English in German marketing communications

There’s much more need than there are qualified language service providers. Using me can save a lot of embarrassment and even more time.

There is a diversity of needs for proficient English in a German marketing environment. The first thing that springs to mind is of course the import of (typically American) English copy into the German marketplace. Although most Germans start learning English as fifth-graders, the majority of German copywriters still shy back from adapting English copy for fear of missing something. Seeking support from a professional translator generally exacerbates the problem even more.

With Germany being an export nation, translating German copy into English is another frequent task. More often than not, the resulting English copy is not meant to be run unedited in English-speaking markets. Instead it either serves as an intermediary from which local versions are generated around the world, or it is the default lingua franca version. Whatever the intent, knowing at least two languages has taught me to be careful with puns and figures of speech.

This latter aspect also supports my opinion that being ‘not too native’ is sometimes commendable when developing international campaigns: British advertising in particular revels in witty headlines that will cause practically any foreign adaptor considerable headache. Being what linguists call an ‘L2 speaker’, I am sensitive to what can presumably be expressed in another language and what cannot.

Developing advertising copy in English from the start also saves a lot of time wherever the decision-making committee is international, even if the work is ultimately for the German market only. It can be so heartbreaking to pour your lifeblood into a piece of well-written German copy only to see it smashed to pulp in the approval process just because the brass have no appreciation for the language. Better to get an approval for what you intend to say first and then say it with grace and beauty  ...

A final purpose I wish to mention here is one the public will never see: presentations. In translating presentations (in either direction), you have to keep in mind the respective skill level of the presenter. Nothing is won by sending someone into a pitch stumbling over every other word. A trained teacher, I can evaluate the speaker’s proficiency and adjust the language accordingly.