This is the official logo of the convention center in Essen a city of 567,000 people in Germany:
If you're a native English speaker, or even a mildly competent ESL speaker, you may have noticed that 'place of events' is something no proper English speaker has ever or would ever think, say, or write. It has every hallmark of Denglish obtuseness -- the awkward adjectival phrase, the faintly ludicrous non-specificity (is there any location in space-time that is not a 'place of events'?), the cack-handed attempt to convey a sense of excitement by stitching together a few random words in the lingua franca of hipness. It looks like something you would read on a Thai T-shirt, or what you'd get if you asked a group of retired East German coal miners twenty seconds to think of a really cool English slogan for their local senior center.
And yet this is the official slogan of a multimillion dollar convention center in Germany's most populous state. This humiliating testament to the dreary stuffiness of German corporate culture has appeared on millions of signs, billboards, stickers, notebooks, cocktail napkins, sanitary pads, shell casings, flags, and streetcar-side advertisements.
What caused this train wreck? One part of me says the answer is obvious. The convention center's marketing director, Alexander Remigius Maximilian Cornelius Ignaz Baron von Shicklgruber started the slogan meeting by saying: 'It came to me over the weekend: Place of Events!' and his fawning underlings immediately congratulated him on the staggering awesomeness of his idea.
But maybe the inspiration was Crazy Vaclav, the swarthy, heavily-accented auto dealer from an unspecified Eastern European country featured in the 1992 Simpsons episode Mr. Plow. (unembeddable video link here). He tries to sell Homer a car from a country that 'no longer exists'. As the Simpsons Wiki puts it, the car is deficient in legroom, 'even for the driver'.
The name of Vaclav's car dealership?
A few weeks ago, loyal reader GR sent me this ad for Schindler Attorneys-at-law from a German lawyer magazine: 'Outhouse knows Inhouse'
Ever played 'Ass Golf'? In the mood for some 'Ass Love Deluxe'? Does your family deserve to become an 'Ass Family'?
If you answered 'Jawohl!', and I'm sure you did, have I got a hotel for you. It's called the Saalbacher Hof, in Saalbach, Austria, and its summer vacation packages include:
The theme here, as German-speakers will have immediately noticed, is playing cards: Trumpf = trump, and Ass = ace. But then the oily-haired marketing types pepped up the stodgy hotel's image with some of that sickeningly hip English. Today's Austrian 'Familys' deserve no less!
One simple rule for ad-men, delivered free of charge: If you start a phrase or sentence in German, for G$d's sake finish it in German.
This kitchenware store in northern Duesseldorf tells you how:
In case of, er, complications, help is just around the corner:
Yo, behold this pleasant 1846 painting by Moritz von Schwind:
I admired it in person at the Hamburger Kunsthalle last weekend. It seemed darker in person -- I think the digital version may have been brightened a little. Nevertheless, a nice chunk of late Romanticism, dusted with kitsch. The modeling of the buck's solid, sagging flesh and horns is nicely plastic.
Here is the translation of the picture's title:
I chuckled over the translation of the German word tränken as "saturate". But then I became thoughtful, and stroked my chin. There's no easy translation for tränken. Tränken describes only how animals drink. Humans trinken, animals tränken. Same thing for eating: humans essen, while animals fressen. Add to that the fact that English has no simple transitive word for "give water to". You can "water" plants, but that always implies pouring water over or into something. You wouldn't water your dogs or your children, you would only give them something to drink.
The translators seemed to realize this, but then fatally chose "saturate" as the proper translation from the other entries on the dict.leo.org list. But how can we blame them? The meaning comes across, sort of, and the only other alternatives would have doubled the length of the title, which doesn't seem right.
The other titles were translated quite well.
From a recent phishing email:
"Ihr Konto wurde vorübergehend gewesen."
In English, roughly, "Your account was temporarily existed." Needless to say, I didn't "click her for removing of limitation."