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February 04, 2005


Bjoern Ognibeni

"Kundenverarschung" doesn't really mean customer abuse. Instead "screwing customers" would be a good translation - it has the same nice metaphorical touch to it... ;-)

Btw, the mail actually did come from someone at Ogilvy. I asked him directly and he admitted it. But I don't know if anybody else got such a message...

Alan Little

I wouldn't go with "abuse" for "Verarschung". In my not bilingual but fluent opinion, the closest English equivalent would be "taking the piss"; but I don't know an American equivalent for that British phrase.

I don't like "screwing" either Bjorn - to my mind that would imply actually defrauding them in some way, rather than just taking mildly dishonest liberties as in this example.

Alan Little

Hurrah. I must be more bilingual than I think I am, because the Oxford-Duden Dictionary agrees with me: "verarschen: take the piss (Brit)" and offers no (Am) version.

In case you're not familiar with the term, "are you taking the piss?" means "you're trying to deceive me but in such a blatantly transparent and pathetic way that either you're joking, or you think I'm completely stupid, or you're completely stupid". Which seems to apply exactly to this situation if you're right about what O&M appear to be doing.

Tim Oren

(NB: The title originally contained 'Customer Abuse' as a (manual) translation for German slang term 'Kundenverarschung'. Google/Systran had no idea what to do with that word.)

I bow to your expertise on Brit slang, Alan, but as you may note I'm a self-confessed colonial. We bow towards Oxford, but do not necessarily emulate it :)

So, I've reverted to a version of the title of the original, twice-quoted post that's more likely to make it through certain filters. I also suspect that the (US? West Coast?) expression 'diddling' is somewhat close to the Brit and German concepts at play here, but perhaps a bit more opaque to the polyglot audience that seems to wander through here.

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