This caused a bit of scandal, because in French, GPT is pronounced “J'ai pété”, which means, “I farted.” Money was lost and reputations were damaged.
These mistakes—hilarious in retrospect, but embarrassing and costly for the companies who made them– may seem silly or trivial, but can add up to serious consequences.
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To be fair, this attitude can also be found even in translation circles because Chinese characters are, in fact, intimidatingly different when you come from a Western background.
Once you become more familiar with them, however, they lose that sense of intimidation as you realise they’re not that different from any other writing system, really – except that the Chinese character system has, in fact, some distinct advantages over other writing systems – advantages that give us a clue as to the persistence and popularity of Chinese characters throughout history. Chinese characters are used for writing in China, Taiwan, Japan and Singapore – and to a limited extent in Korea.
KFCs in China also have larger kitchens to accommodate the larger menus, and the actual restaurant is typically larger than those in the US. While KFC had been so thoughtful in how to localize their product and dining experience to suit the Chinese, it lacked the same thoughtfulness when translating one of their most popular catchphrases.
According to reports, the popular saying “Finger-lickin’ good” was translated into Chinese, reading literally as, “Eat your fingers off.” Appetizing, right?
Written texts created today will be perfectly readable in the future, even if audio recordings of that same text are totally incomprehensible.