Here at Atlas Translations, we were interested to read that McDonald’s billboards written in the Hmong language went up this week in two locations in Minnesota, US. It’s the first time McDonald’s ever has advertised in Hmong in the United States.
One of the billboards advertises an apparently longstanding staple of American cuisine — breakfast at McDonald’s — in a language many St. Paul residents probably cannot read:
“Yuavtxhawbpabraukojsawv yuavntxivzograukoj mus.”
That loosely translates from Hmong to “Coffee gets you up, breakfast gets you going.”
The problem is, some Hmong speakers say they can’t read it, either. Hmong residents say the language is too literal and words have been mashed together. “It sounds weird in Hmong because we don’t really talk like that,” said Bruce Thao, 28, a St. Paul resident and doctoral candidate in social work. “Either way, there should definitely be spaces in between those words.”
Once the mistakes are fixed, will the ads catch on? McDonald’s is popular the world over, but is coffee is a traditional staple of the Hmong diet?