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McDonald's advertises to St. Paul's Hmong speakers, but misses on the translation

Hmong speakers say this slogan doesn't quite translate.
Hmong speakers say this slogan doesn't quite translate.
Keller Grayson Communications

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McDonald's has two new billboards in St. Paul that are targeting a specific customer: Hmong speakers. For the first time in the U.S., the fast food giant is pitching the community directly in Hmong, with a tagline that translates to, "Coffee gets you up, breakfast gets you going."

Or at least, that's what the ads are supposed to say. Hmong speakers report that the slogan is stilted, and tough to read because of missing spaces between the words.

"We don't really talk like that," 28-year-old Bruce Thao told the Pioneer Press. "Either way, there should definitely be spaces in between those words."

KSTP reports that McDonald's hired an agency specializing in foreign languages to translate the ad. After news of confusion over the billboard, the agency is double-checking its grammar.

Despite the errors, the message has gotten through to at least one Hmong-American, who told KSTP that he's excited just to see an ad in Hmong. "To see that here in the U.S. is really something new," Thao Lao said. "It's very interesting and very cool. It's something I've never seen before."

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