Lost in Translation: Japanese Car Names

Nissan Gloria

At Forbes Asia, Peter Lyon has written a fun article about Japanese car names and how they are perceived in English. As he says, “Often you will come across a name that is simply unusable in an English setting but works in Japan.”

As an example, take the Mitsubishi Canter Guts (a real car). The word “guts” doesn’t have the intestinal nuance it does in English. It basically translates into Japanese as something with strength and power. In fact, it has a positive meaning in Japan. They even have the phrase “guts pose” which renders into English as “punch the air” or “fist pump.”

And what about the Toyota Isis? Launched in 2004, long before the militant group was formed in Iraq and Syria, the name Isis actually refers to a goddess in ancient Egyptian religion.

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