Some of us are old enough to remember when Chevrolet introduced its new “Nova.” It was a cute, compact car that was marketed to compete with the Ford Falcon. However, there was a small problem marketing the Nova in Spanish-speaking countries. “No va” in Spanish translates loosely to “it doesn’t go.” Not a great name for a car. Well, it seems as if Mark Zuckerberg has made a similar mistake renaming Facebook.
The Western Journal reported the following today:
Giggles, snickers and some awkwardness greeted Facebook’s decision to change its corporate name to Meta.
“In Hebrew, *Meta* means *Dead*,” Dr. Nirit Weiss-Blatt, a tech expert, tweeted on Thursday. “The Jewish community will ridicule this name for years to come.”
…Zuckerberg said the name Facebook does not cover “everything we do” at a time when his empire includes Instagram, Messenger, WhatsApp, its Quest VR headset, its Horizon VR platform and more. Zuckerberg explained that the metaverse is a form of the virtual world where everyone is connected by virtual reality headsets, augmented reality glasses and phone apps.
The article also notes:
In Portuguese and Spanish, the word is not so troubling because it means “goal.” In Brazil, however, the word has a sexual connotation, according to Bloomberg.
Zuckerberg’s announcement was a boon for Nova Scotia-based Meta Materials. The company’s stock rose 26 percent in after-hours trading on Thursday, when Zuckerberg made his announcement, and another 6 percent on Friday, according to Reuters.
The article concludes:
Name changes can often fail in translation.
Kentucky Fried Chicken learned that when it entered the Chinese market in the 1980s, according to the BBC.
The restaurant’s “finger lickin’ good” motto, when translated into Mandarin, came out “eat your fingers off.”
It’s probably a good idea to use a translation application of some sort before you make a significant name change. Sometimes mistakes can be very misleading!