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Off topic: Those living abroad: how is your home country portrayed in the local media?
Thread poster: Marion Lurf

Marion Lurf  Identity Verified
United Kingdom
Local time: 01:50
English to German
+ ...
Jun 9, 2006

...Or, what is equally interesting, what perception do the locals have of your home country?


This thought came to my mind when watching the football match Germany - Costa Rica on BBC just before. I once again realised that the atmosphere would have probably been different if I had watched it on German (or Austrian) TV...

I also recall the Olympic Games in Turin this year. I was watching alpine skiing on BBC with some Austrian friends, when one of the commentators said: "Austria is a skiing nation. In fact, every Austrian is dreaming of becoming a professional skier." We had a very good laugh!

Also, when telling people here that I'm from Austria, most do not relate anything to my home country (apart from the Sound of Music maybe, or "the beautiful city of Vienna"), and often they even confess that I'm the first Austrian they meet.
Similarly, years before I moved to Scotland, the only impression I had was one of "the mystic highlands you need to see".

What about those of you also living abroad, do you have similar (funny) experiences you would like to share?

Marion

[Edited at 2006-06-09 19:13]


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iralima

Local time: 01:50
English to Russian
+ ...
hi Jun 9, 2006

i am from Ukraine, but live in Portugal. 99% of people here still think, that Ukraine is still a part of Russia...

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Branka Stankovic McCarthy  Identity Verified
Serbia
Local time: 02:50
English to Serbian
+ ...
Serbian in London Jun 9, 2006

I was a Serb living in the UK during the war in former Yugoslavia. Need I say more?

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Ritu Bhanot  Identity Verified
France
Local time: 02:50
Member (2006)
French to Hindi
+ ...
An Indian in France Jun 9, 2006

Well, during one of the conferences (that I attended during my stay in France) I was shocked to hear some really strange views about Yoga (that I have been practising since I was 6 years old and have even written a book about it). And the speaker was quite renowned person...

And it was really funny, 'coz everyone took his words soooo seriously...

But generally speaking my experience was an excellent one!!!


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Erik Hansson  Identity Verified
Germany
Member (2002)
Swedish
+ ...
A Swede in Germany Jun 9, 2006

My home country is often described as a very cold country, covered with snow at least three quarters of the year. Well, it's definitely not.

People here can only hardly believe that we have five different climate zones, due to the size of the country. The very south of Sweden, region of Scania, were I come from, has a coastal climate, i.e. not very hot summers and not very hard winters. This means that the winters here on the continent often get colder and have more snow than back in Scania.

But try to get those people here to understand that further north automatically doesn't mean that it gets colder. It's just like as if everything more north than Hamburg gets 10 degrees colder, no matter if continental or coastal climate.

Now and then I tell some fairy-tales, about ice-bears roaming about in our gardens and that every family keeps a moose as a domestic animal. I'm not surprised anymore that some people do believe me

Erik

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[Bearbeitet am 2006-06-09 19:52]


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Susana Galilea  Identity Verified
United States
Local time: 19:50
English to Spanish
+ ...
a Spaniard in the U.S. Jun 9, 2006

can you spell P-A-S-S-I-O-N

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Jo-Hanna Goettsche  Identity Verified
United States
Local time: 19:50
English to Spanish
"Oh, Por-tu REE-koh! Jun 9, 2006

The reaction I get from most people when I tell them I am from Puerto Rico. Along with mentioning the one other Puerto Rican person they know or have heard about.

My country is virtually invisible in the local media. Even a recent situation (the government running out of money before the end of the fiscal year) did not merit more than a little mention several pages into the paper.


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xxxtazdog
Spain
Local time: 02:50
Spanish to English
+ ...
American in Spain Jun 9, 2006

Just the opposite of Susana...

Can't say much because of the ban on politics, but probably about the same as in most of the rest of the world. Not too great.


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Deschant
Local time: 01:50
Spaniard in Germany Jun 9, 2006

When I tell people I am from Spain most of them say: "Oh dear, how hard must it be for you to get used to the German weather". In fact I come from the Northwest of Spain and we do have rain, wind and cold in winter, not really very different from the British or German weather, and definitively nothing to do with the always sunny weather some people think we always have in Spain. Some of them -though only a few- have even asked me if I can sing or dance flamenco or if I enjoy bullfighting. Anyway, I have been positively impressed by the fact that (relatively) many people know about my region (Galicia), some of them because of the "Camino de Santiago" but many more because of... the local football teams which play in the Champions' League.

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Johanna Timm, PhD  Identity Verified
Canada
Local time: 17:50
Member (2002)
English to German
+ ...
German in Canada Jun 9, 2006

As a German in Canada
Are you from Heidelberg? (Not true, I’m from Berlin)
Wow, but you don’t LOOK German! (Not true, I’m even sporting braids)
You don’t happen to have any of that really yummy German chocolate on you, do you? (True, I do, always!)

As a Canadian in Germany
Wow, it must be sooo cold in Canada, how can you stand it! (Not true, I live in Western Canada and come February, I’m back in my T-shirt)
Do you have moose in your backyard? (Not true, but racoons and bears)
Is there always lots of snow? (Obviously, they didn’t listen to my first answer


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Vanessa Rivera Rivier  Identity Verified
Puerto Rico
Local time: 20:50
Italian to English
+ ...
Puerto Rican in Italy Jun 9, 2006

I lived for one year in Florence and one day as I was walking through the streets I saw a local demonstration with many people holding the Puerto Rican flag. I thought it rather odd that there would be so many Puerto Ricans in Florence, Italy, all waving proudly the flag. A national Puerto Rican day parade in Florence? No, it couldn't be. I got closer to the group and upon further observation I found that they were a no-global group, and that they thought they were waving the flag of Cuba, not the flag of Puerto Rico. (The Puerto Rican and Cuban flag are very similar) I laughed at the irony, because Puerto Rico has been a US territory for many years and all the participants thought they were making a big statment about capitalism with the "Cuban" flag.

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Heike Behl, Ph.D.  Identity Verified
Local time: 17:50
Member (2003)
English to German
+ ...
German in California Jun 9, 2006

A number of years ago, the car company VW used the German word "Fahrvergnügen" as one-word slogan in their TV commercials for the US market.

In the German forum, we often make fun of the Germans' attempt to use English in advertising just to sound cool. This sometimes leads to funny misunderstandings on the consumers' side. However, here's an example of an extremely successful marketing campaign using a foreign expression which hardly anyone understood.

Everywhere I went, as soon as people found out that I was German, I was asked: "Well, what does Fahrvergnügen actually mean?" For a couple of months, I answered patiently the many questions from friends, foes and total strangers. But it got a bit old after a while and it became more and more difficult to repeat the same explanation over and over (i.e. it means something like the fun of driving).

The final straw was when my roommate's fiance asked the same question (I think he was the third person that day). I just answered: "It means: take your wife to dinner." He was quiet for a while, obviously digesting my answer. I was expecting him to laugh since he is a highly educated person, who loves Wagner operas and also knows some German. Well, he did laugh, but then he said: "It's so typically American to use a word of which they don't even know the meaning!"

I managed to keep a straight face and only fell off the sofa laughing after he'd left. My "new" explanation made the rounds. A while later I "confessed" to my roommate that and why I had just made up an explanation... She didn't talk to me for a while!

But the slogan was so popular it even resulted in some imitations such as T-Shirts or car stickers with "Fuckengrooven" and similar variations on them.

It's always good to spread some German culture!


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HelioJP
Local time: 09:50
Japanese to Portuguese
+ ...
Brazilian in Japan Jun 10, 2006

Well, I am from Brazil and I live in Japan. The image of Brazil here is simply about soccer, samba and carnival. Brazil is too far from Japan!!!!

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Fan Gao
Australia
Local time: 11:50
Member (2006)
English to Chinese
+ ...
British in China Jun 10, 2006

The most common question I'm asked is "Is it true that it rains every day in England?" Where they get this idea from I don't know and all they say is that it is something that they have heard.

Chinese people also seem to have this notion that English food is tasteless and bland....of course I correct them and educate them as much as possible to inform them that it absolutely isn't. Oh how I miss a good sunday roast!! If only Chinese kitchens were equipped with an oven I could show them how good a classic British roast can taste.

Great question Marion! and it's interesting to read how others, and their respective countries, are perceived.

Best wishes,
Mark


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Tim van den Oudenhoven
Germany
Local time: 02:50
Member (2006)
English to Dutch
+ ...
Belgian in Sweden, Belgian in Spain, Belgian in Australia Jun 10, 2006

Strangely enough, most comments are the same wherever you go:

Some people ask:
"You're from Belgium? So do you speak Belgian?" (Sigh)

People who know something more ask:
"So you speak some weird form of French then?"

People who know about the two languages in Belgium ask:
"So do you speak Flemish or French?"

After I told them I'm from the Flemish part, but that the language is actually called Dutch, they could ask
"So where do they speak Flemish then?" (I forgive them this, it means they knew something about it anyway).

Other than that, we brush our teeth with chocolate, rinse it with some beer, and some people seem to remember a former king of us killing a million Congolese people.

Also funny, when I told certain people in Belgium I was going to Australia for a year (where I am now), some of them warned me about the "fact" that all Australians are criminals, - "it used to be a prison you know!!!!" - so that I should be careful.

Belgians about Sweden: they start speaking Dutch with the "eu" vowel sound for every vowel in Dutch (like "ö" in Swedish but not the same - and very annoying too. Once they came to visit and noticed the melody of the Swedish language, they had to stop it), the cold (which they do have (minus 40 in Kiruna WAS cold, despite it being milder in Scania)), expensive alcohol, etc...


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