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McDonald's Hmong billboard misses mark

Sept. 3, 2012 at 2:59 AM

ST. PAUL, Minn., Sept. 3 (UPI) -- U.S. fast-food giant McDonald's apparent first attempt to use billboards to advertise its breakfasts to Hmong-Americans has left it with egg on its face.

Two billboards written in the Hmong language went up this past week in St. Paul, Minn., home to a large portion of the United States' Hmong immigrant population.

They read: "Yuavtxhawbpabraukojsawv yuavntxivzograukoj mus."

It's meant to be Hmong for "Coffee gets you up, breakfast gets you going." But the St. Paul Pioneer Press reported Saturday some Hmong say the phrasing is awkward and words are run together.

"It sounds weird in Hmong because we don't really talk like that," Bruce Thao, 28, of St. Paul said. "Either way, there should definitely be spaces in between those words."

Dr. Thai Lee, a former chief resident at St. Joseph's Hospital in St. Paul, said while he thinks "it's great" mainstream businesses are becoming aware of the Hmong community, he's not keen on a fast-food company pushing menus not considered the healthiest.

As for the billboard's wording? It's a run-on sentence, he said.

"The text is also wrong, missing key breaks in the language," Thai Lee said. "As it stands right now, it doesn't make sense at all."

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