Qur’anic double entendre

July 24, 2012 • 11:38 am

Alert reader Natalie spotted this German ad for free Qur’ans in her local falafel joint in Berlin, and found it on the diewahrereligion.tv/hausdesquarns “Haus des Qurans” site (the URL means “the true religion/house of Qur’ans”):

I read German, and the ad really says, “The noble Qur’an in German.  Get it for free.  READ IT! [JAC: “Lies”, pronounced “lease,” is the imperative of “lesen,”: “to read”.] In the name of your God, who has created you.”

You can also purchase an attractive stand for displaying the sacred text:

I think the “Lies!” command may have been ill-advised.  As Natalie wrote:

Of course, the Islamists who came up with this big publicity campaign are situated in Cologne. Berlin is crawling with English speakers, who will laugh their heads off. Well, who are we to argue with them? They really need no more help from us!

I can haz fatwa now?

84 thoughts on “Qur’anic double entendre

    1. Cluefulness?

      How’s your German?

      As Jerry pointed out, this is perfect German.
      Nothing wrong with it.
      Where is the perceived cluelessness in this (regardless of faith-version)?
      What you call a lack of cluefulness appears to be a case of ignorance on your part.

      1. What is wrong is not paying attention to what it will look like to the many English speaking Germans.

        Thanks for your comment about me being ignorant. It turns out, though, that I am fluent in the main language of this blog website and am perfectly aware of the translation.

        1. Well, if you’re indeed perfectly aware of the translation, I have to withdraw my ‘ignorant’ remark (which, btw, referred to your knowledge of German, NOT to the main language of this website) and replace it with ‘arrogant’.

          I’m fluent in Dutch: do you really think I should pay attention to people who speak English (or any other language of course) when I write something in Dutch in the Netherlands, so as to make sure none of my Dutch words mean something unintended in some other language, lest I be called ‘clueless’?


          1. Feeling like a jerk today?

            Did you see the end of the main post? I was agreeing with what had been noted by Natalie and quoted by our host.

            Talk about arrogant!

          2. “Well, if you’re indeed perfectly aware of the translation, I have to withdraw my ‘ignorant’ remark (which, btw, referred to your knowledge of German, NOT to the main language of this website)”
            The relevant information regarding German was posted on this website, in English. Thus, you are implicitly accusing him of ignorance of English.

            “I’m fluent in Dutch: do you really think I should pay attention to people who speak English (or any other language of course) when I write something in Dutch in the Netherlands, so as to make sure none of my Dutch words mean something unintended in some other language, lest I be called ‘clueless’?”
            Perhaps “clueless” is a bit harsh, but clearly it would be wise, when writing for the general public, to take into consideration English meanings.

      1. How on earth would they translate that immortal episode “Cape Feare” when Sideshow Bob sings HMS Pinafore? 😉

    1. Don’t think so. Just like: ‘der gute Man’ from ‘gut’ + ending, so ‘der edle Man’ from ‘edel’ + ending and avoid two schwa, so ‘der edle Quran’.

  1. It should be mentioned that the people responsible for this Quran campaign are militant Salafi Muslims, who are a menace to society. Salafism is a seed of terrorism.

    1. I can not find much evidence to disagree with your statement. Do you think therefore we should be cautious rather than enjoy an opportunity for ridicule where it presents itself? It is a real question. Then again, did you see their t-shirt? Irresistible.

    2. The mere fact that they are using the imperative in presenting their desire that you participate in their religion suggests they are a menace to society.

      1. using the imperative … suggests they are a menace to society.

        I’ll bear that in mind as I walk past two different Protestant (I’d have to check ; I *think*) churches on my way to the office.
        Come to think of it, there are probably a number of advertising signs in various other businesses on the same route that indicate menace to society from other sources. There’s a worrisome photocopy shop where I change buses.
        Yes, I do consider “advertising” in general to be threatening. Targeted psychological warfare aimed at changing my (and other people’s) behaviour : definitely dangerous.
        Can I haz battle-axe and mace? Visit to School of Advertizing feelz imperative!

        1. If there were a history of Coco-cola employees killing people for drinking Pepsi, you would have more of a point. When someone goes around demanding adherence to their religion, in a context of people being killed for failing to adhere to that religion, that does have a terrorist color to it.

    1. Or the Ford Pinto. From the Brazilian Wikipedia: “Pinto é uma gíria popular no Brasil, para descrever o órgão sexual masculino, usada inclusive como termo infantil, pueril”

      And then there is the Mitsubishi Pajero which was sold as Montero in countries with a non-negligible Hispanic population. 😀

      1. The Mitsubishi Wanker? Yeah, that fits (sometimes)… I shall treasure it next time one cuts me off… 😉

        Question is, does ‘pajero’ have any real meaning in any other language than spanish?
        Or was it just one of those meaningless names that turned out to actually have one…

      1. I’m guessing, based on my negligible German, but knowledge of Afrikaans, that is is something to do with manure 🙂

          1. Damn, hadn’t finished. WP (or is it me?) tends to go off prematurely.

            A quick Google suggests ‘mist’ means also colloquially ‘rubbish’, so I suppose the more accurate translation would be ‘silver crap’?
            (I confess I know zero German).

              1. “Crap”, indeed.

                A brand of Swedish “toilet tissue”, I think.
                Returning to cars … imagine how the Triumph Acclaim model went down in Germany (“Seig Heil!”)
                There are (probably) websites full of examples of this sort of thing.

      1. It doesn’t “translate” to that; that doesn’t make sense. The characters used to approximate the sound of “Coca-Cola” meant that.

      1. My favourite is the Ticino Regional transport (Ferrovie Autolinee Regionali Ticinesi) which has its initials in big italic chrome letters on the side of its trains. Or did in 1991.

        Possibly even better was the Furka Oberalp railway which had little red enines with the initials in giant white block capitals on the side…

  2. Reminds me of the time the Canadian Conservatives decided to rename their Party the “Conservative Reform Alliance Party”. I think it was several days before anyone realized that the result was the CRAP. They quickly changed the name again. Again, unconscious truth in advertising—.

    1. Not quite, it seems:

      “In 2000, following the second of the two United Alternative conventions, the party voted to dissolve in favour of a new party: the “Canadian Conservative Reform Alliance”, a declaration of policy and a new constitution. …

      Media covering the convention quickly pointed out that if one added the word “Party” to the end of the party’s name, the resulting initials were “CCRAP”[1] (humorously pronounced “see-crap” or just “crap”) even though it, like the Bloc Québécois, didn’t actually have the word party in its name. One day later, the party changed its official name to the Canadian Reform Conservative Alliance,[1].”

      Roly-poly ccrap!

    2. Martin Gardner in an essay an various versions (strong vs. weak) of the “anthropic principle” labeled the last one he mentioned the “Completely Ridiculous Anthropic Principle”.

      A Unitarian church in Kensington, CA named themselves the “First Unitarian Church of Berkeley” to avoid the obvious acronym problem. For some reason the Unitarian church in Kent, Ohio never worried about this.

      1. Ah yes, Berkeley. Early 1965, as the free speech movement (FSM) made way for the Filthy Speech Movement, a play was produced with the title: For Unlawful Carnal Knowledge, with the capitals on the printed copy in large type… I’m trying to remember the author’s name … Gerry someone….

  3. There is still one mistake in the Poster! In ‘auf Deutsch’, Deutsch needs to be capitalized. It’s a difficult language, even for those enlightened by Islam…

    1. I get the impression that this is done on purpose. If you dare to look at the original website, you find the following at the top of each page:

      “… Im Namen deines Herrn, Der dich erschaffen hat”

      “Der” should not be written with capital d. But it is done, presumably to show who’s boss. Sorry, Who’s Boss.

      Same with writing “deutsch” where it should be capitalized. Again, it is to show us who isn’t boss. It’s so subtle…

  4. Jerry didn’t mention that the attractive stand was particularly designed as an “Information Stand for Universities”. That’ll go down well in universities across Germany, don’t you think? Wow.

    1. German is one of the important “technical” languages from the PoV of native English speakers. It’s particularly important for people involved with Chemistry and Physics (my father’s HND in Chemistry while he was an apprentice at work, included a course unit in “technical, chemical German”. He knows his German grammar and orthography is terrible, but he could work out a synthesis or a structure from the original paper).
      Latin holds a similar place : as a geologist (with obligatory palaeontology), I’ve picked up a thick smattering of Latin vocabulary, and a thin smattering of Latin grammar, simply by reading the text books. The same old word roots and structures keep on recurring. I won’t claim to speak Latin, but I can make a half-decent stab at reading it. Same with Greek. Same with Russian, because so much Russian vocabulary is lifted from Greek, Latin, French, German and English, admittedly with a change of script too. But once you can phonetically handle the script, you can often work out where the word fragments came from.
      Also, German is a common “Modern Language” anyway. I wouldn’t be at all surprised if Jerry just did German at school (when I went to Uni, one was required to have a formal qualification in at least one language other than your native tongue ; I wouldn’t be surprised if that were the case in Jerry’s undergraduate years too, because we’re not too different in age).
      Or maybe, Jerry is a secret polyglot. So that he can speak to the foreign Kittehs in their own languages, of courze!
      And … sitting on the shelf in the hallway, so I can take it to read on the bus … a Swahili vocabulary. And why not?

      1. Just to put this fevered speculation to rest, I first learned German in Heidelberg, where I attended Heidelberg American High school as the son of an Army officer. The only language offered was German, and I took two years of that. I continued that for two years in an American high school, and then in college for two years after that (language proficiency was required at both my college and to qualify for a Ph.D. at Harvard). Sadly, I haven’t been able to use my German often (where could I do so?), and so it has become rusty. I’ll practice this fall in Österreich.

        1. Ah, as usual a different route to what was expected. I’d forgotten about the number of US military formerly based in Germany.

    1. “Lesen Sie” is the formal imperative. (corresponds to “Sie”)

      “Lies” is the informal imperative. (corresponds to “du”)

      Aren’t we lucky they weren’t being formal. Would have ruined a hell of a joke!

        1. No, the 2nd person plural imperative of the verb “lesen” (“to read”) is “lest”. That is, if there is one person with whom you are on first-name terms, you would say “Lies dieses Buch!” (“Read this book!”); but if there is more than one person with whom you are on first-name terms, you would say “Lest dieses Buch!” (again “Read this book!”). You would say “Lesen Sie dieses Buch!” (again “Read this book!”) only to people with whom you are not on first-name terms.

        1. JonLynnHarvey, trust us. “Lies.” is a perfectly valid sentence in German grammar. The tone of it depends on the situation. In general, such direct commands would have a tendency not to sound very friendly though.

          1. Извенит!
            (I don’t know if WP can handle Cyrillic. “Izvenite!”, Russian imperative 2nd person (sing. or pl.?, I forget!) for “I apologize!” (IIRC ; I rarely use Russian.)
            Doesn’t sound very friendly, to an Anglophone ear. But that impression is wrong.

  5. For some reason I read it as “Lies in the name of your god” then I thought “hang on, this is German, that’s ‘Read it in the name of your god'”. I’ll agree that either interpretation is correct.

  6. “I speak Spanish to God, Italian to women, French to men, and German to my horse.”

    Charles V, Holy Roman Emperor

    1. “I speak Spanish to God, Italian to women, French to men, and German to my horse.”

      The horse was probably not Senator Incitatus then?

  7. As for bloody political correctness, why do so many English-speaking people now write “Qur’an” rather than simply “Quran” or “Koran”, the latter of which is perfectly acceptable not only in German but also in English? Another example: Until the 90s everybody in Germany called the Muslims “Moslems”. But now this word has become virtually extinct in the German media. The new word is “Muslime” (sing. “Muslim”, like in English).

    1. What does political correctness have to do with it?

      Languages change. Words change. Two hundred years ago Tom Jefferson and his generation used the variation “Musselman”.

      Try booking a ticket to Peking sometime.

  8. Hello everyone,

    probably no one will see this anymore, but I couldn’t keep it from you nevertheless.

    How could these devout muslims just not know the embarrassment they’re causing themselves? Keeping in mind that they are based in Germany, where English is compulsory in school. Clearly, they ought to be exposed to another kind of literature than the one they’re propagating:


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