Tag Archives: translation errors

Muffy the Survivalist

Monday night I had dinner with friends. Normally we would speak German, but for a change we were using English. At some point, one of my companions mentioned “preppies” and then in the next breath mentioned hoarding food and keeping a small arsenal and I began to suspect a cross-language mix-up was taking place. I asked him what was meant by “preppie” and he said something to the effect that it was someone who believed in “prepping” for the coming showdown with the US government. I did all I could not to laugh out loud at the confusion between “preppies” and “survivalists.” I was further surprised by his initial unwillingness to accept my statement that “preppies” were not  likely preparing for an apocalypse, but if they were, it would have been the fixings for G&Ts and Brooks Brothers button downs that they would have been hoarding (moreover hunting would be involved only through the ownership of some L.L. Bean duck boots).

Dict.cc does offer a couple of translations for the adjective “preppy,” namely adrett and popperhaft and mentions that it can refer to a style of dress or to someone who was a student at a preparatory school. It would appear, however, that “The Preppy Handbook” has not been translated (dict.cc will often mention book, film and song titles when a translation exists), depriving German speakers of the chance to appreciate idioms like “parallel parking,” “fruit loop” or “blow donuts” and nicknames like the eponymous Muffy and her pals Kiki, Skip and Missy.

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Abandoned in translation

Here’s how google translated hansestadt (yes, I know it should be capitalized but this is how it was written in the piece I wanted to check): “dumbbell.”  Now pons.eu tells me that “dumbbell” in the sense of “weight” should be die Hantel and der Dummkopf in the sense of, well, “dummkopf,” which entered English through channels such as Hogan’s Heroes. It does list “Hanseatic City” as well, but only when you click on, or should I say ring, dumbbell…

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