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Flula does not understand idioms
October 20, 2011 2:36 AM   Subscribe

German DJ Flula Borg does not understand why you would shoot fish in a barrel, does not understand the logic of rock, paper, scissors and definitely does not want to shoot the shit.

See also: He would also like you to name three Germans and does not like the Miami Heat.
posted by alby (48 comments total) 27 users marked this as a favorite

 
Also, The Proof Is In The Pudding, Please Why?.
posted by alby at 2:51 AM on October 20, 2011 [2 favorites]


LMAO
posted by the mad poster! at 3:00 AM on October 20, 2011


Actually, rock, paper, dynamite would kinda make more sense. The scissors could cut the wick of the dynamite so that it wouldn't go off.
posted by XMLicious at 3:02 AM on October 20, 2011 [1 favorite]


Heh. This is really instructive.

A common mistake Americans make is assuming that people who speak decent English understand American idioms. They don't.

I was sitting in a meeting next to a Japanese colleague whose English was quite OK listening to an American speaker who repeatedly said "We want to create a level playing field."

My colleague leans over to me and whispers "What is a level playing field?"

"It means that everything should be equal for everyone. That no one should have an advantage."

*Blank stare*

"What does that have to do with a field?"

"A level pitch - a playing field is a pitch."

"OK. Now I see it."

One time I was sitting with my former boss, a very senior executive who spoke excellent English, while he was being prepared for a deposition by a Texas attorney.

"If they go there, well, we'll just put the kibosh on it."

"That dog don't hunt."

"That'll be guild on the lilly."

"If you're gonna run with the big dogs, you gotta learn to piss in the tall grass."

And so forth.

My boss who was too proud to admit in the room in front of everyone he had no idea what these things meant takes me aside during the break and asks for an explanation.

So I take the attorney aside and say "Mike, Jan doesn't understand your idioms."

Mike: "Huh?"

Me: "Your language. It's not clear what you mean. Kibosh isn't in his vocabulary and honestly spoken, I'm from Philadelphia and I don't have a clue what that whole "piss in the tall grass" means. You gotta use simple English and don't use any metaphors, idioms, etc."

Mike: "Got it."

It was as if I put a handcuffs on him. He was barely able to talk without those crutches.

Even things you would think are self-obvious are not often obvious to someone who speaks English as a second language. And to further confuse things, a lot of Europeans who learn English learn British English (but not the British accent).
posted by three blind mice at 3:04 AM on October 20, 2011 [8 favorites]


I haven't laughed this hard in too long, and my brain is too fogged with mirth to explain why.

Thank you.
posted by troll at 3:06 AM on October 20, 2011


I would like to know what he uses to keep the dick-cam so steady.
posted by chavenet at 3:06 AM on October 20, 2011


"That'll be guild on the lilly."

Yer doing it wrong.
posted by chavenet at 3:06 AM on October 20, 2011 [7 favorites]


I found it rather tedious... its not like they don't have German Idioms that are just as incomprehensible to a non-Native speaker.

http://www.amazon.com/German-Idioms-Barrons-Henry-Strutz/dp/0812090101
posted by mary8nne at 3:11 AM on October 20, 2011 [1 favorite]


mary8nne, did you only watch the fish in a barrel one?

that one did seem a bit tedious, but he sold me on his rock paper dynamite speech

"....and now we have sand...."
posted by mannequito at 3:13 AM on October 20, 2011 [1 favorite]


name three Germans

What did he expect?
posted by three blind mice at 3:17 AM on October 20, 2011


name three Germans

What did he expect?


I think he expected he could make a funny video out of the answers.
posted by charles kaapjes at 3:38 AM on October 20, 2011 [2 favorites]


I think he expected he could make a funny video out of the answers.

What's funny (funny as in strange, curious) is that most Germans tend to not make fun of - or even go to - the Hitler meme. Believe it or not, most young Germans are rather embarrassed about being associated with Hitler. It's bad taste and unfunny for a German.

An Englishman could have a field day though.....
posted by three blind mice at 3:47 AM on October 20, 2011


A while back I spent some time trying to figure out how to make Flula into a FPP, but failed, so yay. I really love Flula in Germany. I couldn't find the ones where he's making a bizarre documentary with the assistance of cousin Jürgen.
posted by hoyland at 4:14 AM on October 20, 2011 [2 favorites]


I really kept expecting this to be some jerko making fun of hyper-literal Germans. Which, whatever.

Apparently, it is not. He is like a real dude! Even Wikipedia says so. Hooray!

German playfulness is not always on display, so thanks for these in-the-wild finds. Great post!
posted by Poppa Bear at 4:40 AM on October 20, 2011


I'm wondering whether there's a flip side to the "those wacky Germans with their literal-mindedness and long words" jokes. Do they have jokes about the English/Americans and their ridiculous doublespeak and circumlocution and/or their habit of breaking concepts down to long streams of short words in Germany? Perhaps a sort of hyper-English caricature, where a perfectly logical six-syllable German word becomes a lengthy, absurdistic stream of consciousness or something.
posted by acb at 4:59 AM on October 20, 2011 [2 favorites]


Badger, I Eat You
posted by rory at 5:17 AM on October 20, 2011


Apparently, it is not. He is like a real dude! Even Wikipedia says so. Hooray!

That does not change the fact that he is totally pulling legs.*

*Why does he pull legs? Because he is GERMAN. Germans enjoy pulling legs.
posted by Civil_Disobedient at 5:19 AM on October 20, 2011 [2 favorites]


I really love Flula in Germany.

Oh yeah, this one's even better! Opa Döner Poodles Bread...
posted by rory at 5:22 AM on October 20, 2011


"The proof is in the pudding" is pretty simple as idioms go. Even simpler is the older and longer "the proof of the pudding is in the eating" -- ie "you can tell if the pudding is any good when you eat it." Now, "the exception that proves the rule," which most native English speakers seem to assume means the totally insane "a rule is true if you can find a case where it isn't" as opposed to the actual meaning "an exception tests the rule -- if there is an exception that cannot be explained, the rule is false."

However, Herr Borg, the proof really is in the pudding!

I'll bow out now, since I don't really have a dog in this fight.
posted by GenjiandProust at 6:08 AM on October 20, 2011


This would kind of make sense if it wasn't a German guy which language is the gold standard (would he get that one?) of words, like schadenfreude, which are untranslatable into English.

The proof is in the pudding and flag it and move on!
posted by bukvich at 6:17 AM on October 20, 2011


Nice example, GenjiandProust. There's also how "wolde you bothe eate your cake, and have your cake?", i.e. still have the cake after you've eaten it, has changed to the more confusing "have your cake and eat it too", which is surely what anyone in possession of cake intends to do with it. Orwell was still using the older order (eat and have) as late as the 1930s, so the dominance of the less obvious form must be relatively recent.
posted by rory at 6:20 AM on October 20, 2011 [3 favorites]


He really is pulling legs.
There is a very similar saying to 'looking a gift horse in the mouth' in German:
Einem geschenkten Gaul schaut man nicht ins Maul.
posted by charles kaapjes at 6:27 AM on October 20, 2011


as opposed to the actual meaning "an exception tests the rule -- if there is an exception that cannot be explained, the rule is false."

That is not the meaning of "the exception that proves the rule". Prove does not mean "test". The expression means that a stated exception implies the existence of a rule to which it is the exception. E.g.:

Stating that emergency vehicles may exceed the speed limit carries the implicature that other vehicles may not do so, even if the latter is not explicitly stated. Similarly, a sign that says "parking prohibited on Sundays" (the exception) "proves" that parking is allowed on the other six days of the week (the rule).
posted by martinrebas at 6:33 AM on October 20, 2011 [5 favorites]


I can't wait to get home to watch these. When I worked in stock photography, we would get loads first head scratching imagery where we knew there was a metaphor in there - but not one common in North America.
posted by Calzephyr at 6:34 AM on October 20, 2011


most young Germans are rather embarrassed about being associated with Hitler. It's bad taste and unfunny for a German.

An Englishman could have a field day though.....
posted by three blind mice at 11:47 AM on October 20


Never!
posted by Decani at 7:16 AM on October 20, 2011


Prove does not mean "test"

OED, prove, v.
II. To make trial of; to try, test.
6. a. trans. To put (a person or thing) to the test; to test the genuineness or qualities of; (Sc.) to test by tasting, to sample. Now rare in general use (but cf. technical uses at senses 6b, 6f, etc.).

Your own link to that Wikipedia entry indicates a few different ways the phrase can reasonably be used, including yours and GenjiandProust's.
posted by rory at 7:26 AM on October 20, 2011 [3 favorites]


Ok, then let me put it this way: "Prove" does not mean "test" in the original and (according to Fowler's Modern English Usage) most correct interpretation of "The exception [that] proves the rule".
posted by martinrebas at 7:36 AM on October 20, 2011


i.e. still have the cake after you've eaten it, has changed to the more confusing "have your cake and eat it too", which is surely what anyone in possession of cake intends to do with it.

I have to restrain myself from saying anything every time it comes up. I don't really understand why it bothers me so much but I just want to shout of course you can have your cake and eat it too. That's why you have cake! So you can eat it too. But just try having your cake after you eat it.

Another that bugs me is the prevalence of 'try and do something'. I'm going to try and get that finished. I'm going to try and make that change. The 'and' makes the 'try' superfluous. If you try something AND you do something, then the trying part isn't necessary as you've done it successfully.

Ahem. Please proceed.
posted by Babblesort at 7:48 AM on October 20, 2011


There's actually something about the heavy accent vs his English diction that gives away that he's heaping on the German-ness.
posted by progosk at 7:58 AM on October 20, 2011


The Straight Dope dismisses my Exception explanation as stupid. For a bonus, it mentions "the proof is in the pudding," bring us back to Herr Borg.
posted by GenjiandProust at 8:02 AM on October 20, 2011


Put me down for inexplicably amused and charmed.

He's like a younger, less jaded, more down to earth Werner Herzog.
posted by stroke_count at 8:21 AM on October 20, 2011


The Straight Dope dismisses my Exception explanation as stupid.

I wouldn't say that, GenjiandProust. That column pretty much rehearses the same debate about the phrase that we've just had here.
posted by rory at 8:23 AM on October 20, 2011 [1 favorite]


I wouldn't say that, GenjiandProust.

So the proof of the column is in the reading?
posted by GenjiandProust at 8:33 AM on October 20, 2011


Badger, I Eat You

I feel strongly that he would need more than a fork to eat that badger.
posted by GenjiandProust at 8:42 AM on October 20, 2011


"That'll be guild on the lilly."

I think there's a couple reasons that one escaped him.
posted by FatherDagon at 9:07 AM on October 20, 2011


Perhaps Mr. Borg would be heartened to know that some Americans are also confused about certain defecation-related idioms. Beavis, for one...
posted by obscurator at 9:16 AM on October 20, 2011


Whenever I find something that was lost, I always take a quick peek down my shorts, just so I can't truthfully say "it was in the last place I looked".
posted by nomisxid at 9:45 AM on October 20, 2011


It reminds me of George Carlin's famous line about "taking a shit." You do not take a shit ... you leave a shit.
posted by anothermug at 10:42 AM on October 20, 2011


My peeve is when people expect language in general (not just idioms) to make strictly logical sense. Language isn't math!

Interestingly, though, I recently had the reverse of this problem. I expected someone I was talking with to interpret "one of X is a Y" as "at least one of X is Y", which is the standard math/philosophy usage and for some reason is my general usage in my idiolect. But for this other person "one of X is a Y" implies "only one of X is a Y". That surprised me, but a discussion on Language Log that resulted from my emailing Mark Liberman about it indicated that a lot of people will understand it that way. I guess in this case my usage is inappropriately strictly logical.
posted by Ivan Fyodorovich at 11:00 AM on October 20, 2011


Ah yes. One of x is a y. I am going to punch some clever man in the face when that pops up.

My logic prof in college was married to an English prof. He said he was exasperated trying to get her to understand that the word "but" can mean "and". "We went to the store, but Bob stayed home." The exception is that "All but one of us went to the store" does not mean "all and one" but instead means "all except one".

Words can have multiple meanings.

I need to go look up the fish in a barrel thing. I used to always think of it as shooting with a gun, fish that were in a barrel, but it always struck me as an odd thing to consider as being easy. Some time ago it occurred to me that it could mean to put the fish in a barrel, as with a fish pump like you see when they stock lakes. Again, not a particularly easy thing. Falling off a log, I get that, that's easy. But shooting fish in a barrel? Why the fuck not rubbing monkeys under a blanket?
posted by Xoebe at 11:42 AM on October 20, 2011


Very German humor.

If you took calculous, then you should know that Gauss, Weierstrass, and Leibniz were German by their names. You might accidentally guess Cauchy I suppose, making one wrong answer, but you won't mistakenly guess Newton or Poincaré. And everyone should know Nietzsche, Marx, and Bismarck without thinking.
posted by jeffburdges at 11:53 AM on October 20, 2011


This is the man who I want to read Roy Orbison in clingfilm stories to me.

I would pay cash money.
posted by everichon at 2:07 PM on October 20, 2011


XMLicious: Paper is beaten by scissors and beats rock. Dynamite is beaten by scissors and beats rock.
posted by PueExMachina at 9:40 PM on October 20, 2011 [1 favorite]


Yeah, I meant to say Rock, Dynamite, Scissors.
posted by XMLicious at 9:44 PM on October 20, 2011


With an act like that, Flula won't be singing his swan song anytime soon.
posted by Twang at 12:25 AM on October 21, 2011


Whatever you do, don't ask this guy to give you a break.
posted by Twang at 12:26 AM on October 21, 2011


Uh, I don't think he's German. I love the guy, been following him since the NBA playoffs this year, but, no, no, there's no way he's really German.
posted by converge at 2:29 AM on October 21, 2011


I really like what this guy is doing. Very funny stuff.
posted by Chorian at 1:09 AM on November 8, 2011


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