Sunday, September 16, 2012

Lost in Google Translation


I recently got a piece of mail returned to me through the German postal service.  There was a stamp with an explanation of why it had been returned, but I didn’t exactly understand it.  Naturally the returned letter was my health insurance documentation that I had submitted for reimbursement, so I was more than a little peeved about it.  In situations when I don’t know a word here, I often first turn to the Google Translate app on my phone.  I carefully typed in the word on the stamp that I didn’t know and waited for my 3G service to call up the answer. 

The stamp said: “Annahme verweigert wegen Nachrufgeld.”

I didn’t know the word “Nachrufgeld.” 

Google Translate told me that it means: Obituary Money. 

Wait, WHAT?  My health insurance company returned a letter to me because of obituary money???  Do they think I’m dead?  Holy mother of Whuck!  What am I supposed to do now? 

Lucky for me, I have several REAL Germans on call for such matters.  My friend CW (of Bremen Fame) helped me out in this case.  He explained that it meant that the letter was refused for insufficient postage, and that the recipient had refused to pay the difference.  Now that was interesting.

Does this happen in the US?  I don’t remember anymore.  Isn’t that funny?  I don’t remember. 

Regardless, the message is this: Google Translate is a useful tool, SOMETIMES but definitely not ALWAYS. 

Countdown 17 Days until re-entry. 

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