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Wednesday, April 27, 2011

Words Wednesday - Window Shopping

Window shopping (to look at goods in store windows without the intent of going into the store to buy things), is an inexpensive pastime that is enjoyed by people around the globe.  So I wondered, does everyone else call it ‘window shopping’?  It’s an idiom so it should be different in other languages right? I mean idioms are supposed to be specific to culture.  Sadly it seems that everyone but the French call it window shopping.  I like the French phrase better though, they call it - lèche vitrines (licking windows.) 

Interestingly enough, or maybe strangely enough, some languages call it – window shopping. Why? Their words for window or shopping don’t sound/look anything like English!  According to Google Translate the word in Dutch for shopping is winkelen and for window it is venster.   But if you put window shopping together it translates it as not venster winkelen but  - window shopping.  In Danish it is vindue shopping. For those who are dying to know in Turkish it is - pencere alışveriş (window shopping.)  Too bad Tarkan doesn't have a song that talks about window shopping. . . I guess I will have to muddle through the pronunciation without him.

The first recorded occurrence of ‘window shopping’ was in 1922 (according to the Online Etymology Dictionary.)  Too bad it doesn’t list the origin.  It would be interesting to see if it started in one place and spread from there.  Like a World's Fair where there would be a lot of people from different countries, but there doesn’t seem to be one in 1922. There were two in 1915, one in San Francisco & another in San Diego but that seems like it would have been too big of a gap in time.

A company in Germany is trying to get us not only to window shop but  to window buy as well with their new technology that will allow you to shop without going into the store by pointing at items in the window. 

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