Friday, October 14, 2011

hello starbucks

I had a bad day yesterday. Not overly bad, or completely bad, but there was a lot of traffic and that made me late, I had forgotten to take my allergy pills so my eyes itched, I picked the vegetarian sushi by mistake at the counter, and when I opened a can in the car the content overflowed and made a mess.

So I went to Starbucks for a well needed dose of caffein. I told the woman behind the counter that I wanted the largest regular coffee (I had a long afternoon, and evening, in front of me). She put her nose in the air and repeated "A large regular coffee?, with a HUGE question mark at the end. I repeated, "Yeah, the largest size, regular drip coffee, please." Now she got it.

What I should have said, and what she tried to bully me into saying, was "A venti drip, please", because that's Starbucks speak for large coffees.

Annika Norlin, who has two musical projects, 'Säkert!' where she sings in Swedish, and 'Hello Saferide' where she sings in English, has just taken it upon herself to translate her Swedish lyrics into English. She has a large international following, and she's gotten a lot of emails from fans who want to know what the words mean.

Norlin decided to do literal translations, so the English lyrics on her new album 'In English' are not idiomatic. The words are English, but the flavor is Swedish, and in interviews she has spoken of it as "a third language". She says it was an experiment, and that the end result could be flat and boring, or kind of charming.

Annika Norlin's "third language"? Charming, if you ask me. Starbucks' "third language"? Ridiculous. Dumb. Dumbe.


Umepojk i Mason, Ohio said...

I'm with you. When i happen to stop at a Starbucks, I still ask for small or large.

Unknown said...

Prof. Kratz,

I can totally relate to your Starbucks incident. I ordered a Double Chocolate Chip Frappucino Grande, it almost seem like what we were discussing in class [impersonal role] of being able o communicate in another 'language' when it comes to ordering something at Starbucks, and it is very hard to imagine some tourist having a difficult time trying to let the cashier know that 'hey, I want to order a medium not a grande, grande seems a lot bigger than medium that I wanted to order'