An Amusing Mistranslation that Names a Bird and not a Nation

Translating words that have 2 or multiple meanings can be tricky. Choosing the right translation for a word as it is used in a sentence or phrase is critical and should be done with care and diligence or else confusion will arise.

This shirt label, like other apparel labels, indicates where the piece of apparel was manufactured. Obviously what you need is a name of a country and not something else. The English name of the country is Turkey, which in French is Turquie but definitely not “Pavo” in Spanish.

Although “Pavo” is indeed a Spanish word which in English does mean turkey, that Spanish translation refers to the large fowl which is a Thanksgiving favorite and not Turkey, the transcontinental Eurasian country that lies between Asia and Europe.

Of the 193 countries in the world only two have names that are names of animals. One is Turkey and the second one Peru, which is the Portuguese term for turkey, the bird. Interesting.

The correct Spanish translation for Turkey, the nation should have been Turquia and not Pavo. For the Spanish speaking population this apparel label would have elicited surprised reactions, smiles or even laughter.

Wrong translations like this may be funny and amusing for some but it may not be a laughing stock for some. Like for example, the Turkish people. Who would want their country to be named something else other than its real name?

Wrong labels leave a bad impression too of the company that’s using the label. It indicates carelessness, a lack of thoroughness or steady attention to details on their side.

The Internet has simplified a lot of processes. Looking for word equivalents in almost any language can be done with great convenience and speed, but care must be exercised lest a wrong word choice may lead to confusion.

Image credit – submitted by Diana Alvarez

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