Saturday, December 19, 2009


I returned home to find the usual pile of spam on my doorstep. Not email spam, which is usually filtered to invisibility, or else can be deleted and forgotten - vintage spam, sheets of glossy, colorful paper trying to instill a consuming desire for something I wasn't even considering before. One of them was an ad for Hooters, "the" American restaurant. I thought we had more than one, but I must have been mistaken. "The" Hooters must be very large (the restaurant, I mean), and parking must be a nightmare. The author could assume the Austrians mistranslated "the", but then, they are the grand masters of the definite article, seamlessly matching their every "the" to the gender, the perceived formality, and the number of the associated noun. Notice how the preceding sentence had "the" ten times, and the reader never got confused about which noun each one matched? Two years after first blogmocking this linguistic tailbone, I remain convinced it doesn't help clarify anything, and will eventually become vestigial, just like Englishspeakers learned not to care about whether the listener was formal or informal. Frailty, thy name is waste.

Homey Clemens told me the Austrians innovated their own dialect with fewer articles. Good! Make the Germans use them too. It will be tough; there are 10 times more of them. But the Austrians have surprise.

Back to thinking about hooters. I mean, the ad for Hooters. So, Hooters is "the" American restaurant. We don't have any others. Nice, then, that they seem to have copied it well. The glossy ad is almost indistinguishable from an ad for the American Hooters. Except they have a "kids eat free" day. Hm. I thought the Dutch were much more liberal with kids and sex, but the Austrians relatively conservative. Americans don't really think of Hooters as a kids' restaurant. (And since we have no other restaurants, kids cannot dine out until they hit 18.) Do you want your daughter inspired by Hooters waitresses? On the other hand, it's the only restaurant in the world that selects waitresses for their baby feeding potential. Indeed, while the classic American excuse is that they're going to the Hooters for their wings, I suspect the breasts also hold some sway.

Graz Hooters flyer: front

Graz Hooters flyer: back

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