October 3, 2012 11:22 pm

Polite chatter does not translate

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From Mr John O’Byrne.

Sir, Andrew Tylecote (Letters, October 2) does his best to smooth things over at tense German-French meetings by introducing a nonchalant Brit with a good Liverpudlian sense of humour. I should warn him that politeness research carried out by the University of Hamburg has found that Germans do not do small talk (“empty verbiage”). This is indeed a British (and Irish) forte, but from a German perspective is close to deceit. In the German translation of A Bear Called Paddington, all the polite, inconsequential conversational chatter (“Hello, Mrs Bird,” said Judy. “It’s nice to see you again. How’s the rheumatism?”) was simply omitted.

John O’Byrne, Dublin, Ireland

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