Tuesday, June 29, 2010

Translation notes: Vorstand

Vorstand is an interesting word. Look it up, and you will almost always read that it is the board of executives, or something to that extent. The Vorstandsvorsitzender is the chairman of that board, more commonly referred to in English as the CEO.

But bizarrely, German tends to use Vorstand for the chairman, not for the entire board. I recently came across this at Wacker, a major German manufacturer of solar silicon. They present their CEO in German under "Vorstand" here and in English under "Executive Board" here. One man does not a board make, however.

A few years back, a new customer sent me a text late on Friday which she had to have back on Sunday. I did her the favor, and when she saw that I had translated Vorstand as "Board Chairman," she gave me a real shelling (she wanted CEO), even calling me incompetent. Needless to say, she didn't thank me for doing the text at no extra charge over the weekend.

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