Philip Newton (pne) wrote,
Philip Newton

  • Mood:

Don’t worry, sir; your documents are safe now.

This morning on the way to work, I saw a van belonging to a document shredding service; through the open door, I could see the company’s mission statement that was hanging on the inside wall.

Now leaving aside the humour in posting the mission statement inside the company van (do they really think that placing it in view of the employee every day will make that much of a difference?), I was amused to read what it said: the core bit that I remember was along the lines of “wir geben unseren Kunden die beruhigende Gewissheit beispielloser Sicherheit ihrer wertvollen Dokumente” (roughly “we give our customers the comforting sureness that comes from unmatched security of their valuable documents”).

Now, usually when you talk about the security of documents, you think about keeping them intact (e.g. safe from fire or theft)—quite the opposite of what you get by shredding them!

This use of “security” to refer to 100% intactness on the one hand (so that the company can refer to them at any time) and to (ideally) 0% intactness on the other (so that no competitors can refer to them) amused me.

Incidentally, I wonder where the translation in the van came from; I’m fairly sure that it was "Shred-It", but on their website, they render their mission as “Shred-it bietet seinen Kunden Geborgenheit, indem mit beispielloser Sicherheit ihre vertraulichen und wichtigen Informationen geschützt werden.” I’m almost certain the version I read talked about “beruhigende Gewissheit beispielloser Sicherheit”, and I wonder where the difference comes from. FWIW, the English version from their US website is “Shred-it provides our customers peace of mind by delivering unparalleled security and service for the information they value.”

Also FWIW, I don’t particularly like the German translation on the website: for me, “Geborgenheit” is the feeling that a baby has in its mother’s arms. LEO simply translates it as “(feeling of) security”, but for me it has connotations of snuggly, peaceful warmth, which seems incongruous when referring to the state of mind of a company who is getting their documents shredded—a neutral business transaction where they may feel “peace of mind” (as the US slogan puts it) but they surely don’t feel nestled in someone’s love, do they. The “beruhigende Gewissheit” (comforting assuredness/assurance/sureness/surety) I thought I remembered from the van seems more apt.

Other German speakers may feel free to agree or disagree with my assessment of “Geborgenheit”.

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