|As seen at the Athens airport.|
This past week, we spent a glorious week in Greece with Judy's hubby and our dear translator friends Catherine Christaki and Christos Floros (more on that fantastic vacation in a future post) and we saw a lot of clumsy attempts at English -- think menus, flyers, ads, etc.
We oftentimes ask Keith, our resident native English speaker (and a funny, sarcastic attorney with a very dry sense of humor) what he thinks about the ads that have been translated, mostly very poorly. It's interesting to hear his perspective. As a non-translator, he isn't immediately put off by bad language. Rather, he either just doesn't get the ad, ignores it, moves on, or decides he doesn't want the product (this recently happened with an Austrian Airlines ad, which had Keith shaking his head in disbelief). He doesn't speak another language, so he can't really deduce the message's meaning based on the source text. It's fascinating to pick his brain about language and its impact. In general, he thinks about language significantly less than we do, which isn't surprising.
When we showed him the ad that we've included above, he said he certainly understood what was being said, but that he also thought it was funny because it's missing a noun. Translating any sort of advertising is a very challenging undertaking, and we have many fantastic colleagues who tackle who are really good at it. We don't know if this is a translation or a clever (or not clever?) language experiment, but German company Jacobs is using the slogan "Experience the perfect." It's not terrible (and it's certainly different and attention-catching, which is the point of advertising) and one could construe it as a clever attempt at molding and shaping the language into something new (after all, language changes and evolves). And of course, advertising language has been pushing the envelope for decades. Alternatively, it may just be a bad translation. Your opinion might depend on your perspective and perhaps on the languages you speak and your tolerance for new advertising speak. Another question is this: is the world ready for the nounification of adjectives? Perhaps? Are we ready for "the perfect"?
What about you, dear colleagues? What do you think? Would you have come up with something entirely different or stuck with the straight-up translation? We could not verify this on the Jacbos website, but perhaps the original German was "Erleben Sie Perfektion."Do you think the existing translation (assuming that it is) is mortifying or is it good enough? Does it communicate the message, which is the point of translation? Or do you think this was created from scratch in English and is meant to push the language envelope? OK, those are too many questions for a Friday afternoon (in Europe), but it's food for thought. We'd love to hear your opinions on this. We find this topic very interesting, and we hope you do, too.