Tuesday, January 06, 2009

Ah words, words, words!

IN MY WORLD of graphic design we do a lot of advertising. We do it often for people who are less than initiated in advertising (Read my last post to see how well I interface with the uninitiated). These same individuals are also less than initiated at many other things, such as aesthetics, and... speech, actually.

Let me back up. Among the Deitsch speaking population, there are always words that get translated badly, whether from Dutch to English or vice versa. A good example of this is the common phrase "Mahs un goodah dag!" or in English "Have a good day!" These don't directly translate. The dutch text becomes "Make it a good day!" and the english text becomes "Hab un goodah dag!" which seems to imply that a good day would need to befall you by chance, or by a roll of the dice, and you would have to catch it and pin it down.

There are hilarious examples of these transliterations. A popular one is as follows: 2 little Amish boys are having a conversation. In English, it might sound like this:

Boy 1: "To get to town, you have to go down the road to the bridge, and turn."
Boy 2: "Oh, I know where the bridge is, my dad used to get water for his horse there!"

Because of word order and some dutch words sounding awfully much like english words ("bridge" in dutch is "brick"), that conversation has been comically rewritten like this:

Boy 1: "For to the town come, you go the road down to the brick, and turn over."
Boy 2: "Oh, I know where the brick is, my dad used to drink his horse there!"

Recently, a fresh new word has come to my office by way of an overzealous Amish man trying out a freshly crafted word: "I like most of de ad, but I chust wanna change some of dis verbage."

We're all fairly certain this man didn't know the meaning of the word "verbiage" which is used to insultingly describe a body of text that is wordy or overly technical. The great thing is, this one customer was not the only man to use this term! 2 customers, but men, both furniture makers, both likely acquainted with each other, have used this word copiously. We all love it, and find cause to use it over and over in a days work.

"Dat was some quality verbage, I sink."


Unknown said...

Actually, verbaige has two meanings. The vun you alluded to, as vell as chust "choice of words" or "manner in which something is expressed in words". But don't take my word for it. check out http://wordnetweb.princeton.edu/perl/webwn?s=verbiage

Nic Miller said...

Thats very interesting, Galen. In all my web searches I have found dictionaries and universities that said "DON'T USE THE WORD verbage TO MEAN "WORDING"!"

Guess I missed that one. My good, G.S. Patton even used that word. Maybe these two dudes were in the Army together.

Anonymous said...

*Sigh. Nic is writing again. Life is good. :-D Good stuff. I missed your "heady" "Philosophical" and "entirely to intelligent for your own good" posts. I will enjoy reading these though. I will leave the cutting skin and such to you however and I'll just drag the hurt peoples to you to take care of. I'm right in the middle of Anatomy and Physiology... fascinating to be sure but rather disgusting and difficult, I prefer my muscles and bones fully enveloped in skin. :-)

William Hoover said...

Hello again, Nic. Three times in a month - we are on quite the roll.

You should write more often - you're good at this.

miss amy said...

Hi there. I just happened onto here and had to smile. :):):) At you. and the people in your writings and the dumb amish furniture makers who don't know a thing about the meaning of art. Where have I heard that before? :) Good writing, though.