SAP’s secret language (no not ABAP)

I read a lot about how written and spoken English is heading down hill.

Buy this book, The Mangling and Manipulating of the English Language or, if you like, I can lend you my copy. I suggest you also buy this book. The Adventure of English, by Melvyn Bragg. Whoever borrowed my copy please give it back. The English language though, is fascinating and dynamic. I quote from the review…

“In this book Melvyn Bragg shows us the remarkable story of the English language; from its beginnings to a minor guttural Germanic dialect to its position today as a truly established global language.”

My wife and I speak a minor guttural Germanic dialect too. It is a mix of German words with our own unique take on German Grammar and pronunciation. She describes it here.

While my vocabulary is always growing, my grammar is like a rebellious teenager: refusing to grow up and refine itself.

We lived in Germany from 1996-1999, and then we moved to the UK for a couple of years. In order to keep my German going I went to German lessons. At first, the teacher was really pleased to be teaching something other than “ein Bier, bitte.” But after a while she realised the shoddy state of my grammar mixed in with a large dose of kurpfaelzisch dialect and slang. Coming from Hannover, she commented, “Sie sprechen Deutsch wie ein besoffener Bauer” Which translates to you speak German like a drunk farmer. I was insulted, but then when I told my German mates about it, they felt it was high praise, as that was exactly how they had taught me the language.

That is not to say that Pfaelzisch can’t be literary. Here is a bit of Romeo and Juliet.

Romeo kummt in de Gade)

Romeo: Was soll ich narre mache?

(Julia guckt owe aus’m Fenschter raus)

Romeo: Ach Gott er Leit, was guckt dann do owe durch’s Fenschter? Des esch jo die Julia. Kumm emol raus mei Sießi ! Sie esches, mei Schneck, mei Liebschti ! O wie se die Hand uff de Backe lecht ! Wär isch doch de Handschuh uff dere Hand und deed den sieße Backe kisse.
Julia: Jesses er Leit, was babbelscht dann so gschwolle do rum ?
Romeo: Ach Gott, her der des mol a, die redd jo! Hob, red nochmol, sach noch was. Dei Stimm esch jo so schäh !

I suppose that is the long tail of Shakespeare.

There is some concern in Germany and lots in France about the growing dominance of English, and how it encroaches and consumes. My German readers my find this clip interesting.

Here is the French view on this issue,  in English?

Alphabet soup describes the jargon that permeates the software industry well. As an industry we bombard our customers with three letter acronyms. SAP is as guilty as anyone in this regard. We cloak solutions in a fog of TLAs.  Lawyers and economists use latin phrases like volenti non injura,consensus facit legem, ceteris paribus, de minimis non curat lex and so on. The terms are useful to those in the know, but they create a barrier to the rest of us. 

Adding the 2.0 suffix merely makes it worse. Also, the software industry forces english acronyms into foreign languages. ROI, SOA,ERP, and have now penetrated the fabric of German and French. If you think it is tough following the alphabet soup in your own language, spare a thought for those that are doing it in a second or third language.

SAP’s headoffice is near Mannheim, a zone of serious dialect. Historically it is rich in innovation, the first car was built nearby.  Baden-Württenberg has made a very successful advertising campaign, it translates to “we can do everything except high-German.” There have been a number of TV ads, bumper stickers and so on.  Some of the ads are rather funny. 

This clip was put together by an unknown, but really witty colleague. It is about 4 years old, but still relevant. It has been mailed around SAP internally and externally many times, but recently it has found its way onto-into youtube.  I wasn’t sure whether to post it or not, but anyway, here it is.  We can laugh at ourselves here in enterpriseyland. I really enjoyed the recent IBM mainframe ads, also to be found on youtube, tip James  VW has had a lot of fun with parody in with the launch of the new GTI. 

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3 thoughts on “SAP’s secret language (no not ABAP)”

  1. That is hilarious! Being a half-Swiss bizdev guy, I make calls into the country and think I am tripping up on my messaging, but am actually spot-on with all the English adoption…
    Oh, and I speak a dialect that is very farmer-oriented, which makes my friends very proud!

  2. “Sie sprechen Deutsch wie ein besoffener Bauer”. This is so funny 🙂

    The area around Hannover is seen to be the only part of Germany without a dialect. From an aspect of learning the German language this is a good region.

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