For Friday amusement for our fellow German speakers, we can't help but briefly address a gigantic language pitfall in German-speaking countries: Denglish. For the uninitiated, that's an atrocious combination of German (Deutsch in German) and English = Denglish. While most of our direct clients in Europe have a fairly good command of the English language, they are usually not experts, which is why they hire us. However, once in a while a client wants to correct something that turns out to be, well, wrong. Trying to convince them of the contrary is sometimes quite a challenge. Here are some of our favorite examples from the past weeks.
- For one of our translations, we wrote about the author's "late father" (verstorbener Vater in German). However, our client insisted on using "dead father". He was adamant that "late" was not correct.
- Prepositions in English are tricky, and unfortunately, cannot be translated literally from German. Some of our favorite are "she died ON cancer" when we were insisting that someone dies "OF" cancer. The top prize goes to "she called him ON" (German: sie rief ihn an).
- We had another client who was offended by our use of "ordinary" (as in average, normal) in one of his texts. He was saying that the translation of this was "ordinär" (vulgar). Of course, it's not, but he just wouldn't take our word or the dictionary's for it.
Unfortunately, the customer is not always right; and it's a fine line which can be difficult to deal with in our profession. Usually, when a question comes up, we give the customer our linguistic and grammatical reasoning, cite from relevant sources, or explain the word's common usage. If all else fails, we say that we feel very comfortable with our recommendation, but that the final decision is, of course, up to the client. However, this could be dangerous as an atrocious term could appear in a translation associated with us. Luckily, thus far, most clients have taken our advice (at least that we know of). How does everyone else deal with this balancing act?
We know that Denglish examples abound, and they are always good for a chuckle, especially on a Friday afernoon. We'd love to hear your recent highlights!