One of our deepest desires is to be understood. We often fail to convey our thoughts to the people, closest to us, speaking the same language, dialect, knowing us forever. Needles to say it is hard to send a message to the multi-lingual world. Hey, world, do you understand me? Did that expert translator give you a slightest idea of what I meant to tell you?

We work on our advertisements, thoroughly choosing the most adequate words to describe our fabulous product. But can we be sure that the consumer, especially a foreign one, reads us properly? Maybe he has a totally foreign idea of what he is buying. Maybe he is buying our product for a totally wrong reason. And maybe this is not too bad, as long as he is buying our product.

When Parker Pen marketed a ball-point pen in Mexico, its ads were supposed to have read, "It won't leak in your pocket and embarrass you." The company thought that the word "embarazar" (to impregnate) meant to embarrass, so the ad turned to be: "It won't leak in your pocket and make you pregnant". Who cares what the buyers fell for, since the sale went up?

Pepsi's "Come Alive with the Pepsi Generation" was translated to Chinese as "Pepsi Brings Your Ancestors Back From the Grave". Considering how deep oriental people are connected with their deceased, it worked for the campaign’s success.

Frank Perdue's chicken slogan, "It takes a strong man to make a tender chicken" was translated into Spanish as "it takes an aroused man to make a chicken affectionate." No one would consciously come up with this idea, but it definitely made the advertisement quite engaging.
The Dairy Association's huge success with the campaign "Got Milk?" prompted them to expand advertising to Mexico. It was soon brought to their attention that the Spanish translation read "Are you lactating?" Finally, a thoughtful product for the breastfeeding consumer population.
When American Airlines wanted to advertise its new leather first class seats in the Mexican market, it translated its "Fly In Leather" campaign literally, which meant "Fly Naked" (vuela en cuero) in Spanish. Isn’t it a tempting offer?

But not all translation hiccups can expand the unexpected buyers market. Some can totally kill the sale.

Scandinavian vacuum manufacturer Electrolux used the following in an American campaign: "Nothing sucks like an Electrolux."

Coors put its slogan, "Turn It Loose," into Spanish, where it was read as "Suffer From Diarrhea."

Clairol introduced the "Mist Stick," a curling iron, into Germany only to find out that "mist" is slang for manure. Not too many people had use for the "Manure Stick."

We probably should put an end to non-professional translations. Or would that remove too much enjoyment from our travels? The memories of a good laugh over a hilarious announcement for English-speaking tourists are as valuable as the photos of international landmarks.

- Cocktail lounge, Norway: “Ladies are requested not to have children in the bar”.
- In a Swiss Mountain inn: “Special today – No ice-cream”.
- A sign seen on an automatic restroom hand dryer in Germany: “Do not activate with wet hands”.
- Tourist agency, Czech Republic: “Take one of our horse-driven city tours. We guarantee no miscarriages”.
- In an Italian cemetery: “Persons are prohibited from picking flowers from any but their own graves”.
- Tokyo hotel's rules and regulations: “Guests are requested not to smoke or do other disgusting behaviors in bed”.
- At a Budapest zoo: “Please do not feed the animals. If you have any suitable food, give it to the guard on duty”.
- Doctor's office, Rome: “Specialist in women and other diseases”.
- Tokyo hotel: “It is forbidden to steal hotel towels. If you are not a person to do such a thing, please not read this notice”.
- Greece tailor shop: “Order your summer suits early. Because of the big rush we will execute customers in strict rotation”.
- Japanese hotel:”Cold and Heat: If you want to condition your room, please control yourself”.
- The translation of the Ethnic Minorities Park in Beijing for a long time was Racist Park.
- Instructions for a soap bubble gun translated from Japanese to English: “While solution is not toxic it will not make child edible”.

The funniest thing about this kind of fun is that we totally understand, what they meant to say. We are also lost in all these homophones, homographs and, god forbid, homonyms. What to expect from foreigners? Just fun. Good harmless fun. Or we can generate more fun by following the confused instructions. We can play dumb and enjoy ourselves. Or we can be honestly dumb and put ourselves in trouble.

- Sign over the information booth in a Beijing railroad station: “Question authority” - can explain opportunistic movements.
- Japanese hotel:”You are invited to take advantage of the women who are employed to clean rooms”. - Finally, it is official. No lawsuit. You were invited.
- On the menu of a Swiss restaurant: “Our wines leave you nothing to hope for”. - And this is a ground for a lawsuit.
- German camping site:”It is strictly forbidden on our Black Forest camping site that people of different sex, for instance, men and women, live together in one tent unless they are married with each other for that purpose”. - Some people of different gender (for example, a man and a woman) might actually get hitched just to camp in Black Forest.
- Hong Kong tailor shop:”Ladies may have a fit upstairs”. - These guys are so nice to women. It is nothing like the pleasure of having a fit in a public place.
- Athens hotel:”Visitors are expected to complain at the office between the hours of 9 and 11 am daily”. - Try your best and find something to complain about. You gonna do what you gonna do.
- Bangkok dry cleaners:”Drop your trousers here for best results”. – Come on, guys, loosen up!
- Rome laundry (same idea for the girls):”Ladies, please leave your clothes here and spend the afternoon having a good time”.
Getting lost in translation is like getting off the appropriate track of grammatical and political correctness. Can be fun sometimes. And sometimes can be a disaster. After all, we really want to be understood.