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Wordsmiths in the ‘poo’ again

In our ‘Motoring Myths’ quiz last month we alluded to funny translations for car names. The example we gave  ( ‘Holden’ means underpants in Swahili) was a myth. But truth is often stranger than fiction, witness Audi and their latest creation, an electric car that has been named the “e-tron”. Sounds harmless enough, unless you’re French, where it is similar in meaning to ‘merde’ – or ‘crap’. No doubt that will put the Audi wordsmiths in the vernacular!

Audi e-tron

But this is not the first time it’s happened. General Motors launched its ‘Nova” car in Latin American markets, but hastened to a name change when they found that a rough translation into Spanish means ‘Don’t Go”.

In Australia we are familiar with the Mitsubishi Pajero, and again that needed a hasty name change in Spanish markets as it’s a Spanish slang word for masturbation.

Perhaps the most embarrassing name failure was undertaken by Ford in the US when they marketed their very successful Ford ‘Pinto’  car. But it was a dismal failure in Brazil, because in Brazilian it means ‘small penis’. No wonder it flopped!

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