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Coca-Cola apologizes for offensive bottle cap

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Steve Kerry  Identity Verified
Local time: 05:22
German to English
Offence Sep 29, 2013

Anyone who is offended by a mistranslation on a bottle top needs to seriously reconsider their self-image.

Steve K.


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Fiona Grace Peterson  Identity Verified
Italy
Local time: 06:22
Member
Italian to English
Did you read the article? Sep 29, 2013

If you had read the article Steve, I think you would at least know why people are a little offended.
Coca Cola makes huge profits - they could at least use some of them to get a professional translation.


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Ty Kendall  Identity Verified
United Kingdom
Local time: 05:22
Hebrew to English
Meh Sep 29, 2013

“What would you do if you opened up your bottle of Vitamin Water and on the bottom of the lid it read, “YOU RETARD”?”

I'd laugh and/or do an eyeroll, depending on my mood.

Offence can only be taken, not given.

There's an offence industry in England at the moment though so I'm probably just a bit apathetic to such things on principle.

Bit of a non-story, n'est-ce pas?


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Andy Watkinson
Spain
Local time: 06:22
Member
Catalan to English
+ ...
Did you read the article? Sep 29, 2013

Fiona Peterson wrote:

If you had read the article Steve, I think you would at least know why people are a little offended.
Coca Cola makes huge profits - they could at least use some of them to get a professional translation.


Where does translation come into this?

The article, (Fiona), states that this was apparently nothing to do with translation.

It was a competition/promotion involving "random" combinations/pairings of words in Eng/Fra.

Sounds a bit daft without more details but who knows?

Language related, yep.
Translation related, nope.


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Tom in London
United Kingdom
Local time: 05:22
Member (2008)
Italian to English
Well... Sep 29, 2013

Ref. this article http://tinyurl.com/nw7yhdj

Executive director Michael F. Jacobson, of The Center for Science in the Public Interest, says that:

"The marketing of vitaminwater will go down in history as one of the boldest and brashest attempts ever to affix a healthy halo to what is essentially a junk food, a non-carbonated soda. Vitaminwater, like Coca-Cola itself, promotes weight gain, obesity, diabetes, heart disease, and cannot deliver on any of the dishonest claims it has made over the years."

So to anyone who objects to a word inside the bottle top, I would suggest: refocus.


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Samuel Murray  Identity Verified
Netherlands
Local time: 06:22
Member (2006)
English to Afrikaans
+ ...
Besides, Sep 30, 2013

Steve Kerry wrote:
Anyone who is offended by a mistranslation on a bottle top needs to seriously reconsider their self-image.


Besides, "retard" is only an insult if you're not a true retard. Which this person's little sibling is.


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Tomás Cano Binder, BA, CT  Identity Verified
Spain
Local time: 06:22
Member (2005)
English to Spanish
+ ...
Bored society Sep 30, 2013

Unfortunately we seem to be living in a bored society where important things (human rights, religious freedom, advancement of democracy in the world) are put aside... so that we can put all our concentration on the feelings of one individual about a bottle cap.

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Amel Abdullah  Identity Verified
Jordan
Arabic to English
+ ...
Really, Samuel? Sep 30, 2013

The word’s English connotation was missed during the review process, said a spokesperson.


The above is what makes it translation-related as there is a review process that should take place when exposing speakers of one language to another in the marketing world. In this case, the word "retard" should have been flagged as a word with the potential to offend. As Fiona stated, Coca-Cola certainly has the budget to localize their marketing materials.

Besides, "retard" is only an insult if you're not a true retard. Which this person's little sibling is.


I have no idea what people in South Africa, the UK, or any other country think of this word, but your statement would be extremely offensive to people in the United States as we do not call people with physical or mental handicaps or disabilities "retards". And from a parent's point of view, I can see why it would be very upsetting if a child with autism or another condition opened the bottle to find such a statement.

We are linguists and should, I believe, care about such nuances.


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Alex Lago  Identity Verified
Spain
Local time: 06:22
Member (2009)
English to Spanish
+ ...
Did you read the article? Sep 30, 2013

Andy Watkinson wrote:

Fiona Peterson wrote:

If you had read the article Steve, I think you would at least know why people are a little offended.
Coca Cola makes huge profits - they could at least use some of them to get a professional translation.


Where does translation come into this?

The article, (Fiona), states that this was apparently nothing to do with translation.

It was a competition/promotion involving "random" combinations/pairings of words in Eng/Fra.

Sounds a bit daft without more details but who knows?

Language related, yep.
Translation related, nope.



The article literally says:
Representatives for Coca-Cola have since stated that the language inside of the cap was the product of a competition pairing one random English word with a second random French word. In French, “retard” means “late” or “delayed.” The word’s English connotation was missed during the review process, said a spokesperson

The "review process" should have been conducted by linguists so Fiona’s comment was right.


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Andy Watkinson
Spain
Local time: 06:22
Member
Catalan to English
+ ...
Yes Sep 30, 2013

Alex Lago wrote:

Andy Watkinson wrote:

Fiona Peterson wrote:

If you had read the article Steve, I think you would at least know why people are a little offended.
Coca Cola makes huge profits - they could at least use some of them to get a professional translation.


Where does translation come into this?

The article, (Fiona), states that this was apparently nothing to do with translation.

It was a competition/promotion involving "random" combinations/pairings of words in Eng/Fra.

Sounds a bit daft without more details but who knows?

Language related, yep.
Translation related, nope.



The article literally says:
Representatives for Coca-Cola have since stated that the language inside of the cap was the product of a competition pairing one random English word with a second random French word. In French, “retard” means “late” or “delayed.” The word’s English connotation was missed during the review process, said a spokesperson

The "review process" should have been conducted by linguists so Fiona’s comment was right.


Alex, I said it had nothing to do with translation.
If you think "pairing one random English word with a second random French word" (sic) is translation, "apaga y vámonos".

Where does Fiona's "professional translation" com into this?


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Madeleine MacRae Klintebo  Identity Verified
United Kingdom
Local time: 05:22
Swedish to English
+ ...
Crack (as in what happened to my chin, not the drug) Sep 30, 2013

Amel Abdullah wrote:

Besides, "retard" is only an insult if you're not a true retard. Which this person's little sibling is.


I have no idea what people in South Africa, the UK, or any other country think of this word, but your statement would be extremely offensive to people in the United States as we do not call people with physical or mental handicaps or disabilities "retards". And from a parent's point of view, I can see why it would be very upsetting if a child with autism or another condition opened the bottle to find such a statement.


The term is just as offensive in the UK. My chin hit the floor when I read that statement by Samuel.


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Helen Shiner  Identity Verified
United Kingdom
Local time: 05:22
Member (2008)
German to English
+ ...
Responsibilities of companies Sep 30, 2013

There does seem to be an issue with such companies losing track and apparently not caring about potential, justified offence when using computer-generated slogans for use on their products. What is interesting is that these slogans do not see the light of day if they are gibberish, so somebody must be ensuring that, however offensive, they do go through some kind of selection or approval process. Were it just simply that the slogans were chosen by customers, that would be another matter.

Here is another related story from earlier this year involving Amazon: http://www.theguardian.com/technology/2013/mar/02/amazon-withdraws-rape-slogan-shirt

[Edited at 2013-09-30 13:18 GMT]


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Tom in London
United Kingdom
Local time: 05:22
Member (2008)
Italian to English
Offence Sep 30, 2013

Helen Shiner wrote:

There does seem to be an issue with such companies losing track and apparently not caring about potential, justified offence when using computer-generated slogans for use on their products. What is interesting is that these slogans do not see the light of day if they are gibberish, so somebody must be ensuring that, however offensive, they do go through some kind of selection or approval process. Where it just simply that the slogans were chosen by customers, that would be another matter.

Here is another related story from earlier this year involving Amazon: http://www.theguardian.com/technology/2013/mar/02/amazon-withdraws-rape-slogan-shirt


It's not the wording on the label that's offensive; it's the product itself.


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Helen Shiner  Identity Verified
United Kingdom
Local time: 05:22
Member (2008)
German to English
+ ...
Products versus slogans Sep 30, 2013

Tom in London wrote:

Helen Shiner wrote:

There does seem to be an issue with such companies losing track and apparently not caring about potential, justified offence when using computer-generated slogans for use on their products. What is interesting is that these slogans do not see the light of day if they are gibberish, so somebody must be ensuring that, however offensive, they do go through some kind of selection or approval process. Where it just simply that the slogans were chosen by customers, that would be another matter.

Here is another related story from earlier this year involving Amazon: http://www.theguardian.com/technology/2013/mar/02/amazon-withdraws-rape-slogan-shirt


It's not the wording on the label that's offensive; it's the product itself.


T-shirts are offensive? Or Coca-Cola?

I guess you are missing the point of my post.


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Samuel Murray  Identity Verified
Netherlands
Local time: 06:22
Member (2006)
English to Afrikaans
+ ...
Oh, just tired of oversensitivity Sep 30, 2013

Amel Abdullah wrote:
Samuel wrote:
Besides, "retard" is only an insult if you're not a true retard. Which this person's little sibling is.

I have no idea what people in South Africa, the UK, or any other country think of this word, but your statement would be extremely offensive to people in the United States as we do not call people with physical or mental handicaps or disabilities "retards". ... We are linguists and should, I believe, care about such nuances.


Well, let's talk about this. Why is "retard" such a negative word? I think it is because the word has been used for so long to describe people whose development have not truly been "retarded" in the clinical sense, so that eventually the word became a mere insult rather than an accurate description of a condition.

It is unfortunately so that words that [used to] have a neutral meaning sometimes get used as an insult for so long that even people to whom the word originally applied get offended by it. These days you can't even call blind people "blind" or deaf people "deaf" because these words have been used to describe non-blind and non-deaf people in derogatory ways for so long that even truly blind and truly deaf people are expected to be offended when you say it.

And while a deaf or blind person likely has sufficient intelligence to know that he is meant to feel insulted by the term, a truly retarded person is likely actually unaware of it. So the only people who feel offended by the term would be people to whom the term do not apply.

We are linguists and should, I believe, care about such nuances.


That is true, but it doesn't prevent us from wishing it was a simpler world.

Madeleine MacRae Klintebo wrote:
The term is just as offensive in the UK.


I admit, it can certainly be used as an insult in South Africa (but then you have to say it with an insulting tone of voice), and I'll give it to you that no medical practitioner is likely to use the word to refer to a person who is clinically retarded (though whether that is because they would feel uncertain about how their colleagues might regard them or simply because it is an outdated term, I can't say).

As far as I know, the term is not offensive in South Africa by default, and I'm surprised to discover that there are places in the world where the term is actually deemed offensive, as opposed to merely insulting.

Added:

The term "mentally retarded" is, however, still the most common term (in public and in academia) in South Africa for that which it is considered that "mentally disabled" or "intellectually disabled" are better terms. When you say you find the term "retard" offensive, do you also mean you find the term "mentally regarded" offensive? Or just the word "retard" used on its own?


[Edited at 2013-09-30 14:11 GMT]


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Coca-Cola apologizes for offensive bottle cap

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