German Advertising Translation and German Culture
In studies of the use of humor in German advertising, a number of different humorous devices are usually distinguished: puns or word games, understatements, jokes, the ludicrous, the "comic" (as in comic strip), comedy, slapstick, satire, parody, irony, and black humor. In contrast to the stereotype of the German lack of humor, German studies distinguished a similar number of types of humor with only one difference: in English/American studies, "under-statement" is mentioned as a humorous device. This was not specified as a humorous device in the two German studies, which mentioned Schadenfreude (malicious pleasure) as a humorous device, one not mentioned in the Anglo-Saxon studies.
The fact that in Germany less humor is used in advertising than in England doesn't mean that the Germans have a lesser sense of humor, but it reflects the risk aversion attitude of the German advertising industry as well as the purpose of advertising in Germany that follows the persuasion model.
Translation of movie scripts for German audiences need to keep other cultural differences in mind. Germans, like most Europeans, are more distant with customers than Americans are used to, but can hardly be summed up as unfriendly. The artificial friendliness commonly practiced by shop assistants and restaurant staff in America would be off-putting to Germans.
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