The announcement of a new joint venture in the gas industry between Russia and Nigeria has been overshadowed by the choice of name for the operation. It’s not bad if you think NIGH-GAS.
But in writing, Nigaz, looks like a word reputable news publications don’t use.
According to Brand Republic, the names is a joining of the words “Nigeria” and “gaz,” as in Gazprom, Russia’s huge gas company.
However, “English-speakers seeing the word written down find the brand name has rather different connotations,” the report said.
According to a report in the London Guardian, the business operation was created just a week ago when Russian President Dmitry Medvedev traveled to Africa. The agreement apparently was intended to highlight the Kremlin’s new interest in energy reserves on the continent.
The Guardian pointed out the immediate reaction on Twitter: “They need a new PR outfit. Haha!!”
At Brand Republic, commentators also cited the time Starbucks opted to use “latte” in Germany. While the word means “milk” in Italian, in German it is slang for “erection.”
“You’d think with all those gangsters in Russia they’d know better,” said one Brand Republic forum participant.
The Guardian noted it was unclear why nobody alerted Medvedev to the blunder. It reported the new company plans to invest $2.5 billion in oil and gas exploration, refineries, pipelines and power plants.
The name also recalls the blunder from the 1990s when David Howard, who then headed the Washington, D.C., Office of the Public Advocate, was addressing colleagues about budgetary matters, and used the word “niggardly.”
Documented in a commentary by the late White House Press Secretary Tony Snow, Howard eventually was force to apologize and resign over his use of the word.
Wrote Snow, “Note several things: The word ‘niggardly’ has no etymological relationship to the ‘N’-word. Howard used it appropriately.
“David Howard got fired because some people in public employ were morons who a) didn’t know the meaning of ‘niggardly,’ b) didn’t know how to use a dictionary to discover the word’s meaning and c) actually demanded that he apologize for their ignorance,” Snow wrote.