Amazon's launch up in the Nordics seems to have gone awfully wrong. The company's push for the Swedish retail website was supposed to impress local consumers. Instead, it's drawn mockery and confusion for poor translation, the wrong flag, and some unfortunate mix-up between English and Swedish words. Here's what went down.
That's Argentina but good try, I guess? — Things took the wrong turn when the website showed the Argentinian flag instead of the Swedish one, according to The Guardian. This harmless error can be explained by the fact that both flags have almost similar (emphasis on "almost") shades of blue. But they are not identical. So when the Argentinian flag appeared in place of the Swedish flag, folks had their first problem with the launch. It didn't end there.
That's not what you think it means — "Cat" is a harmless word. "Pussy" is arguably a riskier one but it is still used commonly in conversations referring to our little feline friends. In Swedish, however, the feline "pussy" translates directly to"vagina." And that's exactly happened, according to The Guardian, when T-shirts showcasing kitties ended up becoming lewd accidents. Another card depicting a little duck was translated to "söta-ansikte-kuk," which means "sweet face dick." Some Swedish outlets have made lists of these embarrassing gaffes in translation.
In other examples, Amazon translated "Russian infantry" as "Russian toddlers" and the game Watch Dogs 2 game as "Look At Dogs 2," which could make for a great game. Look, gazing at pups sounds lovely.
In a public statement, the giant company admits its mistake. "We want to thank everyone for highlighting these issues and helping us make the changes and improve Amazon.se. While we are really excited to have launched Amazon.se today with more than 150m products, it is only day one for us here in Sweden, and we are committed to constantly improving the customer experience," Amazon said.
"Therefore, if anyone spots any issues with product pages, please do use the link on the page to provide feedback and we will make the necessary changes."
All for naught — The most laughable aspect of the entire and rather sordid ordeal is that Sweden boasts a high rate of English literacy. They don't really need Amazon for its translation services. A Stockholm-based games developer Jake Shadle tweeted as much.
"Golf clapping for everyone at Amazon involved in the genius decision of doing garbage machine translation for 95+ percent of the site," Shadle mused, "from a language that most people in Sweden can understand."