Stone Service

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I'm in Portorož, Slovenia, for LREC2016; and so far the most interesting linguistic aspect of the place is the sometimes-surprising mixture of languages on signs. For example:

The longer explanation of the side of the van is in Slovenian — Restavriranje, brušenje, čiščenje in impregnacije naravnega kamna = "Restoration, grinding, cleaning and impregnation of natural stone". But the short version is in English: STONE SERVICE.

Skosal seems to be a Slovenian company,  and I'm not aware that sawing up pavement — which is what Skosal's workers were doing — is a characteristically British or American domain of activity. For that matter, it's not clear that "Stone Service" is what a British or American company would call this kind of work.

Maybe some readers can explain the motivation behind this particular signage code-switching, or the general framework that it lives in.



  1. TONY THORNE said,

    May 23, 2016 @ 6:15 am

    Slovenes, particularly in the coastal region between Italy and Croatia, are – have to be – multilingual, and standards of English, relating to media and popular culture as well as to tourism, are extremely high. They very often use English in slogans, captions, trademarks, etc. though of course most lack the 'native speaker intuition' that allows them to judge when collocations work and where cultural allusions are successful or not. 'Stone Service' is perhaps unprecedented, has multiple connotations but seems a reasonable attempt to sum up what they are doing: I have advised Slovenes on trademark issues and might have suggested 'Stonework Services' or Stone Servicing' or even (sorry) 'Stonework Solutions'.

  2. Elisabeth Elliott said,

    May 23, 2016 @ 6:18 am

    In at least some parts of Europe it seems that using English in advertising, company names, for business, etc. is definitely on the rise. The motivations, to me at least, are unclear, that is, I'm not aware of any studies on this. Perhaps it has a coolness factor, making products and businesses seem "with it" and on the cutting edge, because they are using the global lingua franca, English. This is my own opinion and again I do not have any studies to back this up. I can say that there is much English being used in consumer products, ads, company's names or slogans, etc. in Germany, Bulgaria, and Macedonia, as I have personally observed. The phenomenon in Germany has been going on longer and is to the point that the English is often mixed with German which is commonly referred to as Denglisch (Deutsch or German plus English), and example is the verb "shoppen" used to mean "to go/to be shopping". German would use the verb "einkaufen", but it's now very common to say "shoppen" instead. There's a short piece on this from The Economist from June 29th 2013 here: And other short piece perhaps of interest from Der Spiegel online and in English here:

  3. Victor Mair said,

    May 23, 2016 @ 6:20 am

    This seems to be different from stonework, stonemasonry, or stonecraft, which has to do with the actual construction of things made of stone, whereas the "stone service" they offer has to do with the refurbishing of things made of stone.

    I'm intrigued by what they do when they impregnate stone (perhaps it refers to infiltrating stone with chemicals, colors, minerals, etc. to renew, stabilize, or solidify it).

  4. Rod Johnson said,

    May 23, 2016 @ 7:37 am

    Here is a company that sells products for "stone care," which seems like a near-synonym for "stone service." Impregnation involves using products (like sealers or pigments) that penetrate the stone.

  5. Coby Lubliner said,

    May 23, 2016 @ 9:05 am

    The use of "service" reminds me of the Japanese term for a Western-style breakfast: mōningu sābisu ("morning service").

  6. Jonathan said,

    May 23, 2016 @ 10:23 am

    If someone said "morning service" to me (an American) I would 100% assume they were referring to going to church (or temple).

  7. cliff arroyo said,

    May 23, 2016 @ 10:38 am

    "In at least some parts of Europe it seems that using English in advertising, company names, for business, etc. is definitely on the rise. The motivations, to me at least, are unclear"

    Also in Poland. Usually the English adds nothing in terms of semantics or bringing in additional customers. My working assumption is that it's 99% simple aspirational status signalling through language.

  8. Gregory Kusnick said,

    May 23, 2016 @ 12:41 pm

    "Stone maintenance" would be an accurate summary of this company's services.

  9. Rebecca Robinson said,

    May 23, 2016 @ 1:00 pm

    SWINE, new fragrance, new woman.
    (on using English in Spanish advertising)

  10. bratschegirl said,

    May 23, 2016 @ 3:02 pm

    I'd assume "impregnation" refers to what I'm accustomed to hearing called "sealing," which has to be done periodically to granite kitchen/bathroom countertops. It involves spreading a liquid over the surface, allowing it to sink in, and then wiping off the remainder, in order to prevent spills from staining the stone. And FWIW, that's exactly what I would have assumed a company offering "stone service" might do, unidiomatic though it may be.

  11. ohwilleke said,

    May 23, 2016 @ 5:16 pm

    How different is this from calling a restaurant "Cafe Parisian". Or having an "Otaku Manga" (obsessive Japanese-style comic book fan) convention. Or to mix Greek and Japanese to have a "Mangaka Symposium" (manga writers panel). Or "Namaste Lorry" for a traveling yoga studio. I'm sure readers could come up with better examples than mine.

    A few short words in what is basically a proper name to give color isn't unusual.

  12. David Weman said,

    May 23, 2016 @ 5:44 pm

    Small businesses do this in most countries I would imagine. There's a perceived coolness factor, though not necessarily something that genuinly impresses customers.

    Multinational companies use English to establish an international brand. Small businesses use English a bit more haphazardly to feel more big time and maybe in cases like this one because it seems more official and authorative.

  13. AntC said,

    May 23, 2016 @ 6:46 pm

    L.A.: — plural "premier stone restoration company"
    U.K. — benchtops, per @bratschegirl

    But other Ghits for 'Stone Service/s' are either to do with gemstones, or service companies named "Stone" (proprietor).

    And yes, @TONY, 'Stone Solutions' are everywhere.

  14. Bob Ladd said,

    May 24, 2016 @ 3:17 am

    There's definitely a coolness factor involved here. English is trendy in Europe, more so in some places than in others. It seems pretty extreme in Italian, where even government is involved (the recent reform of the labour market was called the "Jobs Act", for example), but to one extent or another it seems to affect all of non-Anglophone Europe, and shops and small businesses often have English names or slogans. Of course, ohwilleke is right that Anglophone businesses sometimes do similar things, but mostly only if the foreign language is somehow relevant to the business (like "Café Parisien").

  15. Boursin said,

    May 24, 2016 @ 1:33 pm

    Here in Finland, kivipalvelu 'stone service' is a common compound noun, and I can very easily imagine an enterprising one trying for a touch of class by translating it into English.

    But – for the vast majority of the businesses calling themselves a kivipalvelu it means a service supplying tombstones (hautakivi)! Besides this, however, Googling also reveals ones involved in jewellery (jalokivi 'precious stone'), stonemasonry (kivityö 'stone work') and, yes, stone servicing.

  16. Charles Antaki said,

    May 24, 2016 @ 4:38 pm

    Thank you Rebecca Robinson for the link to the Real Academia Española's video campaign to discourage the use of English loan words.

    The idea is to shows ads for products which are obviously ludicrous (a perfume called Swine, sunglasses though which you can't see) but have English names. The Spanish speaker is made to look a fool for failing for them.

    But the idea is still-born; English words are used precisely because the needs they fulfil are exactly not ludicrous. It's just that the Academia doesn't approve of them.

  17. PB said,

    May 24, 2016 @ 5:34 pm

    I agree with Elisabeth Elliott's and Bob Ladd's comments on the widespread use of English in European company names, advertising, consumer products etc. Here in Switzerland, I wouldn't at all be surprised by a "Stone Service" company. For example, looking into my cleaning cupboard, I see a glass cleaner named "Super Clean", another cleaning product promising "Turbo Power", gloves with a very large "MULTI USE" (plus "quality product") lettering on the package…

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