Wednesday, January 7, 2009

The Good, The Bad, The WTF

I am of the opinion that things do not get lost in translation inasmuch as translation is imperfect because of the languages themselves. We are hard wired to run everything through our native tongue and to try to fit everything foreign to us in this context. The problem is that language is most often not a one to one construct. Sure, some things do translate directly--numbers being the most obvious--but so many other things do not. It's like the (incorrect) adage of Eskimos Inuits having 40 words for snow. Even if they only have two, that's one more than I, as a native English speaker of the American South, have.

I'm guessing then that the Swiss, when translating into English from whatever dialect of German, French, Italian or Romansch has been used, run into a similar problem. Even if it is only for a two word phrase.

Never has a shirt posed such a short question that is not easily answered. Hundreds of answers could be given for this seemingly innocuous question. The easiest, of course, is "why not?" But that gets you nowhere. One has to consider the framing of the question. Sure, the default I went to is for illegal or illicit drugs, but I'm not sure that is what the shirt is asking. Perhaps this was part of a governmental push to get people to support drug research within the country. Maybe this was a pharmaceutical's attempt to break into the seemingly impenetrable Swiss market "Why drugs? Because you will feel better". Maybe, even, this was Kevorkian's attempt at a inroad into the Swiss suicide market. Who knows? I don't. The shirt refuses to answer the question.

If this was indeed an attempt to make potential illicit drug users ask themselves some hard questions, why was this done in Switzerland? Switzerland has a reputation for being liberal in its views on drug policy. Not like the traditional Dutch policy, but much more permissive than the USA. There was a time in the early 90s, about the time this shirt was produced, when awareness about needles and the spreading of AIDS entered into the conversation. Could that be what this is all about? If so, why not just do a revised West Brom shirt from the '80s?

Furthermore, what reason to fight any drug use do the club have? This shirt is from Grasshopper Club in Zurich. Now, the only thing I've ever known a Grasshopper to beat is my sweet tooth, when I've eaten grasshopper pie. Surely, the fan base of this club must partake in hallucinogens to get behind such a wimpily named club, right? Come on, grasshoppers are one step up from dust motes when deciding how to name your club ferociously. I digress. It's better than the American way of naming all of your teams the same.

Who are we?
The Wildcats!
Who are we gonna beat?
The Wildcats!


Mike Georger said...

Because they make Fantasia and Monty Python so much better.

Andrew said...

Why NOT drugs?