Cross-Cultural Communication

“It Doesn’t Go” Everyone with an Internet connection “knows” that when General Motors tried to introduce the Chevy Nova into Latin American markets, it failed because “no va” in Spanish means “it doesn’t go.” But what everyone thinks to be true is actually a myth.

Chevy Nova sales in Latin America were satisfactory. In fact, Spanish speakers have no difficulty discerning the difference – in speech or print – between the word “nova” and the phrase “no va.”

Though the Chevy Nova story is not true, the way in which it is not true says something about common American attitudes toward the cross-cultural communication problem:

  • Most Americans believe that the cross-cultural communication problem is an easy one because it’s just a problem of language translation.
  • People, in general, believe those in other countries take advertising and catchwords literally.
  • The cross-cultural communication problem is largely a marketing problem.