Product names lost in translation?

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by Debora Russi


We all know various examples from all sorts of industries which failed to check their product names in other languages. Just today I have read an article in the Wall Street Journal which described another example of product names lost in translation. The Swedish furniture giant IKEA named his bed frame Redalen after a town in Norway, which sounds like a Thai term for sexual intercourse. The plant pot Jättebra also sounds like an impolite term for the sex act. Almost all IKEA products have tongue-twisting Scandinavian names which bring a unique character to the whole product line and play part of the marketing strategy. Nevertheless, one needs to keep in mind that those names can also have other meanings in other languages. What now? Next time it would be better to hire a translation service or do you want to own a car that is called “Pajero” which in Spanish means “wanker”?  Linguistic land mines are all over the places and if businesses are to be successful on the international stage they must be sure that the message is communicated properly in foreign languages.

Enjoy your week!


Short insight into “Everything you ever wanted to know about translation”


by Debora Russi

I have recently read this newly published book: “Everything you ever wanted to know about translation” written by Ms. Lola Bendana, Director of Multi-Languages Corporation, and Mr. Alan Melby, professor of Linguistics at Brigham Young University. Needless to say that both authors are seasoned veterans in the fascinating field of translation. Lola has been involved in the translation and interpreting business for over 20 years; since 1997, she has been the Director of Multi-Languages Corporation. Alan Melby is not only professor of Linguistics but also member of the ATA Board of Directors and senior member of several standard development organizations and started his career in translation over 40 years ago.

The book is packed with basic information and pithy explanations about translation and its process and is written in plain English. Whether you are completely new to the world of translation, or a requester of translation services, or an armchair expert, you’ll find plenty of practical advice. The two parts of the book are aimed at different audiences: the first one is for everyone and especially for requesters of translation services and the other one is especially for translators and project managers. It really is a handy educational tool and offers in the second section certification and revision guidelines which are very helpful for all people involved in the translation process. One of the main focuses in this publication is translation quality.

But how do we measure quality in translation?

By setting up a quality measurement system via appropriate specifications which makes a huge difference and helps all parties involved in the process to clearly identify issues and the root causes of possible conflicts. Like it says in the book: “When requesters and providers collaborate and keep end-users (those who actually use the translation) in mind, everyone wins”.

Furthermore, you find in the appendices several links to valuable resources such as professional associations, glossaries and termbases, code of ethics and translation standards.

And last but not least you find a glossary of terms and definitions for the translation industry in this book.

I would highly recommend this reading to anyone who is trying to put the pieces together when it comes to the business side of translation. It is a relatively easy read and the format facilitates rapidly looking up a specific point of interest.

If you are curious now, you find the downloadable version of this book for free under:


Have a wonderful week!