Ok then. The company that made my car wrote to me. And although I'm used to corporate communications, I must admit this letter made be do the whole 'look once, do a double-take, then check your tea for strong liquor' routine that you normally only see in cartoons.
The letter was sent to tell me that they'd identified a problem with my car. Would I mind awfully taking it to the nearest dealership so Jurgen and Klaus's English equivalents could do equally arcane things to it with a set of spanners? But it was this bit of the letter that threw me. See if you can see the particular phrase that did the trick:
As part of an ongoing quality analysis, it has been established that an electrical short-circuit may occur in the area of the fuel filter on your vehicle. In unfavourable situations if a short-circuit occurs when the vehicle is in motion, this may lead to a thermal incident in the vehicle when it is switched off.Whoa. Hold on a minute. Did you spot it? 'Thermal incident.' Thermal incident? Hang on a minute - what could that possibly mean? Something getting a little hot in an uncontrolled manner?
I tend to call that a 'fire'. Or, perhaps, if we'd like to be dramatic, 'explosion'.
You have to be sympathetic to the wordsmiths at the Bavarian Motor Works, though. They want drivers to take notice of these vehicle recall notices. But on the other hand, no-one's going to admit that their vehicles are all explode-y, are they? That's not the type of thing your lawyers want you to put in writing.
But if we accept this, where does it end? Here are some new phrases for the motor industry:
- Unplanned vehicular/arboreal interface - crashing into a tree
- Lack of rotational support - a wheel has fallen off
- Interior environmental supplement required - your Magic Tree needs replacing
- Sub-optimal motivational situation - won't start
- Moisture-related cessation - you have driven into a lake