English only : People’s Car

Runs and runs and runs: The bug called Beetle in a festive mood. Bild: dpa

Let’s get rid of „The Awful German Language“! Mark Twain was right, it’s just too complicated. We may as well start in the heart of Germany: The People’s Car factory of Wolfscastle.

          Well, why not, everybody else does it all the time to feel modern and it’s only consequent for People’s Car (PC, formerly known as VW) as an international brand to do so as well. No, dear reader, no reason for panic. Normally we write here in high German but today we have to try another language because yesterday People’s Car from Wolfscastle has declared that not only their managers have to use English fluently within the next five years but that English will become the language of the concern (Konzernsprache).

          What comes one to mind when one thinks about Volkswagen after 1945? „He runs and runs and runs“ – but that was the day before yesterday when the most popular car made by Volkswagen was called „Beetle“ although it looked like a bug. Compared to that only yesterday happened a scandal with prostitutes and corruption and politicians who, as the „Mirror“ wrote, „have their fingers in this mess“.

          When there are only Germans in the room

          Ok, but that was ten years ago, and in the meantime Mr Piëch who owns the concern went on distance to his topmanager and soon afterwards the emission scandal came to light. Maybe it is because Volkswagen has so much to do with American lawyers and judges they decided to talk English now completely? Well, not really completely: When there are only Germans in the room they are allowed to talk German. The same is valid for Spanish at Seat, Czech at Śkoda, Italian at Lamborghini and British English at Bentley.

          We from the Feuilleton are keen to go with the times but a bit German Angst remains and so we would like to ask Karlheinz Blessing, the workers’ director who communicated the news: First of all please make sure your managers do not use the usual managerial Pidgin, avoid German nouns like compliance, asset, wording or commitment. When you really want to be smart try to repeat the success your Bavarian daughter Audi had when she claimed „Vorsprung durch Technik“. The whole world knows what is meant like the whole world uses words like Kindergarten, Lederhose oder Waldeinsamkeit. You have already damaged the good name Diesel – this must never happen again.

          Hannes Hintermeier

          Redakteur im Feuilleton, zuständig für „Neue Sachbücher“.


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