English Ad Slogans in Non-Anglophone Countries

This Spiegel article is about German of course, but just replace “Germany” and “German” with “France” and “French” and the outcome is the same.

How Germans Really See English Ad Slogans: English is all the rage in Germany — the height of fashion, except that many people don’t understand it. Consumer groups would like to see the language banned from German ads altogether.

If you spend much time in Germany, it won’t take long before you notice that speaking the language really isn’t that difficult. Any time you’re at a loss for a German word, just throw in some English and move on. For one thing, it’s the height of coolness to sprinkle your German with English. And for another, even if your German friends don’t understand, they’ll smile and nod for fear of looking dumm.

Plus, they do it too. Words like “office” and “meeting” long ago entered the German vocabulary. “Babysitten” and “downloaden” have been adopted. Even the word “people” has been molded to suit the needs of the German language — the term has a negative connotation to indicate folks who are disagreeable and tiresome.

But when it comes to advertising slogans, the use of English is becoming passé. Some advertisers have realized that many Germans just don’t understand — or even worse, misunderstand — their hip slogans. [...] The Vodafone slogan “Make the Most of Now” has weird associations with fruit juice (“Most”) for many Germans. “Welcome to the Beck’s Experience” didn’t work so well because many thought the last word meant “experiment.” The grand prize for slipshod slogans, though, goes to German television station Sat1, which used the catchphrase “Powered by Emotion.” This was taken by many to be a modern version of “Kraft durch Freude,” the Nazi party’s leisure organization, often translated into English as “strength through joy.”

[...] The German capital has just chosen a new — English language — slogan for the city: “Be Berlin.” But at least that catchphrase doesn’t exclude any part of the population. No one, after all, seems to have the slightest idea what it means.

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  • http://ausoleillevant.blogspot.com/ au soleil levant

    Sometimes I buy French Glamour or Cosmo to practice reading and learn some argot, except that most of the argot is English words that are usually used in a totally uncomprehensible way.

    au soleil levants last blog post..A Day in Paris, Cleverly Presented in Bullets

  • http://ausoleillevant.blogspot.com au soleil levant

    Sometimes I buy French Glamour or Cosmo to practice reading and learn some argot, except that most of the argot is English words that are usually used in a totally uncomprehensible way.

    au soleil levants last blog post..A Day in Paris, Cleverly Presented in Bullets

  • http://www.ielanguages.com Jennie Wagner

    @au soleil levant: Ha, I totally get that. I used to read the trashy celebrity magazines so I could learn slang, but most of it was just English words!

  • http://www.ielanguages.com Jennie

    @au soleil levant: Ha, I totally get that. I used to read the trashy celebrity magazines so I could learn slang, but most of it was just English words!

Why is Jennie no longer in France?

I created this blog in September 2006 when I moved to France from Michigan to teach English. Many of the earlier posts are about my personal life in France, dealing with culture shock, traveling in Europe and becoming fluent in French. In July 2011, I relocated to Australia to start my PhD in Applied Linguistics. Although I am no longer living in France, my research is on foreign language pedagogy and I teach French at a university so these themes appear most often on the blog. I also continue to post about traveling and being an American abroad.

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