greenkrokodilla (greenkrokodilla) wrote in linguaphiles,

Cross-language embarrassments

In this Xmas holiday season one feels justified asking sillier questions. So here is one for you.

Once, quite a long time ago, some American (pharmaceutical? drugstore?) company decided to sell juices. So it named its line with a proud name of Dristan. Streets of Los Angeles were full of trucks bearing the company ads with "Dristan Juices" in big letters

One unforeseen consequence of the marketing move was hilarity of the largish LA Russian-speaking immigrant community. The thing is дристать [dristAt'] (stress on the A, last consonant palatalized) means "to have runny shits", in that ruder and non-medical street vocabulary , literally, and дристун [dristUn], while pronounced somewhat differently from "drIstan", is a mere vowel away, and means "someone having shits".
"Diarrhea Juices" is what a Russian eye would read in it.

Supposedly history is full of examples when large corporations had to recall products or rename them in haste, after realizing the deadly mistake (i.e. generating laughter rather than sales). The question is - can you remember more examples of such cross-language embarrassments?
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