WTF Fun Fact 13543 – KFC Slogan Lost in Translation

KFC prides itself on its famous slogan, “It’s finger-lickin’ good.” The line captures the essence of KFC’s promise: irresistibly tasty chicken that might compel diners to lick their fingers, savoring every drop of flavor.

Well, that didn’t exactly translate well when KFC expanded into China in the 1980s.

A Finger-Lickin’ Faux Pas

Successfully entering a new market involves more than just setting up shops; it’s about making sure the brand’s message resonates with the local populace.

In the 1980s, KFC translated its iconic slogan into Mandarin to appeal to the Chinese market. But this attempt resulted in a phrase that sounded less than delicious.

“Finger-lickin’ good” became something more like “Eat your fingers off.”

So instead of imagining the delightful experience of enjoying KFC’s chicken, Chinese customers encountered an oddly gruesome suggestion.

The KFC Slogan Gets Lost in Translation

Effective translation isn’t a straightforward task. It requires deep knowledge of local idioms, expressions, and cultural subtleties.

Mandarin, with its intricate tones and nuances, can entirely shift the meaning of phrases. Furthermore, the richness of Chinese culture, steeped in symbols and metaphors, means brands must navigate carefully.

Of course, upon recognizing the error, KFC immediately set things right. The company collaborated with local experts to refine its brand message for the Chinese audience.

Beyond just a slogan correction, KFC began to delve into Chinese culinary preferences, introducing menu items such as congee, Beijing Duck wraps, and spicy Sichuan chicken.

It kind of sounds like something they should have done to begin with…right?

Getting It Right

KFC’s initial hiccup in China highlights the crucial importance of cultural sensitivity for international businesses. While the “Eat your fingers off” incident brings chuckles now, it could have tarnished KFC’s image among Chinese customers permanently.

However, today, KFC has thousands of outlets across China and enjoys a reputation as one of the country’s top fast-food chains. Its dedication to understanding Chinese tastes and culture played a significant role in this achievement.

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Source: “The Hilarious Translation Mistake KFC China Made With Its Slogan” — Mashed

WTF Fun Fact 12423 – The Hebrew Hobbit

In 1970, ten Israeli Air Force pilots and their comrades were captured during the War of Attrition between Israel and Egypt, Jordan, the Palestine Liberation Organisation (PLO), and their allies. The conflict lasted from 1967 to 1970, but the POWs were not released until 1973.

While in captivity, the men were eventually allowed to spend time together, albeit in a cramped cell. One distraction from their years-long nightmare came in the form of a book that one of the pilots was carrying. Yitzchak Fir’s brother had sent him a copy of J.R.R. Tolkien’s The Hobbit: Or There and Back Again. However, the book was in English, and not all captives could read it.

That’s when four of the pilots who could read English decided to translate the book for their fellow captives. Avinoam Kaldes, Rami Harpaz, Menachem Eini, and Yitzchak Fir first translated select parts and expressions. But once they realized it gave them a sense of purpose and a means of distraction. So they decided to translate the entire book from beginning to end.

It was a difficult task (and if you’ve read The Hobbit, you know that the poems in the book make translation particularly difficult). But working in pairs and editing the final draft, they finally got it done in four months.

It’s by no means the best Hebrew translation of The Hobbit, but it has the most remarkable story behind it. Their translation was formally published in 1977 by Zmora Bitan Publishers (in part with funding from the Israeli Air Force). – WTF Fun Facts

Source: “Translating “The Hobbit” in Captivity” — The Librarians