20 July 2009

Achtung! Achtung!

By the time you read this, Kay and I will be sitting by a swimming pool in the sunny Mediterranean for a well-deserved break in Greece. It's the first holiday we have had together for five years and my first holiday without Greg for 34 years. It is going to seem very strange, but he is in no state to travel (or be good company) and I desperately want to give Kay a good holiday after all her hard work and before she leaves home. If I am honest I am desperate too for a bit of a break from all the stresses and strains of the last five years.

In the meantime, thinking of things foreign and different, I thought I would share with you the one thing that really gets me shouting at the television. It is when people try to pronounce German names wrongly. All right, I studied German at uni and am, I suppose without wishing to blow my own trumpet (not that I have one) pretty fluent in it. I also lived in Germany for a total of four years, so I do know what I'm talking about.

I don't blame the ordinary man in the street for getting it wrong; after all I wouldn't profess to know how to pronounce something correctly in Spanish or Greek or Mongolian for that matter. But when large companies produce adverts on TV and cannot pronounce them, that is plain unacceptable, because they are teaching all of us to pronounce them incorrectly too. Even the German companies go along with the mispronunciation because they know how useless on the whole English people can be at foreign languages.

Take Braun - the company that manufactures things like hair-dryers and curling tongs. The ad-men would have us pronounce it "Brawn" to rhyme with "prawn". It must make a German's toes' curl rather than their hair, because it is pronounced "brown" like the colour which in fact it is. "Braun" is the German for the colour "brown" and is pronounced the same... "brown". Simples. Or you would think so. No, it has to rhyme with "prawn". Let's make it difficult.

Another example is the German sports car, Porsche. You will hear most people here pronounce it "Porsh", as if they have a speech impediment trying to say "posh". But German words ending in "-e" are always pronounced "-a" at the end. Thus in Germany "Porsche" is pronounced "Porsha". I always feel if you can afford to drive one, you should ****** well learn how to pronounce it properly. It always made me laugh when many years ago a previous next door neighbour - who had his own building firm - drove around in his "Porsh" thinking he was the bees' knees. In my eyes, it made him look ridiculous because he could not even pronounce the name of his car properly. I won't even go there with Audi's Vorsprung durch Technik or how many variations there are on the way people say "Volkswagen".

I could go on with more examples, but don't wish to appear pedantic and pretentious. (What, moi?) For some strange reason it does not sound hilarious when German is mispronounced. But French is another case altogether, as Inspector Clousseau from The Pink Panther and Rene Artois of 'Allo 'Allo would agree. Rant over and spread the word! The correct one, that is! If you tell five people and they tell five people, maybe eventually we'll have everyone pronouncing things correctly. I can dream....



Normal service will be resumed soon! Meanwhile think of us lapping up the Greek sun and hospitality! Now, what's Greek for "a white wine spritzer with a cherry on the top!"

17 comments:

Woody Jr said...

Wishing you and Kay a safe and happy vacation. Prayers for your husband as always!

Nota Bene said...

Well hope you both have a great holiday in Greece. That's pronounced Greese.
Just in case.

aims said...

*laughing at Nota Bene*

Just enjoy. I'm with you on the pronunciation and don't get me started on spelling....

Strawberry Jam Anne said...

Well I don't speak German but I "know what you mean" Rosiero! I have been known to shout a correct pronunciation at the radio or tv when, to me, it's an obvious error.

Have a wonderful holiday with Kay - hope you can completely relax and enjoy it all. A x

Flowerpot said...

A well deserved rest for you Rosiero. I'm wondering about Snoopy though...

Not Waving but Drowning said...

You deserve this holiday.

Come back well rested and refreshed and tell us all about it,

GG

dulwich divorcee said...

Have a fantastic holiday, Rosiero, you and Kay deserve it x

Millennium Housewife said...

Ooh, so jealous, photos please! I'm so there with you on the getting this right thing. My degree is in Chinese medicine and Yin and Yang my bread and butter. I once saw an advert (which haunted me for years) which pronounced the car had 'the yang of design and the yin of performance'. If you know anything about yin and yang this will make you cringe. It's completely the wrong way round. Thanks for letting me rant Rosiero and have a wonderful, well deserved break!

Nechtan said...

I hope the two of you have a brilliant well deserved holiday.

All the best

Nechtan

PS I'm saying nothing about pronunciations. My wife is very much like yourself and I drive her up the wall just in English.

Rebel Mother said...

Aaah, sit back and enjoy Greece, how wonderful!

I'll tell you what is an unspeakable language and that is Dutch! And god help you if you lapse into German.

They get quite shirty!

Have a great time. Love RMx

Hadriana's Treasures said...

Have a super time you two. You both deserve it.

I know what you mean, Rosiero, I am the same with Spanish and Italian. Watching cookery programmes...what they do to "chorizo". My thoughts with what they should with their "chorizo" is unprintable!

Ellen said...

Relax, chill, smash a plate or two. Hope you and Kay enjoy the holiday you both so deserve.

DogLover said...

άσπρο κρασί spritzer με ένα κεράσι στην κορυφή

There you are! and do try to pronounce it correctly!

I agree with you about the English pronunciation of German words, having become a pedant by learning to speak fairly fluently in that language.

I think "Brawn" is probably OK in the ad because that's how most English people say it and they might be puzzled by "Brown"! But to own a Porsche and not pronounce it right is pathetic!

Daphne Wayne-Bough said...

My boss is German and always looks puzzled at that "Vorsprung durch Technik" thing. It should be "Fortschritt" if anything, surely? Ads are all geared to the American market, hence words are pronounced as an American would say them. I used to scream at the trailers for French films starring "Gerard DeparDOO".

The linguistic joke in 'Allo 'Allo is very clever, it took me years to work it out. I christened a French blogger Crabtree as he translates everything through Babel Fish and it comes out quite surreal.

Hope you had a wonderful holiday and got totally Gregless. ; )

Hua said...

Hi Rosiero,

Have an safe trip Greece. You and Kay will an amazing time. It is so beautiful there and there is so much history within the country. I'm Hua, the director of Wellsphere's HealthBlogger Network, a network of over 2,000 of the best health writers on the web (including doctors, nurses, healthy living professionals, and expert patients). I think your blog would be a great addition to the Network, and I'd like to invite you to learn more about it and apply to join at http://www.wellsphere.com/health-blogger. Once approved by our Chief Medical Officer, your posts will be republished on Wellsphere where they will be available to over 5 million monthly visitors who come to the site looking for health information and support. There’s no cost and no extra work for you! The HealthBlogger page (http://www.wellsphere.com/health-blogger) provides details about participation, but if you have any questions please feel free to email me at hua@wellsphere.com.

Best,
Hua

Mid-lifer said...

Have a fab holiday - you deserve it - expecting perfect pronounciation of retsina, and all of those kebab thingys which I can't quite remember the name of (kleftiko?)

rosiero said...

Thank you for all your good wishes. In answer to Flowerpot, Snoopy survived, thank goodness although the greeting he gave Kay and me on our return showed us he had more than missed us. He was jumping up at us and howling with delight, did several runs round the house, out to the garden and back, still wagging his tail fifteen to the dozen! I am currently packing his things in a suitcase ready to take him with me to my mother for a week away, as she has to have an operation. He will I know enjoy the break too, as he loves my mother's garden and walks on the beach nearby.