Greenwood Encyclopedia of African American Literature

Saturday, October 13, 2007

Hotelingua

Here's a poem that's kind of a collage of language I've read or heard at various hotels. The last line is a direct borrowing from a printed note in an Italian hotel, wherein an "a" was replaced by a "u," thereby making the note truly charming. Mistranslations can break your heart.

Obviously, hotels are commercial enterprises, but they have to pretend, at least superficially, that you are a "guest," as opposed to a customer or a catch, as in a netted fish. So hotel-language seems to be forced to walk a fine polite line. Some hotels are better at it than others, and maybe the ones that aren't very good at it are preferable.

Hotel-Texts


Good Evening. We
are enjoying your stay. We
have refreshed your reservations
and prepared further assistance.
Please feel free. Call Housekeeping
fore and aft your convenience. Touch
Six for in-room whining. Our
turn-down service is renowned.
We have provided tomorrow’s weather.
Have a pleasant chance of showers.
(Probabilidad de Chaparrones.) High
forty, low thirty, middle class. Please
let us know of any further enjoyment we
may provide your billing options. We
control the settings from the central desk.
We ask on time that you check out.
We are suddened by your departure.


Copyright 2007 Hans Ostrom
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