May 2, 2007

Hey Dad, when I grow up, I also want to be square.

Posted by Ben Simo

Erkan Yilmaz, a fellow tester blogger from Germany, recently pointed out that the slogans in my post "Slogans are models" may not transmit their message across languages and cultures. He attempted to guess at what some of the slogans meant without the context of American culture and advertising. These slogans that most Americans will instantly understand didn't work very well out of their context.

We both saw this as an example of how recipients of information do not always have the full context in which the information originated. As testers, we need to admit when we don't understand and seek the answers (and context) from those that know. Sometimes we may need to bring subject matter experts into the conversation to fully understand what we are testing. If you don't know, ask questions. If you think you know, ask questions. You are bound to learn something.

I recently sat in some presentations by people from the "business" (as in not IT) side of some projects in which I am involved. I learned a great deal about how customers use our products and the business' vision for the future of the products. This information will help me better test the products. It is good to know more about the context in which the products I test are used.

Know thy user, for he is not thee.
David S. Platt

After our exchange about the American slogans, Erkan provided the following list of slogans from German-speaking countries for interpretation by those of us that live outside that context.

1. “Hey Dad, when I grow up, I also want to be square.”
2. “We wake up earlier.”
3. “We can do everything but speak Standard German.”
4. “With the second eye you see better.”
5. “Firm as a rock in the surge.”
6. “We demand and bring forward personalities.”
7. “Try it in a gentle way.”
8. “It was never so valuable as in these times.”
9. “If it makes you beautiful…”
10. “Well, is today already christmas ?”

What do you think these mean?

See Erkan's original post of this list here.
And after you have tried to interpret the list, look here for their real meanings.

Viel SpaƟ!




May 03, 2007  
Anonymous wrote:

Hello Ben,

as you say, I also liked the idea with the slogans - because it is a simple way to show the importance of context.
(I will try to find as much as possible multimedia info to the slogans, so people have a better experience with them.)

If you don't know, ask questions. If you think you know, ask questions.
Unfortunately some people see the fact, that people ask questions as a sign of weakness :-( (Of course there are also "bad" questions (see How To Ask Questions The Smart Way), but I am sure people posing these will learn from the reactions.)

btw: Ben, you scored pretty good, because I selected some difficult slogans. Who else wants to take the challenge ?

To everybody: if you are from another country, would you be so kind and publish some slogans too ?


May 03, 2007  
Ben Simo wrote:

Click here for an interesting list of advertising translations gone wrong.