Germans confused by English terms


GERMANY’S national rail company is to drop some of its English-language marketing terms after passengers complained they could not understand them, a spokesman said last week.

“For example, ‘Counter’ will become ‘Schalter’, ‘Hotline’ will become ‘Servicenummer’ and ‘Flyer’ will become ‘Handzettel’,” Reinhard Boeckh of Deutsche Bahn revealed.

Some English terms will remain, such as “Intercity” and “Bahncard”– the firm’s discount card for frequent travellers – as passengers understand them, Boeckh said.

A service known as “call-a-bike“, which allows passengers to rent a bicycle will also go unchanged, but the firm will add a line to its literature in German explaining what the term means.

Reflecting a growing resistance in Germany to the spread of English, member of parliament Erika Steinbach welcomed the move, saying that daily life was becoming increasingly incomprehensible.

“Millions of Germans are going through life having to guess rather than really knowing what is going on, because products, adverts and instructions are in a foreign language,” Steinbach said.

She added: “This must end. It must be possible to understand the everyday world with our own language.”

Boeckh said Deutsche Bahn chief Ruediger Grube had sent a letter to a member of parliament outlining the proposed changes. – AFP

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