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Off topic: Let’s do Warsaw - how would you understand it?
Thread poster: Magda Dziadosz

Magda Dziadosz  Identity Verified
Poland
Local time: 08:47
Member (2004)
English to Polish
+ ...
Apr 28, 2004

Dear All,
We have a debate on Polish forum about the English slogan promoting the city of Warsaw, but I think it would be interesting to hear opinions of English users from other countries. So, here is the story:

In relation to the European Economic Forum which starts today, the City authorities have organised a promotional campaign which includes posters and billboards with the slogan in English “Let’s do Warsaw”.
The English slogan is highly criticised in media for it’s double meaning, some say it rather ridicules the city instead of encouraging to visit it. The accompanying Polish wording translated literally would mean “Let’s create Warsaw”, BTW.

What do you think? If you see such posters, what comes to your mind first? Would you find it ridiculous, acceptable or good?

Curious to hear your opinions,

Magda


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Rubén de la Fuente  Identity Verified
Local time: 08:47
English to Spanish
+ ...
Not so bad... Apr 28, 2004

What comes first to my mind when I read is something like "Let's hit Warsaw" or "Let's go to Warsaw". Probably not the wittiest thing, but seems alright. I'm a native speaker of Spanish, anyway. My 2 cents.

Rubén


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Gillian Searl  Identity Verified
United Kingdom
Local time: 07:47
Member (2004)
German to English
It only ridicules the people who "do" cities Apr 28, 2004

As a native speaker, when I hear that expression I get the impression of a bunch of (American? Japanese?) tourists on a bus tour through Europe seeing 20 countries in 15 days and therefore not really seeing anything. Of course it's also used for people visiting a city, for example over the weekend. Such people are again trying to see as much as possible in the shortest possible time. There is no hint of "create" in the English.

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GoodWords  Identity Verified
Mexico
Local time: 00:47
Spanish to English
+ ...
Let's do the town! Apr 28, 2004

The precise meaning of "do" in the slogan can be seen at http://www.wordreference.com/english/definition.asp?en=do.
The relevant meaning from this long list is #22:
"22 [transitive] (informal)
to visit or explore as a sightseer or tourist
example: to do Westminster Abbey"

A related connotation is given in the idiomatic use defined at http://home.t-online.de/home/toni.goeller/idiom_wm/id163.htm - where we find:
"do the town: celebrate or party all over town"

The slogan does not seem derogatory to me; it implies that Warsaw is a fun, exiting place to visit. As for the "double meaning", are some people perhaps thinking of #31 or #32 in the Collins definition? For shame!

The interpretation of "create the city" apparently falls into the common mistake of confusing "do" with "make." I don't know Polish, but from looking up "do" and "make" in the dictionary, I see that some words such as "ROBIÆ", "ZROBIÆ", "NAROBIÆ", "POCZYNIÆ", can mean either "do" or "make". To give examples from languages I do know, it's like "faire" in French or "hacer" in Spanish.

(Sorry I can't get the Polish characters to come out right, but I hope you can understand what words I was trying to write.)

[Edited at 2004-04-28 20:55]


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Terry Gilman  Identity Verified
Germany
Local time: 08:47
Member (2003)
German to English
+ ...
What's the objective of the program? Apr 28, 2004

Is it to attract visitors? That's what the phrase alone suggests to me, as it did to Ruben.

Or is it to encourage inhabitants to look after their city? Then it would be off the mark.

[Edited at 2004-04-28 18:03]


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Narasimhan Raghavan  Identity Verified
Local time: 12:17
English to Tamil
+ ...
Suppose one were to say, "Let's do a Warsaw"? Apr 28, 2004

In that case it would mean let us imitate some great deed. As far as I am concerned, the one great thing done in Warsaw was its uprising in the year 1943, against the then mighty Nazi occupation forces. I refer to the Warsaw ghetto and I am reminded of Mila 18 of Leon Uris.
On the other hand just doing Warsaw conjures up rapidly visiting the city like the tourista do. "If it's Tuesday, it must be Belgium".
Regards,
N.Raghavan


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Magda Dziadosz  Identity Verified
Poland
Local time: 08:47
Member (2004)
English to Polish
+ ...
TOPIC STARTER
Common mistake... Apr 28, 2004

GoodWords wrote:

The interpretation of "create the city" apparently falls into the common mistake of confusing "do" with "make." I don't know Polish, but from looking up "do" and "make" in the dictionary, I see that some words such as "ROBIÆ", "ZROBIÆ", "NAROBIÆ", "POCZYNIÆ", can mean either "do" or "make". To give examples from languages I do know, it's like "faire" in French or "hacer" in Spanish.


It seems that the part about "creation" was a mistranlation of original English (Let's do...) by the newspaper! Apparently slogans on posters are in English only and addressed to English speakers.

Thank you all for you great input!!


Magda


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pidzej  Identity Verified
Poland
Local time: 08:47
Polish to English
+ ...
So what's the rationale anyways? Apr 28, 2004

Magda Dziadosz wrote:

It seems that the part about "creation" was a mistranlation of original English (Let's do...) by the newspaper! Apparently slogans on posters are in English only and addressed to English speakers.

Magda

Not that it makes much sense advertising Warsaw in Warsaw to people who already happen to be in - you guessed - Warsaw, of all places, does it?


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Terry Gilman  Identity Verified
Germany
Local time: 08:47
Member (2003)
German to English
+ ...
Link to online book about the destruction Apr 28, 2004

I was looking for something on rebuilding, but this contains an interesting chapter on the extent of the devastation -

http://www.anthonymtung.com/excerpts.htm


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Sheila Hardie  Identity Verified
Spain
Local time: 08:47
Member
Catalan to English
+ ...
Totally negative impression Apr 28, 2004

Magda Dziadosz wrote:

Dear All,
We have a debate on Polish forum about the English slogan promoting the city of Warsaw, but I think it would be interesting to hear opinions of English users from other countries. So, here is the story:

In relation to the European Economic Forum which starts today, the City authorities have organised a promotional campaign which includes posters and billboards with the slogan in English “Let’s do Warsaw”.
The English slogan is highly criticised in media for it’s double meaning, some say it rather ridicules the city instead of encouraging to visit it. The accompanying Polish wording translated literally would mean “Let’s create Warsaw”, BTW.

What do you think? If you see such posters, what comes to your mind first? Would you find it ridiculous, acceptable or good?

Curious to hear your opinions,

Magda


My immediate reaction - as a native speaker of English - is that this phrase has strong sexual connotations. I have just asked a few British friends and they had the same first impression.

It certainly does not sound positive to me. I fully agree with those who said it ridicules the city.


Sheila

[Edited at 2004-04-28 21:24]


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RobinB  Identity Verified
Germany
Local time: 08:47
German to English
Not a happy choice of slogan Apr 28, 2004

Magda,

As a Brit, I have to say that the first thing that springs to mind when I see the slogan "Let's do Warsaw" is that the last ones to "do" Warsaw were the Germans in 1944. Although I suppose that the massive building in the city centre, which my first wife (Polish) used to refer to in terms of the male organ, was Stalin's slightly more recent attempt to shaft Warsaw.

Yes, I suppose it might fit into the "Do 10 cities in 10 days" scheme that Gillian so rightly disparages, but that's not exactly encouraging people to spend more than, say, 10 minutes in Warsaw (which despite its faults certainly used to have some of the best ice cream in Europe, at least back in the early 1980s).

I just wonder if the city council really knew what they were doing. Were they the victim of a translator with a warped sense of humour? Or merely of somebody with a lousy command of English?

Robin


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Henry Dotterer
Local time: 02:47
SITE FOUNDER
Two impressions left - one good, one bad Apr 28, 2004

It is sometimes expected of advertising copy that at least two meanings be present. This slogan has them.

To me, a native speaker of American English, the primary meaning is apropos and works well. The secondary meaning, if considered (and I believe it is natural to assume an American will consider it), will almost surely leave one with a negative impression.

Not having seen the posters, I wonder whether context has not been used to reinforce the positive meaning. If the slogan is in large black letters on a white background, it is ridiculous. If it is a minor part of ads featuring scenes of people enjoying the city, or doing business, it might be acceptable, even good.

The negative meaning is funny enough that it would reflect poorly on those who selected it more than the city itself, I would think. For me, the existence of a negative secondary meaning would have been reason enough to reject the slogan. That it has been criticized either proves that the ad did not work--or it proves that it did!


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Joanna Kwiatowska  Identity Verified
Poland
Local time: 08:47
Polish to English
+ ...
:-D Apr 28, 2004

pidzej wrote:
Not that it makes much sense advertising Warsaw in Warsaw to people who already happen to be in - you guessed - Warsaw, of all places, does it?


LOL!


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Susana Galilea  Identity Verified
United States
Local time: 01:47
English to Spanish
+ ...
let's do the hokey-pokey... Apr 28, 2004

RobinB wrote:
As a Brit, I have to say that the first thing that springs to mind when I see the slogan "Let's do Warsaw" is that the last ones to "do" Warsaw were the Germans in 1944.


That was my first impression as well, followed by the sexual connotation, followed by the image of throngs of voracious tourists...perhaps even a few drunken sailors if only there was a harbor...not so positive an impression, with all respect due drunken sailors

I am a near-native speaker of English born in Western Europe, for whatever that's worth to your research...

Cheers,

Susana Galilea
Accredited Translator EUTI
sgalilea@ispwest.com
www.accentonspanish.com


[Edited at 2004-04-29 02:37]


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Giles Watson  Identity Verified
Italy
Local time: 08:47
Italian to English
Let's do lunch/dinner/Warsaw Apr 29, 2004

Hi folks,

The collocation "let's do Warsaw" suggests to me a parallel with the phrase "let's do lunch/dinner (sometime)".

Since this is commonly a brush-off, at least in UK usage, as the speaker has no intention of ever lunching or having dinner with the interlocutor, "let's do Warsaw" risks being perceived as negative.

But as Henry says, the typography or accompanying image could modulate or even overturn that message, and would presumably have to, if the aim of the campaign is to promote the city of Warsaw.

Still, the polysemic nature of "do" makes the slogan interesting (it's certainly got us talking!), and potentially amusing, depending on how the overall message+image is presented.

I'm afraid I didn't immediately think of the sexual connotations of the phrase, but then I'm not exactly in the first flush of youth any more, and the old hormones aren't as active as they used to be.

Cheers,

Giles


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