New Zealand Law Society - Afrikaans slang usage in TV ad ruled acceptable

Afrikaans slang usage in TV ad ruled acceptable

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The Advertising Standards Authority (ASA) has dismissed a complaint about Afrikaans slang – which it is claimed is in fact an insult – in a burger commercial.

The Burger King television advertisement for their ‘Tastes of the World’ campaign showed French, Korean and Afrikaans speakers describing their respective burgers.  The Afrikaans segment has subtitles which say “Up to NZ? Grab the mighty South African burger from BK.  BBQ sauce and two flame-grilled patties.  Mean aye?”

However, a complainant – an Afrikaans speaker - said the translation of the phrase “The mighty South African burger” to “Die moerse Suid Afrikaanse burger” was incorrect and said the word moerse was offensive as the translation was not mighty, but a swear word.

“There is no English equivalent to translate "moerse" into English that will fully describe the meaning behind the word, but if I had to explain it, it will be ‘f*cken huge’,” the complainant wrote.

The advertiser said the word was hyperbolic and used to explain big or large. It quoted the definition from the Urban dictionary which listed moerse as a slang term meaning really big or numerous.  

The ASA said the examples of news articles which used the word moerse in headlines supported the view that it was acceptable for it to be used in the public domain. It agreed the word in the advertisement was used as hyperbolic slang and did not reach the threshold to offend. Accordingly, the Complaints Board ruled the complaint was Not Upheld.