Dec 11, 2008


One of my major pet peeves in German to English translation is the unfortunate tendency of some people to translate "Impressum", the term used to refer to the page where legal notices and various other company information such as company registry numbers, tax IDs, editorial responsibility or credits, and contact information is posted, as "Imprint". I challenge anyone to find me a web site created by native English speakers for a company in the English-speaking world that uses this term. Depending on the content of the page, it is usually called "Legal notice and info" or something along those lines. Translating "Impressum" as "Imprint" simply comes across as incompetence to a native speaker of English or is at best merely confusing.

Oddly enough but somehow typical, many German companies insist on adopting this travesty because so many other German (or Austrian or Swiss) companies use it. Virtual lemmings....


  1. Hi Kevin, great minds think alike. This is one of my biggest pet peeves too. I mentioned the problem in a post on Internet research back in July:

    "Verifying is probably the most important step in the process. Some web sites are poorly translated, so your term may be a false friend or an incorrect translation that has been picked up by other sites. One example is the use of Imprint for Impressum on German web site translations. An imprint is used in the publishing world, but it is completely inappropriate for web sites. This has been the subject of numerous discussions on the various listservs I belong to. Some more suitable suggestions include Credits, Legal information, Corporate Information, Legal Disclaimer, Contact Details, Contact Details/Disclaimer, About This Site or even The Boring Stuff (depending on level of informality of the site). Anything but Imprint, but I digress…"

    Why anyone would use Imprint on a site is beyond me and makes me shudder.

  2. @ Jill: Indeed they do. It drives every literate translator I know up the wall, and it makes the ones using "Imprint" look like fools. I try very hard to help my clients not look stupid, but in such cases... oh well. I just document the issue (and archive the information in a manner compliant with auditing standards) and move on.
    So the FBI wouldn't let you use the Internet? It figures. They always were paranoid. I had a lot of respect for the competence and integrity of one agent I used to deal with, but his superiors were hopeless, and even fresh out of college I was shocked by the low standards they accepted for some of their linguists. I could have done better in high school than one of them who once questioned me in German did.

  3. HEAR HEAR!!!

    and just in case that wasn't clear enough:

    HEAR HEAR!!!


  4. I would have posted earlier but I was out at an action, buying a bargain shirt before having my hairs cut. But thanks for the informations.

    1. That is quite funny - however I am sure I do the same in German sometimes.

  5. You're right to be peeved. It's infuriating.

    Some reasons why this happens, plus solutions:


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