Siemens : Deutsche marks

German-style quotation marks add an element of quirkiness but will English-speaking readers understand?

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The feature

A marketing feature on Siemens’s English-language main global website describes the German engineering giant’s ‘Railigent’ service, a digital monitoring system that aggregates and analyses railway data.

The feature, ‘Intelligent transformation of rail data’, which is signposted from the home page, has a quotation from a customer signposted by one set of large quotation marks. The quote marks are back-to-front, in the German style.

The takeaway

The Siemens feature is well-designed for the web, with interesting images, readable fonts, embedded video and other welcoming elements to help customers engage with the material; and it looks good on both desktop and mobile.

The site has otherwise grammatically correct English, but the reverse quote marks are a conspicuous exception. Are they a quirky design element? A deliberate introduction of a slight German ‘accent’ to take advantage of the country’s reputation for engineering precision? Possibly, but English-speaking readers may be more likely to see them simply as an error.
First published 14 June, 2017
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