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Some Funny Things in Vienna

July 2008
Puzzling things are in Vienna’s streets
In Vienna, in a street not far from Praterstern, is a shop selling vegetarian shoes. It says so in the window. Now this would seem to be funny, one of those attempts at being chic in a non-native language that falls flat on its bottom. I did think that upon seeing it, and so took the photograph, but I’ve since found that there’s quite a slick British website called Vegetarian Shoes based around a shop in Brighton, called, ahem, Vegetarian Shoes. It sells, ahem, shoes to vegetarians – and presumably to anyone else who fills in their credit card number.
Real Fakes
The shop in Vienna also has a sign in the window that advertises ‘Real Fakes’
Bad Design and Much More
There’s always a danger, when you try to be chic in a non-native language, that the result can sound funny to native speakers of that language. For example, if you run a bathroom-fitting company, and you’re in a German-speaking region, you could be well-advised to use the good old-fashioned German word, Bauart, rather than try to be clever with the English word, Design, otherwise you might end up selling Bad Design and Much More.
Katzen Würden Whiskas Kaufen
But even if you do you use the all-German, you can still end up sounding funny on a literal translation. For example you paint one of your trams shocking pink, put whacky cartoon pussycats all over it, and write along the top, ‘Katzen Würden Whiskas Kaufen’ (Cats Would Buy Whiskas).
Serious Driver
Vienna’s tram drivers look like quite a serious bunch, so perhaps the supposition about cats has some credibility.
More about Vienna on my Puzzling Things in the Wiener Prater page.


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