17 English words to avoid when doing international business

English words that don’t work well in Dutch

English word: Bill 
Dutch interpretation: The man’s name Bill sounds like the Dutch word ‘bil,’ which means bum or buttocks. Therefore, if your name is Bill, and you use it in your branding, it might inadvertently raise a few sniggers amongst Dutch customers. 

English word: Cut
Dutch interpretation: Whatever you do, don’t set-up a business and use the word ‘cuts’ in the name and take it over to the Netherlands: in Dutch it sounds like the slang term c*nt. Cut is similar to ‘kut,’ which is the ‘c’ word in the Netherlands. 

English word: Lager
Dutch translation: The word ‘lager’ will cause most English speakers think of beer; however, in Dutch the word lager translates to ‘lower’ or ‘storage’. Marketing lager to the Dutch might be problematic if they think you’re selling storage. 

English words that don’t work well in Italian

English word: Tremendous 
Italian interpretation: Be careful when translating your brand message about ‘tremendous savings’ into Italian or Spanish – it could be interpreted as horrific or awfully poor savings. In Italian the word ‘tremendo’ means terrible. And, at all costs, avoid ill-considered alliterations when using your own name. For example, ‘Tom’s Tremendous Tupperware’ will call-to-mind amongst Italians or Spaniards ‘Atrocious Tupperware by Tom.’
General European language blunders with English words

English word: Preservative
Interpretation: Be careful when using the term preservative, as in jam, when marketing to Continental Europeans. Your brand promise of ‘homemade preservatives’ might be interpreted to mean that you’re peddling ‘homemade condoms’ in Spain, Italy, France, Germany, and many other European Countries. 

English words that don’t work well in Norwegian

English word: Fitter

Interpretation: ‘Fitte’ is a vulgar Norwegian word to describe a woman’s intimate parts. So a business promising to help you ‘get fit’ might well raise eyebrows in Norway.

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