Monthly Archives: September 2014

Kann der Mond bumsen?

I was taking some meeting minutes with a colleague yesterday. We did the whole meeting German — it was all native speakers bis auf Yours Truly, so there was no reason not to. But we wanted to record the decisions and action plans in English, since the wider audience is not likely to be just German-speakers. This happens pretty frequently where I work.

I noticed we were using plenty of Denglish (that is also a fact of life in my line of work), and for a distraction at the end of a tiring day I asked about the gender of all those English words we’d employed in the discussion:

  • die Farm (as opposed to der Bauernhof)
  • der Level (as opposed to die Ebene or die Schicht)
  • der View (as opposed to die Sicht or die Maske)
  • die Mail, because die Nachricht (but some say das Mail)

I got faux ornery1 at my colleague. I asked him, accusingly, “so how did the entire German Rasse2 collectively decide which gender to assign to which words you imported from my native language you obviously prefer over perfectly usable equivalent terms in your own Muttersprache?

His answer: Continue reading

  1. Pronounced fo zorneREE []
  2. He cringed, and I admit to delighting in that. []
"BNSF 5350 20040808 Prairie du Chien WI" by User Slambo on en.wikipedia (same as Slambo here) - Photo by Sean Lamb (Slambo). Licensed under CC BY-SA 2.0 via Wikimedia Commons.

“Es zieht!”

What does, exactly? Get used to this expression around Germans. They, painting with a very broad cultural brush here, are sensitive to moving air, for whatever reason:

  1. They are convinced a current of moving air causes temperature differentials and affects circulation, resulting in (unwanted) stiffness.
  2. They regret having teased that ugly girl who grew up to be a witch and is now likely to shoot them in the back with magic. No, really: there’s a German Wikipedia entry about how mysterious, sudden backpain was blamed on black magic.
  3. They think that moving air — too much or not enough of it — is the root of all not immediately explainable ailments, particularly the upper-respiratory kind.

If you ask a modern German “What’s up with your culturally pervasive notions about moving air?” they tend to respond along the lines of #1 or #3. But, if they are honest with themselves, it’s #2 above causing the most concern. Continue reading