Spotlights on Germany and Europe

Climate Change Beyond Copenhagen – Monday Night at Brandeis

October 19th, 2009 · No Comments

Tonight at 7 p.m. in International Lounge in Usdan in Brandeis.

More than 15,000 officials representing 192 governments will attend the 15th Conference of the Parties (COP) under the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) in Copenhagen December 7-18, 2009 in the hope to sign a new agreement on a worldwide reduction of CO² emissions.

Many are skeptical that an agreement is even realistic. But even if Kopenhagen succeeds to produce a Kyoto-Follow-Up Agreement: What do the signatories actually have to do to fulfill its obligations? At the current rate, the US, still the highest polluter with 19 tons of CO² per year, would have to reduce its carbon emissions to zero within six years. The participants in this workshop will explain what is at stake in Kopenhagen, and how an agreement would change the global order.

Prof. Claus Leggewie
Director, Institute for Advanced Study in the Humanities, Essen, Germany (KWI)
Professor for Political Science at Justus-Liebig-University Gießen, Germany
Member of the German Advisory Council on Global Change to the Federal Government, (WBGU)

Moritz Hartmann
Institute for Advanced Study in the Humanities, Essen, Germany
European University Institute, Florence, Italy

(also see his blog posts )

Bernd Sommer
Research Fellow, Institute for Advanced Study in the Humanities, Essen, Germany
Research Analyst, German Advisory Council on Global Change to the Federal Government

(and his blog posts)

Charles C. Chester
Lecturer in Environmental Studies at Brandeis University. Author of Conservation Across Borders: Biodiversity in an Interdependent World (Island Press 2006). He teaches the courses International Environmental Conflict and Collaboration at Brandeis University and International Biodiversity Conservation at The Fletcher School of Tufts University.

Refreshments will be served.

For more information, please visit and

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Lost in Translation: German Companies Advertising in English

October 19th, 2009 · No Comments

On a visit to Germany, you would sometimes be forgiven for thinking that German is dying out. Many German companies use English in their advertising to appeal to younger consumers. But there’s a catch.  Der Spiegel recently reported on the third edition of a study which proves that these companies may not be getting their message across.

Bernd Samland from the German company Endmark has funded a study for the third time that demonstrates that many Germans don’t understand English in advertising. According to the article, even some German companies can’t offer proper translations of their slogans.

Der Spiegel also created a slideshow of some of the most egregious examples.  So for example, some Germans understood Youtube’s “Broadcast Yourself” as  “Brotkasten” or “Breadbox yourself”.  The chocolate company Magnum‘s slogan “World’s Pleasure Authority” was understood by some as “For an Authoritarian World”. And Levi’s “Live Unbuttoned” became “Life without Buttons”

Perhaps companies should stick to English in Germany.

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Germany and Unlikely Nobel Winners

October 19th, 2009 · No Comments

In selecting  Herta Müller for the 2009 Nobel Prize for Literature, the Nobel Committee chose someone many Americans had not heard of.  The New York Times found that many New York booksellers were caught unprepared as they hoped to set up displays for the Nobel Prize Winner.  So who is Herta Müller? According to the Nobel website, while shaped by German heritage, like so many, her writing expresses her emotions about her absence from Germany.

“Her parents were members of the German-speaking minority in Romania. Her father had served in the Waffen SS during World War II. Many German Romanians were deported to the Soviet Union in 1945, including Müller’s mother who spent five years in a work camp in present-day Ukraine. Many years later, in Atemschaukel (2009), Müller was to depict the exile of the German Romanians in the Soviet Union.

The German network Das Erste conducted an interview with Herta Müller.

Meanwhile, President Barack Obama’s surprise win evoked another precedent for the Nobel Committee. In an interview with the New York Times Thorbjorn Jagland, chair of the Nobel panel, brought up the comparison with German chancellor getting the Nobel Prize in in 1971:

“He likened this year’s award to the one in 1971, which recognized Willy Brandt, the chancellor of West Germany, and his “Ostpolitik” policy of reconciliation with Communist Eastern Europe.

“Brandt hadn’t achieved much when he got the prize, but a process had started that ended with the fall of the Berlin Wall,” Mr. Jagland said.”

One famous symbolic gesture of Brandt, a social democrat, was his “Kniefall von Warschau”, the Warsaw Genuflection, where the chancellor knelt in front of the Warsaw Ghetto where the uprising against the Nazi power had taken place, in an effort to thaw relations with Poland and the Eastern bloc. Obama himself made reference to the successful conclusion of this process in his speech in Berlin last summer.

For more on this, and to practice your German, check out this clip from the  well-known German documentary series 100 Jahre – Der Countdown.

A film clip about Brandt’s meaningful visit to Warsaw is here.

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