The Importance of "Community" FAIL

Rarely do I get embarrassed, but it happened today. The previous time was in a restaurant in Brooklyn where we were ordering wine and I said “I’ll drink anything, but I’m not drinking the f**king Merlot”. It’s a line from the movie Sideways, and while I didn’t realize who he was at the time, I was sitting next to Paul Giamatti, the actor who spoke the line. True story. I turned so red.

Anyway, at the request of Stefano Heisig we are starting up a German language OpenNMS mailing list on Sourceforge called opennms-deutschland. I figured I’d ask Alex Finger to join Stefano as admins and with both of them on board I went, added the list, and then I needed to set a password.

I decided to choose “gemeinschaft” as the password, since the Internet assured me it meant “community” in German. Being culturally sensitive, I tested it forward and backward, and it always came out as “community”.

I sent it to Alex and Stefano and Alex writes back:

omg you’re sooo bad 😉

I’m thinking “what?!? What did I get wrong? Doesn’t ‘gemeinschaft’ mean community?”

He sent me to the Wikipedia article for “volksgemeinschaft” which translates to “people’s community”. Unfortunately, it was a term used heavily as propaganda by the Nazis (I’ll leave any open source/fauxpen source comparisons to the reader). I was mortified, but I am thankful Alex wasn’t offended. I hope Stefano wasn’t either.

I changed the password.

I hope that story doesn’t take away from the fact that we now have an OpenNMS mailing list dedicated to discussing the project in German. I’ll be following along the best I can, and I hope it proves useful.

2 thoughts on “The Importance of "Community" FAIL

  1. Hi, I am German, and I would say:

    “Gemeinschaft” is to “Volksgemeinschaft” as “Germany” ist to “Nazi Germany”

    You can convert almost any word into a nazi word, if you prepend it with “Volks”. The only exception is Volkswagen of course. But Gemeinschaft is a perfect translation for community. IMHO.

  2. @jhein: This may have been a case of my friend Alex having fun with me. Thanks for the clarification. Alex was born and raised in Germany, works in Switzerland and he lives in France, so perhaps he gets confused. (grin)


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