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Corporate Blunders: Part 4

Corporate Blunders

Last updated on November 22nd, 2017 at 01:31 pm

False Cognates

Oftentimes it is assumed that a word in one language is meaningless in another.

For example: in the United States there are often untranslated product names that, while consumers may not understand the meaning of the name, customers do acknowledge it as a legitimately ethnic product.

Sometimes, however, this is not the case. When a product name is left untranslated it could be a false cognate.

It could be harmless, or on the other hand it can be image ruining.

There are countless examples of the false cognate β€œmist,” which is a word in both English and German.

Mist, in English, means a wispy cloud of liquid.
Mist, in German, means manure or dung.

Some companies that made this oversight:

Irish Mist Whiskey.
Clairol Mist Stick

The company that noticed:

Rolls Royce planned to call the successor to their β€œSilver Cloud,” the β€œSilver Mist,” but renamed it the β€œSilver Shadow,” prior to production, after realizing the car’s unintended German meaning.


Avoid these brand ruining issues by working with a reliable translation agency with experience in Global Marketing.

Jackie Ruffolo
Jackie Ruffolo
Jackie was born in Venezuela and has a BS in computer engineering. As President of JR Language, she spends time researching new technology and productivity tools for the Company. She holds a certificate of Localization and Project Management- Localization. Through her many years of experience working in multilingual corporate environments, she understands firsthand the value of bridging language barriers in creating smooth communication that allows for productive and happy work environments. She is fluent in Spanish and English, and is a frequent contributor to both our English and Spanish blogs. 20 Years of experience in marketing Jackie loves nature and to be outdoors.