Freitag Fun: No Flirting with the Bicycles

img_0592Apparently making a pass at bicycles is not authorized, and neither is parking for that matter.

You would think that Berlin at the height of its Berlinale (Berlin’s International Film Festival) frenzy would have known better.

This sign was found in Potsdamer Platz in Berlin during the Berlinale Film Festival (February 2008). I don’t often take pictures of the translation mistakes I find, if only because there are so many of them. But then every once in awhile there is one that catches my eye, one that I don’t want to forget.

German is a brilliant language with a limited supply of root verbs and despite that no lack of expressions for the most specific of actions, thanks to those separable prefixes and not so separable prefixes. It can get confusing though. Of course, abstellen should not be confused with anstellen or feststellen or stellen for that matter. The same goes for schliessen and anschliessen and zuschliesssen and aufschliessen. Machen is one of the most commonly used verbs in all of German in all of its various forms, but in some cases it just doesn’t fit.


6 responses to “Freitag Fun: No Flirting with the Bicycles

  1. what makes you think it´s a translation?

    • Sarah Vilece

      You are right, Karsten. I don’t know why I thought this was a translation, perhaps because I am a translator or because I am an English speaker living in a German-speaking land. I need to start a new category perhaps: instead of ‘translation mistakes’ make it ‘hysterical language f&%$§?=)’.

  2. Why do you think “anmachen” is being used incorrectly. Have I missed something?

    etwas (irgendwo) anmachen gespr; etwas irgendwo festmachen befestigen: ein Plakat an der Wand anmachen

    (befestigen) attach; mit Nadel etc.: fasten, sew on (an + Dat to)

    • Hi jwf, thanks for the comment. Though ‘ein Plakat an der Wand anmachen’ may be found in the dictionary (-I wouldn’t believe everything I find in the Free Online Dictionary-) it is quite an unusual choice in this case. There are usually other, better words to mean ‘attach’, like ‘befestigen’. Using ‘anmachen’ to mean attach would be very colloquial (‘gespr’) and certainly not something to put up on a sign. If I were to say it, my German husband would definitely correct me:) Otherwise ‘anmachen’ is more often used to refer to flirting.

  3. “(-I wouldn’t believe everything I find in the Free Online Dictionary-)”!

    Why so presumptious?

    I found the defintion is the entry in Langenscheidt’s e-Grosswoerterbuch – it most certainly was not free….

    You don’t trust Langenscheidt either?

    • I certainly don’t mean to sound presumptuous, but rather I feel that many translators rely far too heavily on dictionaries. ‘But it’s in the dictionary’ is not an excuse for an awkward and choppy sentence structure and/or translation. I do use Langenscheidt, by the way. But I also still think that ‘Fahrrad anmachen’ is an unusual and awkward sentence structure.

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