Presty chocolate wrapperThis chocolate wrapper turned up in my child’s trick-or-treat bag and now we don’t know which language Prestÿ is! Anyone out there who can help?

One dad in our trick-or-treating party figured Prestÿ was German: “Don’t you guys put umlauts on everything?” “No.” I figured it was Turkish but am told that a y with umlaut does not exist in Turkish, either. At least, Turkish is an educated guess seeing that the wrapper also has “Sütlü Çikolata” written on it. “Sütlü Çikolata” is Turkish for “Milk Chocolate” – the other bit of language on the wrapper I recognize.

Further clues: The candy was found in a trick-or-treat bag in Abu Dhabi and so can be presumed to have been purchased in the UAE although there is no Arabic writing on the wrapper. There is no country-of-origin information on the wrapper, either, although there is some illegible small print under something that looks like “asas” and which might conceivably contain statutory information if it were not too small to be legible. Googling “Elvan chocolates” produces a further Turkish connection: Elvan is the name of an Istanbul-based company producing chocolates and pastries for “more than 70 countries over 6 continents.”

Of course, it doesn’t really matter whether Prestÿ “exists” in any real language – as long as people associate it with a particular language and transfer the associations they have with that language onto the product, Prestÿ is doing its job. Along the lines “I suppose Prestÿ is German for ‘prestige’ so the qualities of German must apply to the chocolate, too.” Mostly, German is associated with cars and technology, though, where it tends to be used to connote high quality. I know because I’ve written a few research papers on the iconic use of foreign languages in advertising and if you want to follow up on multilingualism in advertising, you can find some of my research papers in our resources section.

More likely, Prestÿ is just supposed to be “general European” and supposed to connote the sophistication of European chocolate and cuisine. There’s a lot of multilingual meaning-making on this humble little piece of junk and I would love to hear your interpretations!

Author Ingrid Piller

Dr Ingrid Piller is Professor of Applied Linguistics at Macquarie University, Sydney, Australia. Ingrid’s research expertise is in the fields of intercultural communication, bilingual education and the sociolinguistics of language learning and multilingualism in the contexts of migration and globalization.

More posts by Ingrid Piller
  • Claire

    Perhaps it is ‘Prestij’ instead? That’s how I read it on the image before I read the blog post…

  • Ingrid

    Thanks for that, Claire! A quick check on confirms that you are right and that “Prestij” is the Turkish word for “Prestige, Cachet” … Now, no one in our little trick-or-treat party read it that way … so, there’s an interesting gap between performance (what the writer meant) and perception (what the reader understood) – something that happens all the time when language is on the move …

  • I just ate some pieces of this Elvan Prestij chocolate and I also was interested if its really Turkish. I guess that its just a coincidence that from reading Presty I thought it was Turkish, and the fact that it really is! :)) the thing is I love it cuz it comes in small pieces, cuz if I had a whole chocolate tablet I would eat it all.