Japanese Products That Sound Awful In English

Japanese Products That Sound Awful in English

Japan has come up with some truly fantastic English product names. "PlayStation", for example, is terrific. Then, there are some product names that are bad. Wonderfully so.

Picture: Elleair

This isn't really Japan's fault. The country's language, like English, borrows a bunch of foreign words and has done so for hundreds of years. In Japanese, these words and phrases become "gairaigo" (外来語) or literally, "words that come from abroad." They're Japanese, but foreign in origin. To the Japanese ear, these borrowed words and phrases might sound A-OK! English can often take on a different meaning or nuance when it's absorbed by the Japanese language, just like English gives foreign words new meanings when it takes words from other languages.

There are product names that might have gotten snickers when native English speakers first heard them, but have been used so often that those original associations have fallen by the wayside. Good examples of this are "Wii" (remember those pee jokes?) and "Pocket Monsters" (heh). I don't think English speakers really make those connections anymore! Then, there are product names that don't quite make the leap to the Western world.

So, let's have a look at some more Japanese products with some unfortunate meanings in English.

Calpis

Japanese Products That Sound Awful in English

Picture: アサヒグループ公式チャンネル

This might be the most infamous example: "Calpis" sounds like "cow piss" to many English speakers. Calpis was created in 1919 and its name refers to "calcium" and "salpis", a sanskrit word that refers to milk fermentation. In the US, Calpis is branded as "Calpico". Because, you know, cow piss.

In Japanese slang, "calpis" can also refer to cum, obviously due to the drink's colour. Heh.

MOS Burger

Japanese Products That Sound Awful in English

Picture: Wiki

It's not "Moss Burger", which English speakers might think the first time they hear this burger chain's name. "MOS" refers to "Mountain", "Ocean" and "Sea". As far as fast food goes in Japan, Mos is one of my favourites.

Collon

Japanese Products That Sound Awful in English

That's just one "l" away from a proctologist. In Japanese, the human organ known as the colon is called "daichou" in Japanese. "Collon" actually refers to the Japanese "ころんころん" (koronkoron), which means "lighting rolling (of a small and round thing)". Obviously, native Japanese speakers quickly pick up on this association and don't think about inner organs.

Pocari Sweat

Japanese Products That Sound Awful in English

Many first time visitors to Japan might find this drink's name somewhat baffling. Are you drinking sweat? Is this because you sweat? Me, I don't think it's that bad of a name!

Creap

Japanese Products That Sound Awful in English

While it's written as "c-r-e-a-p", there are ads in which famous Japanese celebrities scream what sounds like "creep." According to Creap's official site, the product's name is actually short for "creaming powder" (クリーミングパウダー or kuriimingu paudaa). Thus, "Creap". It's been around for 50 years, so I doubt the name will change.

The title of this ad, which stars actor Miho Kanno, is called "My Creep." Sorry, "My Creap."

Goo.n

Japanese Products That Sound Awful in English

When you think of babies, you probably think they look cute! Not like, well, goons. In Japanese, the product name (グ〜ン) of these diapers is an onomatopoeia word that means "to grow".

Via Naver, here are some more products with iffy English from over the years:

Deepresso

Japanese Products That Sound Awful in English

It's supposed to be a "deep espresso", but it sounds like one downer of a drink.

Diet Water

Japanese Products That Sound Awful in English

Because regular water has so many calories.

Hot Calpis

Japanese Products That Sound Awful in English

Picture: leather-order

Who wants cold cow piss?

It doesn't really matter that these product names have different nuances in English. They are intended for Japanese-speakers. And I really think that this discrepancy in meaning is fine! Because just as the country will continue to come up with English product names that can sound odd to native English speakers, it will keep using English to make new names that work out incredibly well.


Comments

    I think Goon is wonderful, why is that bad? All kids are little goons. If it was a juice or something then because of Australian Goon and Goon-bags it'd be bad, but even then, what a patriotic kids drink.

    My favourite Japanese product is Razor Ramon Sumitani, otherwise known as Hard Gay. Fuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuu------------------------------------------

    https://youtu.be/U3EC3Fi7utc

    I still like the literal translation they used for a french-breadshop in Tokyo. What better than to call your shop ' World of Pain'. It has an awesome green giant on top of it too.

    Moss burger burgers are awesome.

      Overhyped, small and bland - I dont get what all the fuss is about it unless its the whole "cool Japan" thing

      New York Minute - those are awesome burgers

      (predicting I'll be down-voted for having an opinion... sad)

      Last edited 05/05/15 10:05 am

        Downvoted for predicting you'd be downvoted. Shoulda just stuck with the post =)

          LOL

          Nah I reckon I saved myself about 8-10 down-votes!

            Second downvote for thinking you'd get away with it ;)

        I never found them small or bland, and I get a burger that looks so much closer to the picture they show of the burger than any other burger place ever.

        As far as Fast food burgers go I still think they are the best I've had.

    I've had Pocari Sweat before... Never again

      Its just a lemon drink... great when you are dehydrated or if you have the runs

      Powerade in lemon flavour!

        THIS!!! All of this. It is freaking delicious when you've been smashing the ski runs all day ( on and off the mountain hur hur hur) and need something a bit sweeter than water.

    Pocari Sweat is the greatest invention to come out of Japan... greatest hangover cure on the planet. Keep a supply at home at all times (on the supermarket shelf here in Singapore)

      Pro tip: drink one before you go to bed instead of in the morning. that way you wake up less hungover

      Oh I am Jelly. It's a bit exxy here in AUS. I prefer a bloody mary :P

    I believe the diet waters usually contain extra ingredients that are meant to increase metabolism and calorie burning.

    My high school Japanese class had a few in jokes about Creap. It still haunts me.

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