Sunday, May 14, 2006

Wie bitte?

Come again? What was that?

The longer that I am in Germany, the more I have enjoyed catching the nuances of the language in comparison to English. Some differences I understand better than others, but they are all amusing.


1. From the movie “Dirty Dancing”

English version: “No one puts Baby in a corner.”
German version: “Baby belongs to me.”

WHAT!? You can’t change “No one puts Baby in a corner.” That is "THE" line in the movie. Plus, the moment is about Baby’s liberation, not Johnnie taking back a possession. As a side note, in the scene where Baby is touching Johnnie’s chest to feel his heart (aaawwww), his heart makes a different sound in the German version of the movie. No joke!




2. I have been buying flowers for my balcony and have also been amused to see the differences in flower names.

“Snap dragons” are called “Lion’s Mouth”

“Pansies”/Violas translate roughly into “little step mothers” (“Stiefmuetterchen”)

“Forget me not” flowers are called “Vergiss mich nicht.” That’s the same, but I think it sounds cuter in German, which is why I brought it up:-)


3. Food translations are probably my favorite.

“Cool Ranch” Doritos are called “Cool American” Doritos. First of all, I am in favor of any product that is called “Cool American.” It is good for public diplomacy;-) Second, I don’t know how you could translate “Ranch dressing” into German. I’ve never given much thought to what Ranch actually is. I guess it is technically an herb dressing, but “Creamy Herb” Doritos sounds too fancy.

Philadelphia cake… I don’t know what this is. My grocery store sells it. It looks like sponge cake with Philadelphia cream cheese on top, but I haven’t bought any. Come to think of it, maybe it is like a Tasty Cake (think frosted Twinkie if you are not from Philly.) It does kind of look like a Tasty Cake. Hmmm…

Philadelphia pizza… I don’t know what this is either, but my local pizza shop makes it. Philadelphia doesn't have pizza, it has cheese steak sandwiches!

“American” dressing… a friend says this is Russian dressing or Thousand Island. I suppose one could ask why we call it “Russian” dressing. Do French people really have “French” dressing?


I will be in Bonn, Heidelberg, Stuttgart, Ulm and Munich until Wednesday. But I am sure these insightful comparisons will be enough to keep you satisfied until I get back;-)

12 Comments:

At 7:09 AM, Anonymous Mike Schnoor said...

About flowers - well I can fairly tell that an "eggplant" is an "Aubergine". So... instead of using "Eierfrucht" (egg fruit), the linguistic preference is chosen from the french word.

About localizing a globalized product - there's always been trouble about naming things in a correct manner for marketing purposes - like the Doritos. Imagine the "quarter pounder with cheese" and one of our "Cheese Burgers" here at McD. Besides this, have you heard of the fiasco put by Disney while opening Disneyland Paris about a decade ago? The whole park was about to collapse because of false intercultural communication and a marketing mess reasoned within the classical adoption of the US' original themeparks?

However, the english-speaking/original movies are often problematic for the majority of germanspeaking people. The older they are, the less they'll catch a single line. Most younger people (like myself) prefer originals. Just yesterday they showed "Trapped" (Kevin Bacon, Charlize Theron) with the german title "24 Stunden Angst" (24 hours fear). We do hate this crap translation senseless moronic stuff that's been done in the syncros.

But especially old movies such as DD don't receive a syncro-facelifting. Just take one of these rather old fun-movies like HotShots or the whole American Pie stuff... imagine they'd make a joke about bush or clinton because of a picture of the presidents at the wall - not many germans would ever understand it, since some syncros work like "blablabla about the president" in the german version and in the original it'd be something like "beat the bush".

Whatever - now consider "X3" being called "X-Männer" or "Die Mutanten"? That'd kill everything. ;)

 
At 7:01 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

After reading your blog (when I should be working, as usual) and reading Mike's comment, I had to share my favorite US>German movie title: "The Dukes of Hazzard" becomes "Ein Duke Kommt Selten Allein" (A Duke Rarely Comes Alone). I'm not sure whether to laugh, be frightened or mildly disgusted. Granted, Germans probably aren't that familiar with the geography and reputation of the Southern US states, so I guess I can understand why a literal translation isn't in order. After all, 'Die Brüdern Duke vom Landkreis Hazzard USA' doesn't have quite the same panache.

 
At 8:37 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

You know what "French Dressing" is called in France, don't you?



Wait for it . . . .



Just "Dressing," of course.

 
At 8:38 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Don't even ask me what Belgian waffles are called in Belgium.

 
At 4:11 PM, Anonymous Mike Schnoor said...

Definately the Dukes of Hazzard have had a horrible translation. But overall most 80s-"Glen A. Larson"-shows had some stupidity within the germanized version - not the titles, but the entire dialogue was a blast! ;)

 
At 12:57 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Here's one in the other direction:

Ritter Sport's motto in German is "Qualitaet im Quadrat."

I recently picked one up at Trader Joe's in the States. The translation is "Quality in a square."

I found that a totally unfortunate loss of a great pun. "Qualitaet im Quadrat" could be translated literally as "Quality in a square," or more cleverly as "Quality, squared." (In the mathematical sense.)

In fact, if I were working at the Ritter Sport facility in the US, I would change the English motto to "Quality, squared." I think people would get that.

But maybe that is already trademarked by another US firm?

Interesting obervations, Erin!

All the best,
Mike
(gave you advice on Aachen)

 
At 3:44 AM, Anonymous Mike Schnoor said...

Ooops? I believe you're incorrect. The motto of the Ritter Sport chocolate is "Quadratisch. Praktisch. Gut" or "Square(d), Practical, Good" --- I ate one of these yesterday and just saw the packing on top of the trash. :D

I saw the "Qualität im Quadrat" as a small little square being printed on the back, however the official slogan is that QPG-slogan. Haven't they transformed that into the english version?

 
At 3:46 AM, Blogger Erin said...

Thank you to both Mikes for those interesting comments.

Mike S, so what does Mickey D's call the various types of burgers with cheese? They can't all be cheese burgers? But I guess a 1/10kilo burger doesn't sound right either.

Aachen Mike, don't you just love that you can get Ritter Sport in the US! I even saw it at my local drug store at Christmas. FYI, I still hope to make it to Aachen and the border region before I leave Germany.

Was the title of Dukes of Hazzard really "Ein Duke kommt selten allein"? Oh brother! I can't think of a bad German equivalent but it would surely have something to do with Hitler.

And who is the wisenheimer who made the dressing and waffle comments? Funny stuff, keep it coming:-)

 
At 2:48 PM, Anonymous Tina said...

French call dressing "vinaigrette". Never heard them saying dressing.

Greetings from Angers in France,
Tina

 
At 8:11 AM, Blogger Erin said...

And is vinaigrette bright orange like French dressing in the States? I will have to research when I visit in July!

 
At 12:01 PM, Blogger eightyone81 said...

hey Erin!

About movies: In the film "dude, where is my car" what are they saying in the german version when they discover they tatooed "dude" and "sweet" on their backs? Stupid movie, but I can't see how that could ever be translated...

 
At 2:19 AM, Blogger Erin said...

Ha, "Dude Where's My Car" hasn't made it to the top of my "to see" list yet! Interestingly enough though, I was in Freiburg when the movie came out in Germany and remembering getting a kick out of the German title, "Ey Man, Wo Ist Mein Auto?" Is "ey" a German word? I think the tatoo scene was in the previews though and I remember thinking it was a highly dumbed down (drugged up) version of "Who's on first."

 

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