Friday, May 11, 2007

UK Retailer Accidentally Promoted Ethnic Cleansing in Russia

The Guardian reported that British retailer Burton was selling t-shirts for 12GBP with a logo stating "We Will Cleanse Russia of all Non-Russians (Очистим Русь от всех нерусских!). The t-shirt (pictured) was quickly removed from the shelves, when the apparent mistake was discovered by a Burton customer.

When Bristol university student Paddy Shuttleworth spotted an unassuming grey cotton T-shirt in his local Burton menswear shop, he was, to say the least, surprised; not by the price (a modest £12) but by the Cyrillic writing surrounding the doubleheaded eagle motif which, as a Russian language student, he was able to translate. Rather unfortunately, it read: "We will cleanse Russia of non-Russians!"

"I did mention to the girl as I bought one of the shirts, that it was politically probably quite dangerous," says Mr Shuttleworth. The shirt's overall design is an odd jumble of ersatz French logo and Russian iconography, but there is no mistaking the nature of the sentiment, which uses the old word for Russia, "Rus" as a way of distinguishing between ethnic Russians and those with Russian citizenship. "I've spoken to a Russian friend," says Mr Shuttleworth, "and she said you would be arrested if you wore it in Russia."

The UK Times reports that the original intention of the t-shirt, aimed to appeal to the ever0increasing Russian diaspora in London and other parts of the UK, was to say "Be Proud of Russia!". The British newspaper also reports of such translation mishaps in the past:

Prominent corporations have been caught out on numerous occasions by botched translations. In an embarrassing blunder, the brewer Coors was forced to pull its advertisement and change its slogan when the company discovered that “Turn it Loose” translated into Spanish as “Suffer from Diarrhoea”.

Even Coca-Cola was not exempt from humiliation when its slogan “Coke Adds Life” was reportedly translated into Thai as “Coke Brings Your Ancestors Back from the Dead”.

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