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I am planning to use the word simpel in my technology product. I have found two contrasting definitions on the web:

  • simple, easy to use
  • stupid, dumb

What is the more popular meaning of the word? Is it more positive or negative?

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Words aren't positive or negative. People may prefer them in one context but not the other, but often they won't agree. – user unknown Jul 10 '11 at 17:39
@user: language always happens in the context of people. If many people attach some positive or negative feelings to words, then that is important. – Joachim Sauer Jul 11 '11 at 9:32
Attaching some positive or negative feelings to words, is not important - it's the wrong way to use language. If somebody produces negative feelings when hearing the word 'ill', and I tell him "I'm not ill anymore", he simply reacts wrong. We shouldn't behave like Pawlovs dog, and shouldn't excuse such behaviour. – user unknown Jul 11 '11 at 11:51

When used for a technology product the usage of "simpel" is not appropriate. Indeed it does have the subtle meaning of something to be very easy on one hand but on the other hand also to be not so sophisticated.

In the context of technology use e.g.:

es ist einfach zu bedienen (simple)

es ist leicht zu bedienen (easy)

es ist nicht schwer zusammenzubauen (not hard)

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Thanks for the explanation.The aim of the product is "to be so easy to use that it feels natural". – Jagira Jul 10 '11 at 5:19
You could say e.g.: "Das Produkt ist einfach und intuitiv zu bedienen" or "... ist kinderleicht zu bedienen". – Takkat Jul 10 '11 at 7:41
I think it's wrong to directly associate simple with einfach and easy with leicht. I'd consider the two synonymous in this context. – phant0m Jul 10 '11 at 9:46
they are synonyms like simple and easy are - it's more a tendency (leicht does not quite translate to simple - where easy works better) – Takkat Jul 10 '11 at 9:59
Yes, you may be right about the tendency, but then again, the tendency is about different contexts. In this context here, you could just as well reverse the associations: "It's simple to use" -> "Es ist leicht zu bedienen." works just as well. I do realize I may be nitpicking here, I just thought your reply was suggesting something that doesn't really apply here. – phant0m Jul 10 '11 at 12:06

Both meanings are popular, but I can't think of a situation in which a) is intended and b) is understood. So the problem is not a possible misunderstanding.

However, to my ears, "simpel" does not sound like a word you want to have in an operating manual. It's not colloquial, but somehow a little blunt (can't find a better way to describe it). The standard word is "einfach", it has the meaning a) and sounds a lot better (at least in written text).

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"einfach" can have traces of meaning b) as well, but it's a lot rarer than with "simpel" and not as strong. "Er ist ein bisschen einfach." – Joachim Sauer Jul 11 '11 at 8:48

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