By Michael Hooper
“Aus dem Nähkästchen plaudern” is a German idiom that literally translates to “Chatting out of the sewing box” and basically means sharing secrets – or more bluntly, gossiping.
In this mini-series, I will share some episodes from my nearly 30-years of experience working as the managing director of Text International, a Berlin-based copywriting agency and language services provider that opened in 1987.
Back in the early 1990s, when I was just getting started with the company, we had an assignment from a Munich-based ad agency that was working for a well-known Austrian ski manufacturer. For lack of better ideas, the creative team decided to use a series of German idioms as headlines and apply them to the exhilaration of skiing on a challenging slope with good equipment.
The headline for one of the ads was “Nimm den Nagel und hau ihn auf den Kopf” (literally: “take the nail and hit it on the head”). The idea of hitting a nail on the head is basically the same in English. But our assignment was to translate – or transcreate – this information into several other languages, including French, Italian, Finnish, Norwegian, etc. This was especially problematic because some of the visuals included images, for example in this case, a nail.