word means ‘pee’.
Lager. It might confuse your Dutch colleagues if you were to ask for a ‘lager’ when having a few drinks with them after work. Lager means ‘storage’ in Dutch.
Latte. In Germany, latte doesn’t mean the frothy, milky concoction you get from your local Starbucks. It means ‘erect penis’ in some German quarters.
Pay Day. If you’re in Portugal, refrain from singing with happiness that it’s ‘pay day’. No one will be impressed. In Portuguese it means “I farted”.
Peach. Going to Turkey? Avoid asking for a peach in the supermarket or anywhere else for that matter. It means ‘bastard’ in Turkish.
Pick. If you’re visiting Norway, don’t use the word ‘pick’. Your Norwegian colleague is unlikely to be impressed – it means ‘dick’ over there.
Preservative. Avoid asking about preservatives in France; you’ll probably be met with strange looks. It means ‘condom’ in France.
Salsa. Out for a Mexican in Korea? It’s probably best not to ask for salsa: it means ‘diarrhoea’ in Korean.
Speed bump. Put the above two words together and you have the phrase ‘speed bump’, which in Swedish means fart dump.
Speed. Try not to talk about speed when in the company of others in Sweden. It means ‘fart’.
Tremendous. Refrain from boasting about the tremendous prices you offer your Italy clients. In this country, ‘tremendo’ is the word for ‘terrible’.
That some words can be misinterpreted not only has relevance for those who frequently go abroad on business, as Tictail point out, also for online businesses where ‘borderless’ transactions take place. So if you’ve often wondered why your “exquisite Madagascan chocolates” fly like hotcakes everywhere in the world except Brazil and Portugal, perhaps you now have the answer: weird, dodgy chocolates just won’t sell.
* from various sources.