Photo Friday: Cameraphone Shot
Interview 2009. In Which the Author Almost Answers a Meme.

Pimp meinen Fahrt


Mercedes Benz Museum Thanks for nothing

His shirt reads Thanks for Nothing.

The English language continues to spill its seed across the continent, whelping curious word-creatures and bastard ideas, abandoning them to grow up as orphans in another culture. 

MTV Deutschland just might be the best place in Europe to watch my native tongue have unsafe sex, and to watch its progeny frolic.

The network is one of the few free-to-air channels which subtitles programs, rather than dubbing them.  A godsend for people like me, who speak Bozo German

Let's look at Pimp My Ride.   The American edition, of course, hosted by dem behrühmte Rapper, Xzibit

Miles ahead of the British PMR.  Last time I watched, they pimped out a Fiesta.  Unpimptacular, I'm afraid. 

Word on the street says there will never be a German version.  The dreaded TÜV, the German Technical Inspectorate of Every Damn Thing, would insist that the stereo not cause noise pollution, the skull-and-crossbones decal reflect the light of approaching cars, and the mobile pool table be upholstered in organic felt.  If they can't find anything wrong with your car, they'll improvise.

Not Very Volky Wagens

Not surprisingly, Germans are the world's consummate car snobs.   It shows in the approach to Pimp My Ride auf Deutsch. 

Rather than translate ride literally, MTV subtitlers often use the word Karre.   Thus, the show might back-translate as Pimp My Jalopy, Pimp My Heap, or Pimp my Piece of Crap.   They avoid such vocab when Xzibit pimps out a Volkswagen, I notice.

Further, locals fail to grasp the difference between tuning a car (as AMG, HSV or Tickford might) and pimping it out.

Contrary to the spirit of pimpmanship, most German customisers prefer to start at the top.  The result is always exquisite, and often achieved simply with intelligent use of standard RPOs.  Munich firm Semco gave these two Rollers a tasteful workover, and parked them in the chic Maximillianstrasse to attract attention from cashed-up summer visitors. 

Pimped Rollers

Semco suggests only subtle alterations to the standard models; perhaps a "Starlight" roof lining, exotic upholstery, or bodywork discreetly armoured.   ("Armoured" in German, by the way, is gepanzert.)


EDIT: My heart skipped a beat when I noticed this mirrored Porsche in the Bayerstrasse. (No doubt the owner had mirrored the inside, too, since owners of expensive cars are like that, right?).  Had a German motorist finally given in to the vanity of a flashy custom paint job?  Not quite.  If you embiggen the picture, you'll notice a Bahraini license plate.

The introduction of the smart, and the revival of the Mini, advanced the cause of populist pimping.  The ease with which body panels can be painted or replaced gives many the chance to make a modest personal statement.

Pimp mini front
Close, but no cigar.   This ain't a pimping.  This is a pimple.

The photo below shows the closest thing to an officially pimped-out car I've seen  in Germany.  It's Ringo Starr's 190E, at the Mercedes-Benz Museum in Stuttgart. 

Mercedes Benz Museum 092_2

(The Beatles were big fans of German cars.  John Lennon had eyesight too poor to drive very well, so he invested in extravagant limousines.   The most famous is the 1965 "Psychedelic Rolls", which to my eye looks a little more like French porcelain than Op-Art.     But his favourite remained a custom 1970 Pullmann limo, replete with turntable and one of the world's first car cassette players.)

So, it turns out that recent ads for Volkswagen in the USA, showing a German engineer sneering at custom cars, are not so far from the truth. 

MTV has a tough time finding a German word for pimping.  So they borrow the English word, and screw on German verb endings.

 For example, your car is totally pimped out! becomes Ihres Auto wird völlig ausgepimpt!

Danke dass

Thanks, MTV, that you have pimped my car.

Pimp pimp

You have been officially pimped. Pimp, pimp.

What pimping means

Well then, Mike.  I'll show you what goes by pimping. 


From time to time, they lay off  pimpen and use the verb aufmotzen, which means fluffed up.  A little too accurate, in a Freudian sense, for my taste. 

Sometimes, alas, words fail them.

Big-ass TV

That's an ogre-like far-seer.

WTF Teufel

What is that, to the devil?

So, we see a good deal of English pop up in the titles.   Is PMR auf Deutsch just a little too to eager to pounce on an English word, when a German one will do?

Maybe.  Stay tuned for Teil Zwei.

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