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A Car By Any Other Name...

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On: Wed, Apr 16, 2014 at 3:04PM | By: Karen Cook


A Car By Any Other Name...

With the world becoming a global market place, car manufacturers sometimes run into problems when they name new vehicles. It’s hard to take all the various languages around the world into account every time you have a new product, but every now and then not doing the research could cost sales.

Buick released the LaCrosse apparently not realizing that in French the word meant “masturbating teenager”. An alternate meaning is “to trick someone”, but that’s not much better from a marketing standpoint.

Spanish is a widespread language that crosses the boundaries of many, many countries. One would think that Spanish definitions of car names would be checked even if no others were. Obviously not. Chevy named its Nova without taking into account that the words “no va” mean “it doesn’t go” in Spanish. Opel failed to do any research before calling one of its vehicles “Ascona” which refers to female genitalia in Spanish, and Nissan decided its Moco would be a hit even though people in Spain were calling it the “booger”. Luckily, this model was released only in Japan.

The next two unfortunate names can be attributed to the fact that the words translate into something distasteful only in Arabic and Norwegian, languages are not as widely spoken as say Spanish, French or German. The first is from Hyundai who named the Santa Fe before they knew that in the Middle East customers were offered a “Hyundai That Smells Bad”. The second comes from Honda. They produced the Fitta and it was discovered that this word in Norwegian is a very foul slang word for a woman’s private parts. For dealerships in Norway, this vehicle was renamed the “Jazz”.

With access to definitions of words in any language at our finger tips it would seem reasonable these days to find a name that is suitable around the world rather than marketing the same vehicle under a different moniker depending on the location of the sale. And wouldn’t that be cheaper too?


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