The Austrian Federal Railways recently translated some (more) of their automated onboard announcements, one of the new automated announcements now welcomes passengers at the train ("Welcome at the train to [destination]") rather than aboard or on the train – the latter propositions seem much more common in this context, but is at technically correct as well (as they claim on Twitter)?

(Related but not addressing at: "on the train" or "in the train"?)

  • I wonder whether the original phrase was "am Zug" rather than "im Zug". If you ask Google to translate "im" it gives "in the" and translating "am" gives "at the" as I would expect, however the same translation software gives "Welcome to the train" for both "Willkommen im Zug" and "Willkommen am Zug" which suggests to me that "Willkommen am Zug" is colloquial German. If someone translated "Willkommen am Zug" word for word they would get "Welcome at the train" even though it sounds odd to native speakers and Google translates the whole sentence colloquially. – BoldBen Mar 4 '19 at 12:41
  • @BoldBen It was "im Zug". Wouldn't "am" normally be translated as "on"? Word-by-word, I'd translate "at the train" as "beim Zug", which wouldn't make any sense in German (except for the hypothetical platform scenario mentioned by @james) … – FDMS Mar 4 '19 at 12:49
  • Yes, but that is translating English to German word for word which also gives odd results as you say. "An" can be translated as either "at" or "on" depending on context. "An der Ecke" can be translated as both "on the corner" or "at the corner", in English we say both, perhaps Germans do not. Also "An der Rathaus" translates as "At the Town Hall" and "On the Town Hall" wouldn't make much sense unless you were talking about workmen, flags or architectural features. The problem is that translation is very rarely a one-to-one relationship. – BoldBen Mar 4 '19 at 13:10
  • English announcements on trains in German-speaking countries are an excellent source of amusement, blog posts, and ELU questions. – painfulenglish Mar 4 '19 at 18:49

It's wrong, and certainly not what any train in England or America says. One could "welcome someone at the train", but it would mean one was at the station, ready to meet the person as they arrived on the train (or the other way around). That act would would be welcoming someone at the train. However one would say "Welcome to {station name}", or "welcome to the train" when meeting the person.

I note Austrian airlines uses "welcome you aboard".

Having said that here in England the announcements on the trains tend to be fairly odd. Rather than saying "The next stop on this service is London", they'll say "The next station-stop is London" (presumably in an attempt to distinguish from other sorts of stops, eg, at signals and stations at which the train doesn't stop). We also used to have a train company called "One" so you'd hear announcements like "The 7:30 one service to London will depart from platform 3" which sounds like "The 7:31 service to London...".

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