October 15, 2009

safety razorI recently bought a Merkur old-fashioned safety razor from Vintage Blades (I’m not getting anything from either of them, I just thought this was funny), and the “sample blade” came wrapped in helpful advice (“After shave rinse only – do not wipe !”) and friendly assurances in five languages.  My favorite was this one:  “Please try this magnificient [sic] stainless steel razor blade.  You will be enthusiastic !”  In Spanish and French, even better, you’ll be “enthusiasmed”—entusiasmado and enthousiasmés, respectively.  (Note also that in Spanish there’s only one of you, but in French at least two—you’ll be sharing the razor with your mistress, I suppose?)

Other highlights:

Apparently “stainless steel” becomes in German rostfrei (“rust-free”), and variations on “inoxidizable” in Spanish, French, and Italian.

In French, “After shave rinse only – do not wipe !” becomes La barbe faite, rincez la lame – ne l’essuyez pas! (“The beard done, rinse the blade—don’t wipe it!”—ironically, in this sentence, French, the one language that I’m sure is supposed to have a space before the exclamation point, is the only one that doesn’t).

Also, in the last item in English, the spelling of the borrowed French word is incorrectly imported from the actual French below it:  “This is the connaisseur’s blade – uncommonly smooth and lasting in cut !”

I know, it’s not news that the instructions packaged with products are often hilariously mistranslated, probably not even by a person.  I just wanted to share the joy!

3 Responses to “Probeklinge”

  1. Evan Says:

    How do you like the razor itself? I’ve been thinking about getting a straight razor myself for a closer shave (semi-disposables, irrespective of how many blades, don’t do it for me anymore) and wondering whether the old fashioned types are really any better.

    Also, in contemporary French, it is spelled “connaisseur”, and enthousiasmés is probably plural because it must agree with the noun for the polite form of ‘you’, ‘vous’, which is morphologically plural.

  2. I am very satisfied with the razor. I can’t say for sure whether it works better than the cartridge razor I used to use—I wouldn’t trust myself to be able to tell, and I may be being influenced subconsciously by the article that convinced me to switch to a safety razor in the first place—but I think it does. A “straight razor” is the long blade by itself, right? the big old sword thing that a barber would sharpen on a leather strop? I can’t recommend those, at least not from experience.

    Sure, they had the spelling right in French, but then they used the same spelling in the English translation. Maybe I should be making fun of English for misspelling its borrowed words rather than the translator for carelessness, but either way, I thought it was worth mentioning—or, at least, as much worth mentioning as any of the other hair-splitting observations I was making about boring points of spelling and grammar.

    Maybe I don’t understand French grammar well enough. Even if vous is historically plural, like “you” in English, can’t it be used in both the singular and the plural now, not only in its actual meaning but also grammatically?

  3. Aha! At least according to some source I’ve never heard of, I’m right. At least, I think that’s what it’s saying: “…grammatically, even the singular form of ‘vous’ behaves as though it were a plural, so even if you are addressing only one person, you would still use verbal grammar consistent with addressing multiple people, similar to English (as in ‘you are’, ‘you [all] are’, ‘they are.’) Nevertheless, the adjectives or past participles are declined according to the true number of the referring pronoun.”

Agree? Disagree? Thoughts?

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: