Aren’t foreign languages wonderful? And don’t the Japanese suck at them? They’re not the only ones, for sure. But when your country is archipelagic, it can increase linguistic isolation. Britain has a similar issue, but at least, the Brits have a sense of humour about these things. And they don’t routinely name their cars with odd and inapproriate foreign-sounding names, they prefer odd and inappropriate English names.
In Japan, you can ride in a Cocoa, a Cappucino, a Splash, a Chiffon, a Pistachio or a Latte. And if you don’t want those, you can just go get a Life (or have a Fit). Or, until the end of this year, you could just relax and have a Pajero. It’s no secret that this Mitsubishi was never sold anywhere near Spanish-speaking countries. Even in the US, which has a large Spanish-speaking population, they took no chances and renamed these “Montero.” And that’d be ok if it weren’t for one question: just what exactly does pajero mean in the Spanish-speaking world?
Well, I had a bit of a browse on translation websites, and opinions are somewhat contrasted. Which, given that Spanish is spoken by about half a billion people in over 20 countries, is pretty normal. For some, pajero means liar. Elsewhere, it can mean lazy – or even plumber, apparently. But most do agree that the vulgar meaning of the word, i.e. a man frequently practicing onanism – or wanker, in plain English – is likely to be the most widely understood definition. It’s derived from the word “paja” (straw)…
I’m not sure why Mitsubishi thought naming a car Pajero was a good idea, especially a model they were going to export far and wide. They certainly weren’t the first to make this kind of mistake (Nissan Cedric, anyone?), but give them credit – at least they stuck to their guns. The Pajero is about to exit the JDM after 37 years of continuous production, going through four generations.
As I found this nicely maturing early model on the streets of Bangkok, where these are now rather rare, I thought we could all take a moment and reflect. And laugh at that bunch of pajeros working at Mitsubishi’s marketing department.