Thursday, June 07, 2007

Lost in Translation, UK Edition

by B. Strong

One of the truisms is that the UK is a class society and the US is not. Like many truisms, this one turns out to be true only under certain definitions of the key terms, in this case "class society." E.g., intergenerational class inheritance and mobility chances are about the same in the US and UK, for all the US's cultural rhetoric about being a classless society, Horatio Alger, blah blah, meritocracy, blah blah, American Dream, blah blah.

There are, however, some ways in which the relative class-ness of the UK becomes quite apparent. Consider, for example, this description of the Honda Accord wagon from Yahoo UK's car site: (Yes, we're back to car talk.)
Without a diesel, you're without a prayer when it comes to shifting volumes in the profitable compact prestige estate sector.

"Prestige estate sector?" Using "prestige" and "estate" in the same sentence, even to describe a market segment, would be PR death in the US.

Other lost-in-translation moments from the same article:
The sprint to 60mph will detain you for just 9.2 seconds in the saloon...[ED: not kph?]
and
However, given disparaging remarks made by Honda executives over the years about cars able to drink from the black pump, it was tempting to expect their first foray into diesel territory as little more than a sop to convention.

and, of course, references to what's under the bonnet.

I'd be more inclined to read articles about cars if they all talked about saloons, drinking from black pumps, and sops to convention.

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Comments:
Re 0-60 MPH, the UK is inconsistenly metricized -- note in the article the MPG quotes (vs the continental liters per 100 km). In fact, the MPG are so high in part because the G are 4.55-liter Imperial gallons.
 
"prestige estate sector" refers to more expensive station wagon sales. A station wagon is called an estate wagon and in this case they've dropped the understood "wagon".
 
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