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Meta Facebook

Three languages where Facebook’s new name could be a problem

Meta Facebook

Three languages where Facebook’s new name could be a problem

In much publicised news, Facebook rebranded itself as Meta last week, in a move similar to that which saw Google overseen by the newly created holding company Alphabet in 2015.

Whispers of the change emerged in the week prior to its official announcement, with CampaignLive.co.uk even correctly predicting that the term “meta” would form part of the new moniker. The name alludes to Facebook founder and CEO Mark Zuckerberg’s vision for the company to create a “metaverse” – a futuristic form of the internet with shared spaces and augmented reality at its core.

With Facebook being a global company though, it’s inevitable that the name won’t translate into all of them in the same way. In several languages – including Spanish, Polish and Croatian, “meta” means “target” or “goal”. This double meaning dovetails rather conveniently with the intended one, suggesting ambition and achievement.

In other languages, the translations could be a little more problematic. Here are three in particular where Facebook might find its new parent company struggles to be taken seriously.

1. Hebrew

This one has been widely reported, so you might well have heard of it. In Hebrew, “meta” is the feminine form of the adjective “dead”, leading some speakers to question whether the name could be prophetic.

As the news of the rebrand spread last Friday, this unfortunate translation saw #FacebookDead trend on Twitter.

2. Greek

The Greek translation is quirky rather than harmful, with μετά (pronounced “meta”) translating as “post”. This led me to wonder whether Greeks referring to a Facebook post might begin to talk of a “meta meta”.

It turns out that it’s not that type of “post” though. The Greek term translates as “post” meaning “after”, as in English phrases like “post-war” or “post-modernism”. That still could lead to confusion though – after what? It’s interesting that the Hebrew translation suggests the company is a thing of the past, whereas the Greek one refers to the future.

3. Urdu

This could be the most damaging of the lot, although I can’t be sure I’m grasping the nuances of the Urdu language accurately. According to Google Translate, the Urdu word مٹا, written in the Latin alphabet as “meta”, translates as “delete”.

Urdu is the 10th most spoken language in the world, so for Facebook’s sake, let’s hope not too many of its 230 million speakers take this translation as an instruction on what to do with their account!

Facebook does have a habit of attracting some dodgy publicity, but we certainly don’t think it’s dead, or time to delete your account. If you need help with Facebook Ads or any other aspect of online marketing, why not talk to the Engage Web team?

John Murray

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