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Telekom boss wins 'award' for abusing the German language

The Local · 27 Aug 2011, 10:10

Published: 27 Aug 2011 10:10 GMT+02:00

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The Verein Deutsche Sprache announced late on Friday they had given Obermann the dubious distinction because the telecommunications company uses an abundance of often odd English terms rather than German. Among the company’s many offerings are: “Extreme Playgrounds,” “Call & Surf” and “Shared Cost International.”

“A visit to the company’s website is shock therapy in the horror closet of the German language," the group's chairman Walter Krämer said, adding that Deutsche Telekom has annoyed its clients over the years with English language imports. Nearly all Telekom calling plans have English names, he noted.

This is the second time a Telekom chief has received the negative award. In 1998, then Telekom head Ron Sommer won in part for marketing rate plans with names like “sunshine” and “moonshine.”

In this year’s running, second place was taken by Germany’s Family Minister Kristina Schröder for her “Equal-Pay-Day” idea. The Verein Deutsche Sprache is the country’s largest watchdog association for the German language.

DPA/The Local/mw

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The Local (news@thelocal.de)

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Your comments about this article

12:11 August 27, 2011 by dintojose
Is there a watchdog association for friendship in Germany? May be they will give a negative award to some Germans telling, he has the largest number of non-German friends. Watchdog association for sex partners of Germans will be even more interesting.
12:19 August 27, 2011 by mike_1983
what a disgrace for a german company!
13:29 August 27, 2011 by kiaat
there is something about trying to integrate a few marketing-y sounding English words that really turns on Deutschland AG

But this does not mean they speak English -they just like that it makes them sound more international.... in fact it makes them sound ridiculous. Even when they try to speak the word with correct accent - it never works. Best just stick to German, I'd say. Do you see the Spanish or the French trying this stuff? No, you don't. They know that it is just silly.
15:05 August 27, 2011 by petenick
The French have had their language watchdog a long time so why not the Germans. Language is part of the culture of a people and should be spoken right.
16:44 August 27, 2011 by iseedaftpeople
>marketing rate plans with names like ¦quot;sunshine¦quot; and ¦quot;moonshine.¦quot;

that made me chuckle just now. Always worth exploring the various actual meanings and connotations of foreign words that you plan to incorporate in your marketing jibber jabber. Did Deutsche Telekom offer free homemade booze with their "moonshine" rates back then? Or, were they secretly aware that that scheme was a bunch of nonsense?
17:30 August 27, 2011 by catjones
and this hurts whom?
18:24 August 27, 2011 by willowsdad
Japan is a goldmine of unintentional funny English. I recall one Scandinavian-style pastry shop called "Sweden's Smell". They were obviously going for something like "Aroma of Sweden."
19:38 August 27, 2011 by iseedaftpeople

yeah I have seen some of that too in Japan... I saw a tourist bar once that advertised its slogan "primary place for make the happy" on a sign near the entrance... I guess they wanted to say that theirs was the no.1 place to have a good time... but something went terribly wrong and it made them sound more like a brothel or something ;-)
22:31 August 27, 2011 by Landmine
They should also have a watch group for terrible English on clothing apparel as well, it is worse than Telecom's offenses. I saw a t-shirt the other day that said "Monday night Martini sailboat driver".

You often see the stupidest english language things written on apparel and I always wonder who on earth buys that. Their English must be just as poor as the manufacturers....
22:39 August 27, 2011 by BR549
Sure, go ahead and laugh at a company at least, making the attempt to be "international". Sure, the French and Spanish don't do that to keep from looking silly, which explains why they both have a weak economy. Germany is the only country in the EU that can pull its own weight and bail other countries out, yet German companies like Telekom are continually ridiculed for being open minded and trying to lead in global markets.
05:00 August 28, 2011 by vonSchwerin
He ought to get an award for abusing the English language!

If you are going to use English words, at least use them correctly.
06:22 August 28, 2011 by nemo999
The award he should have really received is for being the CEO of a company that really abuses it customers. High prices, extremely slow service and an even slower network.
10:19 August 28, 2011 by kiaat
@BR549 I hardly think that a few poorly used English language marketing words are what makes Germany stand out. They are a export based market benefiting from a weak €.

This language issue goes beyond Telekom. It is not just companies that do this. I have also suffered through TV shows where they bend over backwards to integrate English e.g. Mr instead of Herr and say Mom instead of Mutter. All these sitcoms from the Usa they play here.

Embrace the language! German is rich with vocabulary (albiet not as many words as English), but still.... love your language. Even when you are putting out marketing material for Deutsche Bahn or dubbing some crap from USA.

Find the write local words.... like the French and Spanish so ;)
21:21 August 28, 2011 by Deutschguy
These English language slogans and phrases are good marketing. The demographic that DT is appealing to likes them. Believe me, they have market tested them.

Only the old heads can't get it. They're not meant to. In fact, that is part of the appeal. You say these English words and older adults have no idea what you're talking about.

The 35 and under crowd all watch MTV and then mimic, speak, and sing the English heard there. They like it and think it's "kuhl".

That's like wanting a store to advertise "Spezial Angegote" or "Reduziert", instead of Sale. Four letters, everybody knows what it means, fits nicely in the window or on a sign.
09:47 August 29, 2011 by ChrisRea
I also think the prize is deserved. It is laughable to try to use foreign words when there are enough German words that can successfully say what is meant to. And in case of a national company like Telekom, which has a major influence on the language, it is even more important.
11:03 August 29, 2011 by frankiep
"These English language slogans and phrases are good marketing. The demographic that DT is appealing to likes them. Believe me, they have market tested them.

Only the old heads can't get it. They're not meant to. In fact, that is part of the appeal. You say these English words and older adults have no idea what you're talking about.

The 35 and under crowd all watch MTV and then mimic, speak, and sing the English heard there. They like it and think it's "kuhl".

I'm curious as to how you have come to these conclusions, because almost every German I know, most of whom are under 35, feel exactly the opposite of what you just described. In fact, many of those I know mostly view it as being ridiculous at best and even a bit insulting at worst. To imply that those who are under 35 all watch MTV and mindlessly mimic whatever they hear there in their daily lives without understanding it is pretty much the same thing as saying that Germans under 35 are looking for any reason they can find to not be German, which is patently false.

Besides, we're not talking about simply using "Sale" instead of "Reduziert", we are talking about using ridiculous 'English' words and terms that, while technically English, mean absolutely nothing or, worse yet, something completely different than what is intended.
11:09 August 29, 2011 by Joshontour
While we are at it, why not force all restaurants to change the names of their food products to German names. Want to eat Mexican? Don't order a Chimichunga anymore, instead try gefülltes frittiertes Fladenbrot aus Weizenmehl. Chinese? No more Chop Suey, how about verschiedene Gemüse und klein geschnittenes Fleisch mit Reis oder Nudeln. Fast Food? Instead of ordering chicken nuggets, let's say kleinen Hähnchenstücken im Backteig.
13:30 August 29, 2011 by gkh50
And for English, what about the saying "you know". CNN, etc use this all the time. It is so damm annoying as I do not "know"..
17:54 August 29, 2011 by MrBowlocks
The German word I always associate with being abused by Telekom is 'Günstig'. They seem unaware what it means, as it often precedes some outrageous price.
18:09 August 29, 2011 by Whipmanager
#19- Mr.Bowlocks-cute name by the way, you are hilariously accruate. I often thought about that in the 90's.

gkh50, sorry mein Freund, but that is what happens when you listen to socialist propaganda- and CNN is that.

But I will say that DT is a good company for its investors.
19:00 August 29, 2011 by Jack Kerouac
The funny thing is that it isn't that hard to hire a translator to give accurate translations! You'd think they would spare some little expense on that, since the English names and phrases they use are seen by thousands of people. It's like publishing a doctoral thesis without using spell check! Dumb!
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