Join 3,522 readers in helping fund MetaFilter (Hide)


Just remember to obey the red man and get some qualifications…
May 11, 2013 4:09 PM   Subscribe

How to be German in 20 easy steps; also, from the same author: how to be English. Elsewhere: how to be a really hip German.
posted by acb (84 comments total) 41 users marked this as a favorite

 
Ritter Sport mit Leberwurst - mein gott das ist hässlich.
posted by Foci for Analysis at 4:17 PM on May 11, 2013 [4 favorites]


I drifted off into a sort of breakfast coma and they had to wake me with some eszet, which is a sort of chocolate strip you put on bread. I didn’t know you could legally combine chocolate and bread, it was quite a revelation. Now I just eat eszet with everything

Tell me how quickly and efficiently I can transport this "eszet" out of Germany and into my American mouth, please tell me NOW.
posted by nicebookrack at 4:43 PM on May 11, 2013 [11 favorites]


I'm generally pretty happy with Nutella... Is this eszet even better?
posted by Strass at 4:47 PM on May 11, 2013


Eszet apparently eliminates the delay of the pesky "spread on bread with knife" step that Nutella requires, which could save me a whole five minutes some mornings when you factor in the "search drawer for clean knife then give up and use back of cereal spoon handle" time.
posted by nicebookrack at 4:52 PM on May 11, 2013 [2 favorites]


No joke on the fizzy water bit, as my husband and I learned to our dismay. Being regular tap-water-drinking 'Murricans we had the the worst time trying to avoid the fizzy mineralated stuff.
posted by Kitty Stardust at 4:56 PM on May 11, 2013


If someone invented insurance insurance, an insurance against not having the right insurance, we’d all be treated to the sight of 80 million people dying of happiness.

I'm cackling.
posted by villanelles at dawn at 5:01 PM on May 11, 2013 [6 favorites]


English, at least linguistically, has always been the biggest slut in the room.

So, so true.
posted by Cash4Lead at 5:10 PM on May 11, 2013 [3 favorites]


is this eszet even better?

Yeß.
posted by sandettie light vessel automatic at 5:19 PM on May 11, 2013 [29 favorites]


This was so much better than I expected, most of the text is spot on and he avoided all the lame cliches and cheap shots (hurr HitlerOktoberfestAutobahnHasselhoff).

Tell me how quickly and efficiently I can transport this "eszet" out of Germany and into my American mouth, please tell me NOW.

Just put a thin bar of chocolate on a buttered slice of bread. It's as simple and amazing as that.
posted by snownoid at 5:40 PM on May 11, 2013 [3 favorites]


That was really charming.
posted by Phire at 6:17 PM on May 11, 2013


Needs more eww what's with the toilets?
posted by Sys Rq at 6:29 PM on May 11, 2013 [1 favorite]


I think the shelf toilets are finally going by the wayside, thank god. But yeah, eeeewwwwwww. How about the sitzpinklers thing?
posted by JoeZydeco at 6:39 PM on May 11, 2013 [1 favorite]


Yeah I wondered why they didn't delve into the toilets.
I was hoping this was a bit funnier so I could send it to my German mother-in-law.
Also, wurst is awesome. Although, after a few weeks of travelling in Germany and all the wurst and potatoes, you start to feel as though you are packing a musket, if you know what I mean.
posted by chococat at 6:40 PM on May 11, 2013 [2 favorites]


I have a vague recollection of an FPP a few years ago, dealing with those toilets, the German obsession with poo, and the larger socio-political ramifications thereof.
posted by chococat at 6:45 PM on May 11, 2013


German hotels have amazing breakfasts - huge selection of fresh bread and all sorts of ham and cheeses. Someone should think of opening a chain in the US that just serves German breakfast buffet; I'd gladly eat there.
posted by pravit at 6:52 PM on May 11, 2013 [6 favorites]


I think the often exaggerated stereotype that Germans love to follow the rules all comes down to one little illuminated red man. Guardian and God of the crossing pedestrian. To dare challenge his authority and step gingerly out into a completely empty road when he is still red, is to take great personal risk.

Not of getting run over, the road is completely empty after all. Bar being struck by an invisible car, you’re safe.

No, what you really risk is the scorn, the tutting and the shouts of “Halt!” from nearby Germans. Who will now consider you an irresponsible, possibly suicidal, social renegade.


This. Me. Heidelberg, 1983, one winter morning on the way to class just after crossing the Theodor-Heuss-Bruecke. Exactly this, as described.

They were, of course, perfectly correct in doing so.
posted by Kinbote at 7:04 PM on May 11, 2013 [2 favorites]


I went to Germany a while ago and the importance of titles, etc. was stressed to me in pretty much every setting, including such simple things as hotel reservations. Or, oh, I don't know, introductions to people. In the US, I just like to go by my name-- I don't even like to be called Doctor by staff or patients unless it's an introduction or clinical setting where professionalism is warranted (say, when patients, family are around-- not so professional for staff members to call each other by their first names casually).

So how was I supposed to be introduced? Herr Prof Dr. med [Herr Doktor] MD. At least that's what I was told. It seems to ludicrous, I'd like to give up my real name and go by Herr Professor Doktor med Herr Doktor MD.

Out of curiosity, is this correct? I'm a professor, I'm a physician board-certified in the US, and I'm a male. I've seen signs of physicians there where some had MDs after their names, some didn't. Some included even more professional organization memberships.

I'd just like to have a nickname with as many Herr Doktor Prof Med Doktor Herr Doktor MD whatevers to be ridiculous.

Oh, and I have a BA in English. Does that count for anything? Haha!
posted by herrdoktor at 7:13 PM on May 11, 2013 [3 favorites]


Make sure to follow the link to the Wurstbilder page and scroll all the way down for more Wurst im Quadrat from Ritter. I think Griebenschmalz is my favorite.
posted by benito.strauss at 7:27 PM on May 11, 2013


Wait now, shelf what?I
posted by JHarris at 8:13 PM on May 11, 2013


When Germans are given honorary degrees, they actually use them and incorporate them in their titles.
posted by knoyers at 8:23 PM on May 11, 2013 [1 favorite]


Yeah, I've attended an event where a speaker was introduced as Herr Professor Doktor Doktor Irgendjemand because he had two PhDs. Nobody but me found this funny.
posted by i_am_joe's_spleen at 8:29 PM on May 11, 2013 [6 favorites]


I just read the English one, because I'm a British ex-pat. Unless things have changed since I left in 99, I respectfully disagree with the patriotism one. Waving, wearing or displaying flags always seemed slightly creepy and was associated with the National Front. Has that changed since the Olympics?

Also, shelf toilets allow ladies to acheive silent peeing. I like that feature.
posted by Joh at 8:30 PM on May 11, 2013


Waving, wearing or displaying flags always seemed slightly creepy and was associated with the National Front. Has that changed since the Olympics?

Ask UKIP.
posted by benito.strauss at 8:48 PM on May 11, 2013


The German Poo-Shelf Toilet
posted by djb at 8:49 PM on May 11, 2013 [2 favorites]


I've just connected the poo-shelf toilet design with the campaigns for Sitzpinkeln. It all makes sense now.
posted by i_am_joe's_spleen at 9:00 PM on May 11, 2013


Thanks djb. I would favorite your comment, but I would not like to imply approval of that object. Thanks for the information though.
posted by JHarris at 9:02 PM on May 11, 2013 [2 favorites]


(I note that the poo-shelf toilet article is on the website of Brian Sack, he of the Daily Show alternative on the Glenn Beck channel. I guess if anyone knows about crap....)
posted by JHarris at 9:05 PM on May 11, 2013


The part about German thinking process is pretty damned spot-on for my very German father-in-law. Also every German client I have ever worked with. Uncanny!
posted by Doleful Creature at 9:49 PM on May 11, 2013


I call that toilet feature "the poop deck." It is, Gott sei Dank, slowly going away. Not quickly enough.

As someone who lived in Germany for a year, I totally agree with this whole list. It's so charming and hilarious that I've read it before, but I read it again anyway. My only quibble is #16. There is an exception to #16: You don't have to hate Bavaria if you are Bavarian. Bavarians are Germans too! (I love Bavaria.)

True fizzy water anecdote: Once, I was backpacking in Bavaria, in the Alps. We stayed in a mountain cabin/hostel thing. A place frequented by hikers and people doing athletic things. People who are going to need to fill up water bottles, is what I'm getting at. All the taps in the bathrooms had signs saying the water wasn't potable, so we asked the staff in the morning if they could fill up our CamelBaks. They said they could, but the only potable water on tap was carbonated. Really? Yes, really. So, for the first couple hours of our hike, we drank carbonated water from CamelBaks. And we had to stop about every half hour to "burp" them - they got so puffed up from all the carbon dioxide that we were afraid they'd explode otherwise.
posted by mandanza at 10:06 PM on May 11, 2013 [2 favorites]


Wow. Just - wow. I lived in Munich for nearly four years in the 90s, and was married to a native German for fifteen. Everything in these lists is spot on, starting with the house shoes. Within a week of my arrival (I was 20, fresh out of college), I got myself the required pair of Birkenstocks, but drew looks of surprise and brow-furrowing concern from the future inlaws when I wore them outside. (I was the wacky American who liked to put jam AND butter on her soft pretzels at breakfast, and wear said Birkenstocks while traipsing through the city with my Jack Wolfskin fanny pack.) The fizzy water, oh God... One of the first words I learned was Tafelwasser, which some waiters wouldn't even serve me. The bread, oh God... I called it Drekbrot. (I also loved pissing off my German friends by making up words, like Scheißkopf. "That's not a word!" Pffft.)

So many stories and memories coming to mind... The crispy-thin toilet paper. The bizarrely square pillows. The utter absence of real orange juice. The pristine (read: boring) cleanliness of the Übahn. The intensely strict rules of narrow one-way aisles in the Aldi supermarkets. Those insanely delicious pretzels. People staring at my naturally red hair. The gloriously international students in my German-language classes, from Finland to Eritrea and beyond. The cold stiffness when I tried to hug people I'd only recently met. Designer (read: rectangular/octagonal/trapezoidal) metal-rimmed eyeglasses. A glass of half beer and half lemon soda (called a Radler after a group of bicyclists showed up at a roadside inn that didn't have enough beer -- so the innkeeper thinned it out with soda). And bicycles, everywhere, with little baskets for your shopping.

Sorry for going on and on, but this FPP brought back a huge river of memories (some good, some bad, some bittersweet). Tomorrow I'm going to go to the local bagel shop here in my little Upstate New York town, which makes a decent true-German lye-based pretzel, and eat it with butter AND jam while standing outside in my slippers.
posted by flyingsquirrel at 10:14 PM on May 11, 2013 [9 favorites]


I've never even met a German person and my ancestry is Irish but I have just now learned that Germany might be my spirit country. I do all of these things - the only one I know who prefers carbonated drinks and is only now learning not to gag on plain water, the only one hanging back at the curb obeying the red/white guy, everyone else running ahead thinking they can predict the future, being obsessed with planning, prep, process, long breakfasts and carbonated apple drinks, not wanting to hug people i just met, Germany was also my favorite country at Epcot. But I can't seem to abide German food, or the renditions of it I've had in Chicago and how it mostly seemed bland and pale. Hopefully one can't judge based on that.
posted by bleep at 10:46 PM on May 11, 2013 [3 favorites]


I just read the English one, because I'm a British ex-pat. Unless things have changed since I left in 99, I respectfully disagree with the patriotism one.

That's because you moved from Britain to America, so your traditional patriotism seems understated in comparison. The article's author moved from England to Germany.
posted by Harvey Kilobit at 11:11 PM on May 11, 2013 [3 favorites]


Read this in bed with my German-born wife, under our two single duvets. Dunno about the mattresses, we have one, but the two duvets are a great, potentially relationship-saving innovation.

Outside Germany, the terrifying corollary of "Obey the little red man" is "Step casually into the direct path of a three-ton SUV driven by an inattentive moron on his iPhone because the traffic rules say it's OK".
posted by TheophileEscargot at 12:22 AM on May 12, 2013


I was hoping this was a bit funnier so I could send it to my German mother-in-law.

But as Spike Milligan memorably said, 'The German sense of humour is no laughing matter.'
posted by PeterMcDermott at 12:37 AM on May 12, 2013 [4 favorites]


The english one is scarily spot on, as my French wife will attest. She'd already pointed out to me the 'if it stops moving long enough, slap some carpet on it' obsession, the 'if you can't carpet it, form an orderly queue behind it' mentality, and the 'if it's still moving, kill it, fry it, add some peas and call it dinner' approach to cuisine.
posted by ArkhanJG at 12:56 AM on May 12, 2013 [4 favorites]


The bread thing is hilarious because I just started baking as a hobby. When it was cookies and cakes and desserts I'd post pictures of, I got the usual comments of "looks good" and "I want some" and that kind of thing. When I MENTIONED on my various social media feeds that I was trying breads, pretty much every German person I'd ever met started sending me messages about precisely how important making bread was and I should do this or that, all of it naturally in Very Serious tone with very German instructions as if I'd said "This weekend I'm going to dabble in heart surgery" around a bunch of surgeons.
posted by Ghostride The Whip at 1:01 AM on May 12, 2013 [10 favorites]


I call that toilet feature "the poop deck." It is, Gott sei Dank, slowly going away.

Still going strong in the Netherlands. Nothing better than to do your business without awkward splashes on the bum, then look down proudly on your works, then with one mighty flush see it slowly, stately move down the shelf and into the pipes. If you do it properly, it stays whole until it disappears from sight.
posted by MartinWisse at 1:36 AM on May 12, 2013 [9 favorites]


22. Eat german "bread" is hilarious:

It's true English bread is of the soft and cuddly persuasion. Sometimes I'm not sure whether to make a sandwich with it, or just sort of climb in and have a little nap. It's a bouncy castle for the taste buds. I can see how you wouldn't like that. Frivolous. In comparison when I see German bread, I have the urge to thump my chest and shout "Jawohl".
posted by ipsative at 1:53 AM on May 12, 2013


I moved to Germany a year ago. The first thing I did (it was April, it rained non-stop for the first two weeks I was) was to get a Jack-Wolfskin jacket (which is an expensive, yet not very functional, German outdoor clothing brand). I use it as a camouflage to fit into the German landscape. Nothing says 'local' more than a Jack-Wolfskin jacket.

Also, the sauerkraut in the university's cafeteria is one of the dishes you know they can't fuck up too bad.
posted by sockpuppetdirect at 1:59 AM on May 12, 2013 [2 favorites]


Nothing better than to do your business without awkward splashes on the bum, then look down proudly on your works, then with one mighty flush see it slowly, stately move down the shelf and into the pipes. If you do it properly, it stays whole until it disappears from sight.

𝙏𝙃𝙀 𝙃𝙊𝙍𝙍𝙊𝙍... 𝙏𝙃𝙀 𝙃𝙊𝙍𝙍𝙊𝙍...
posted by JHarris at 2:24 AM on May 12, 2013


I have been living in Heidelberg for close to three years now. This list is both very accurate and a solid reminder of exactly how much I have UTTERLY FAILED at being German.
posted by kyrademon at 2:24 AM on May 12, 2013 [3 favorites]


Yeah, The English one is lazy, stereotyped garbage. Not least because of the lazy, stereotyped and thoroughly outdated garbage about English food. Seriously: if you're still pushing that tired old crap about greasy fry-ups and bland food you do not have a clue about modern English food and you would do well to shut your ignorant trap.
posted by Decani at 2:54 AM on May 12, 2013 [1 favorite]


I went to Germany a while ago and the importance of titles, etc. was stressed to me in pretty much every setting, including such simple things as hotel reservations.
Was that a long while ago? Titles are somewhat more important in Germany than they are in the US, but there really isn't that much of a difference. I never use my Dr. rer. nat. in my private life and neither do most people I know. If anything, using your title too much is considered somewhat tacky. This has probably changed quite a bit over the past few decades.

So how was I supposed to be introduced? Herr Prof Dr. med [Herr Doktor] MD. At least that's what I was told. It seems to ludicrous, I'd like to give up my real name and go by Herr Professor Doktor med Herr Doktor MD.

Out of curiosity, is this correct? I'm a professor, I'm a physician board-certified in the US, and I'm a male. I've seen signs of physicians there where some had MDs after their names, some didn't. Some included even more professional organization memberships.


No, it's not correct and if you call yourself that in Germany, you will get into legal trouble. I'm not sure about "Professor" (which has a much more specific meaning in Germany and is not an academic degree), but you're definitely not a Dr. med., you're an "MD (USA)".
posted by snownoid at 3:12 AM on May 12, 2013


NYT: German Fascination With Degrees Claims Latest Victim: Education Minister
posted by muckster at 3:37 AM on May 12, 2013



This. Me. Heidelberg, 1983, one winter morning on the way to class just after crossing the Theodor-Heuss-Bruecke. Exactly this, as described.


A friend of mine (an Australian rock musician) lived in Berlin for a few years. One day he was walking back from a gig with his (German) girlfriend and came to a road crossing with a red Ampelmann. He crossed nonetheless, to which his girlfriend said, “you just don't respect our culture at all, do you?”. They broke up a week later.
posted by acb at 4:58 AM on May 12, 2013 [11 favorites]


There is an exception to #16: You don't have to hate Bavaria if you are Bavarian. Bavarians are Germans too! (I love Bavaria.)

Isn't the Bavarian dialect further away from standard German than, say, Danish or Dutch is, being only classified as a dialect of German rather than a distinct Germanic language for political reasons?
posted by acb at 5:01 AM on May 12, 2013


MartinWisse: "Nothing better than to do your business without awkward splashes on the bum, then look down proudly on your works, then with one mighty flush see it slowly, stately move down the shelf and into the pipes. If you do it properly, it stays whole until it disappears from sight"

God yes so glad to be back home, after the horror of the American wadingpool sized toilets perfectly designed for maximum splashback. And why the hell are they so low to the ground?
posted by HFSH at 5:07 AM on May 12, 2013 [1 favorite]


Outside Germany, the terrifying corollary of "Obey the little red man" is "Step casually into the direct path of a three-ton SUV driven by an inattentive moron on his iPhone because the traffic rules say it's OK".

Only in the UK, AFAIK. (They tried to introduce the offence of jaywalking in the late 1960s, the high-water mark of car-centric urban planning in the UK, but it lasted for about two weeks before the British public reasserted their Magna Carta right to walk untrammelled across the road.) In Australia you can be fined for crossing against a red light, and in the US presumably as well.
posted by acb at 5:11 AM on May 12, 2013


Yeah, The English one is lazy, stereotyped garbage. Not least because of the lazy, stereotyped and thoroughly outdated garbage about English food. Seriously: if you're still pushing that tired old crap about greasy fry-ups and bland food you do not have a clue about modern English food and you would do well to shut your ignorant trap.

London breakfasts have moved on, not always in the right directions. I found out last week that it is possible to get a bowl of muesli with a tablespoonful of yoghurt for £5 in Clerkenwell.

Having said that, you can get decent granola, fruit salad, &c., in many places (in London, certainly). Though there still is an abundance of greasy-spoon caffs serving fry-ups, baked beans and such, with mugs of builder's tea of exceptionally badly made coffee.
posted by acb at 5:16 AM on May 12, 2013


Isn't the Bavarian dialect further away from standard German than, say, Danish or Dutch is, being only classified as a dialect of German rather than a distinct Germanic language for political reasons?

Yes, that is correct.
Actually, recent research has shown that Bavarian only barely belongs to the Indoeuropean language family and might have to be classified as belonging to the Indobavarian-Altai language family.
posted by sour cream at 5:16 AM on May 12, 2013 [2 favorites]


Much as the German-speaking Swiss dislike the Germans, this is frighteningly accurate for here, too. The glass-clinking with every individual at the table (and you are not allowed to leave a party until you have individually farewelled and shaken the hand of or kissed the cheeks of every other guest). The giant weekend breakfasts, the Wurst (wrapped in greaseproof paper with a bread roll or Brotli on the side), the obeisance to the red man.

But if I dared to tell a German-speaking Swiss person about the similarities they would probably be mortally offended.

As far as the preparedness part: I don't know about Germany but here every apartment has a lockable, fenced-in chunk of cellarspace for storage (every building is required to have a nuclear bunker so that is used as communal storage until someone eventually blows everyone up). So many of our neighbours' units are filled with canned food, bulk packs of toilet paper, bottles of fizzy water it's a little disturbing. And that from someone who moved here from a seismic zone.
posted by tracicle at 5:41 AM on May 12, 2013 [1 favorite]


In Australia you can be fined for crossing against a red light, and in the US presumably as well.

In the parts of the US which are older than cars, jaywalking may possibly be on the books as a ticketable offense, but in practice this is ignored with varying degrees of ostentation. (In New York, cars and pedestrians have a detente, in Boston pedestrians cross whenever and wherever the hell the feel like, fully expecting any car to stop for them.)

In awful places like California jaywalking is treated like an actual crime and you're expected to wait around and empty intersection like a cow for the light to change. This is because in California non-exercise walking is itself regarded as a terrible faux pas which is barely tolerated and certainly not encouraged. I believe the same holds in Texas and many other cities in the West where they like to dispense with such fripperies as sidewalks.
posted by Diablevert at 5:54 AM on May 12, 2013 [8 favorites]


As far as the preparedness part: I don't know about Germany but here every apartment has a lockable, fenced-in chunk of cellarspace for storage (every building is required to have a nuclear bunker so that is used as communal storage until someone eventually blows everyone up). So many of our neighbours' units are filled with canned food, bulk packs of toilet paper, bottles of fizzy water it's a little disturbing. And that from someone who moved here from a seismic zone.

Switzerland has made a career of being prepared to repel any kind of hostilities. Apparently all bridges and tunnels by law have to be mined with explosives which can be detonated in the event of an invasion (and the engineers who design them put in the explosives as part of their military service).
posted by acb at 5:56 AM on May 12, 2013


After reading this I don't even want to think about how embarrassing "How to be an American" might be.
posted by Xurando at 6:08 AM on May 12, 2013 [2 favorites]


My grandmother is German, I've lived in Germany... IT'S ALL TOO TRUE.

Notable omission: love of clapping. German folk music is designed for rhythmic clapping. Try to import anything with a complicated beat and you will fail as HOW ARE YOU SUPPOSED TO CLAP TO IT. There's a reason Germans didn't invent jazz.
posted by sonika at 6:47 AM on May 12, 2013 [4 favorites]


in Boston pedestrians cross whenever and wherever the hell the feel like, fully expecting any car to stop for them

This is partly because the crossing lights are little better than a joke and if you wait for a car to stop... well, they won't. So you cross anyway and get cursed at. But that happens even if you're in a crosswalk and the car has a red light. I've seen German tourists horrified and trembling at corners, not able to understand the rage of the automobile driver when the little green man smiles upon them.
posted by sonika at 6:51 AM on May 12, 2013


About Bavaria: Is this where I link to the Bavarian-language Wikipedia site? (Including FAQ (in German), if that helps.

Not page, mind you: Wikipedia site.
posted by Huffy Puffy at 7:06 AM on May 12, 2013 [1 favorite]


The bit in the English one about carpets is pretty old. It's been all about wooden or stone floors for about 20 years now.
posted by Summer at 7:12 AM on May 12, 2013


I believe the same holds in Texas and many other cities in the West where they like to dispense with such fripperies as sidewalks.

They ticketed jaywalkers in Austin recently for a while, but that was because A. a few people had been run down in crosswalks and B. the city needs money. Otherwise, though, the crosswalk lights are at best suggestions.
posted by DecemberBoy at 7:29 AM on May 12, 2013


A little out of date but : How to tell if You're American.
posted by The Whelk at 7:51 AM on May 12, 2013


djb : The German Poo-Shelf Toilet

Ah! Suddenly the whole freaky "no standing while peeing" thing actually makes sense to me!

I had always considered it some sort of misguided attempt at equalizing the genders, by socially handicapping the one that physically can stand while peeing (yes, I know women can learn to do so, but very, very few do). Instead, in (stereo)typical German manner, it has an entirely practical explanation.

For the same reason, incidentally, I swear someone could revolutionize the urinal industry by putting a fin in the center - If you just let it go nearly perpendicular to the back wall, tons of splashing; if you pee at a low angle to the porcelain, however, no splashback (and don't even get me started on the freaks who try to pee right in the water pooled at the bottom).
posted by pla at 8:24 AM on May 12, 2013


They ticketed jaywalkers in Austin recently for a while, but that was because A. a few people had been run down in crosswalks and B. the city needs money. Otherwise, though, the crosswalk lights are at best suggestions.

The police routinely ticketed jaywalkers in the (relatively walkable) Melbourne CBD a decade ago, regardless of traffic; I have no reason to believe that this has ceased. Mind you, in Victoria, if you cycle without a helmet anywhere, you will be fined, which is more a measure for keeping the road clear of large numbers of casual cyclists than preventing deaths. Australia is about cars, it seems, the way America is about guns, largely because car-dependent non-walkable outer-suburban electorates decide elections.
posted by acb at 8:25 AM on May 12, 2013


I had no idea that there was enough of a Bavarian language movement to make their own Wikipedia branch. That's wild. And I wonder just how much work it does take to get your own branch.
posted by benito.strauss at 10:05 AM on May 12, 2013


William Shier wrote the the most noble way for a German to die was to walk into the crosswalk on green knowing full well that the truck bearing down on them was the one breaking the rules.
posted by three blind mice at 10:17 AM on May 12, 2013 [12 favorites]


Since I'm a US citizen who's planning to marry a native German and move to Germany within a year or two, I've got a lot of planning and preparation to do. I'm reading whatever I can get my hands on about German culture. So this amusing list comes in quite handy.

Hmmm, let's see...reasons I'll fit right in (aside from the fact that my ancestry is half German): love my house shoes, obsessed with planning and preparation to the extent that I actually get paid to organize people's homes, extensive academic background (2 baccalaureate degrees - including one in philosophy - and a post-bac certificate), speak frankly about sex, always wait for the light to change before crossing the street (to the annoyance of many of my American friends), happy to do nothing on Sundays. And of course I'm studying the German language; progress is slow and I'm still a beginner, but I'm working diligently on it. My long-term goal is to become fluent enough that I can work as a German-to-English translator at some point after I move to Germany. The desire to communicate with my husband-to-be in his native language gives me pretty strong motivation to learn.

The rest I'll have to work on, I suppose. But I suspect I won't get very far with the sauerkraut.
posted by velvet winter at 10:55 AM on May 12, 2013 [1 favorite]


These articles are great, and they also point to different ways to learn German that sound like they could be fun. Since about the only sentences I can some up anymore are "Wo ist meine Buche?" it would be good to get back some vocabulary.

I finally found a place a while back that made sauerkraut just like mom used to make. I had a moment.
posted by fifteen schnitzengruben is my limit at 11:13 AM on May 12, 2013


Oh, and I have a BA in English. Does that count for anything? Haha!



Was meinst du mit einem BA in Englisch zu tun?
posted by ocschwar at 11:29 AM on May 12, 2013 [2 favorites]


I had no idea that there was enough of a Bavarian language movement to make their own Wikipedia branch. That's wild.

Not really. There are plenty of other German dialect/language Wikipedias, as the list of all Wikipedias makes clear. As well as a shedload of other minority languages.
posted by MartinWisse at 11:36 AM on May 12, 2013 [1 favorite]


So about the degree qualifications, Germany was until recently very ethnically homogeneous, and so lots of people shared teh same full name. Seems like credentials are a good way to disambiguate one Klaus Gerhardt Schmitt from another, although the Dutch get points for non-pretension for how they use home addresses for that purpose.
posted by ocschwar at 12:23 PM on May 12, 2013


"WATCH TATORT"

Yeah, if only the stores were open on Sunday, it would be the perfect time to do some shopping in peace.
posted by chillmost at 12:38 PM on May 12, 2013 [1 favorite]


So about the degree qualifications, Germany was until recently very ethnically homogeneous, and so lots of people shared teh same full name. Seems like credentials are a good way to disambiguate one Klaus Gerhardt Schmitt from another, although the Dutch get points for non-pretension for how they use home addresses for that purpose.

In Iceland, apparently, they use nicknames; they have them in the phone directory and everything. I guess the differences are (a) no Grunderzeit and corresponding university-building boom, and (b) no family names (Icelanders are generally known by their first name and their father's first name, i.e., “Magnus Hallgrimsson”).
posted by acb at 12:42 PM on May 12, 2013 [1 favorite]


I lived in Iceland and never heard of a nickname in the phone book, or really anyone having nicknames beyond the equivalents of "Mike" or "Dave." Where did you get this from?

(Pedantry: The phone book, and all other records, are organized by first name and your full name is your first name + patrynym (father's first name + son/dóttir). Almost no one has a last name in the sense that other Westerners are used to and so a husband and wife with a son and daughter all have different patrynyms. When addressing someone, or writing about someone, it's always the full name as "Mr. Björnsson" doesn't narrow it down, which is something that annoys me when I see American articles about Icelandic politics doing just that. David Oddson is David Oddson, not "Mr. Oddson.")
posted by sonika at 1:26 PM on May 12, 2013


(And yes "Odd" is a cromulent man's name in Iceland.)
posted by sonika at 1:27 PM on May 12, 2013 [1 favorite]


Let me extend a hearty velcome to you, Ms. Samtwinter and reassure you zat ze language vill be no problem. We will just assume zat you are vrom Bavaria.
posted by mmkhd at 3:29 PM on May 12, 2013


I guess this one should be the website telling you how to open beers?

We used to joke in Norway that the final exam to get your citizenship there would be putting you naked in an empty room with a beer, and you'd have to open it somehow. Must be a northern europe thing.

I've seen beers being opened with teeth, bottles, spoons, knives, lighters, shoes, tables, coins, keys, and any other protruding thing you could find around. I knew an australian guy that got so good with the spoon that he could open the bottle and hit you with the flying cap yards away.
posted by palbo at 6:23 PM on May 12, 2013 [1 favorite]


Isn't the Bavarian dialect further away from standard German than, say, Danish or Dutch is, being only classified as a dialect of German rather than a distinct Germanic language for political reasons?
posted by acb at 5:01 AM on May 12


No. Bavarian is a dialect of Hochdeutsch (High German). In spite of the jokes it is more or less mutually intelligible with the German spoken in the rest of the country. Dutch and Danish are more closely related to Plattdeutsch (Low German).
posted by Gringos Without Borders at 12:13 AM on May 13, 2013


The author is a madman if he can't admit that sauerkraut is among the most delicious of all foods.

"WATCH TATORT"

The hell is Tatort? No context at all.

In awful places like California jaywalking is treated like an actual crime and you're expected to wait around and empty intersection like a cow for the light to change. This is because in California non-exercise walking is itself regarded as a terrible faux pas which is barely tolerated and certainly not encouraged.

I'm sure your hometown is lovely too.
posted by psoas at 9:27 AM on May 13, 2013 [1 favorite]


> "WATCH TATORT"

The hell is Tatort? No context at all.


I thought the same thing. Apparently it's a cop show (tatort = crime scene). And according to the article, it fundamentally reflects the nature of being a modern German citizen. I wonder if Law and Order is telling the world more about the U.S. than we realize.
posted by benito.strauss at 11:01 AM on May 13, 2013


In what I imagine to be some sort of Ouroboros of Germanity, the blog mentioned above has a post on the very practical process of opening a beer bottle with nothing other than real German bread.

Also, I challenge anyone to eat some of this sauerkraut and tell me it's not delicious. Sauerkraut is also very practical, giving you vegetable intake from all of those cabbages you would otherwise not have eaten, for the duration of the winter, in addition to beneficial gut microbes, and all you do is salt the cabbage, put it in a barrel in the basement with a plate and a rock on it and leave it while it gains more deliciousness. "Acchh", as my (German farmer) grandfather would say.
posted by nTeleKy at 12:22 PM on May 13, 2013 [1 favorite]


Someone asked about it above, I think the other article on Germans and poop was this Vanity Fair piece, "It's the Economy, Dumkopf":

"Published in 1984 by a distinguished anthropologist named Alan Dundes, Life Is Like a Chicken Coop Ladder set out to describe the German character through the stories that ordinary Germans liked to tell one another. Dundes specialized in folklore, and in German folklore, as he put it, “one finds an inordinate number of texts concerned with anality. Scheisse (shit), Dreck (dirt), Mist (manure), Arsch (ass).… Folksongs, folktales, proverbs, riddles, folk speech—all attest to the Germans’ longstanding special interest in this area of human activity.”

He then proceeded to pile up a shockingly high stack of evidence to support his theory. There’s a popular German folk character called der Dukatenscheisser (“The Money Shitter”), who is commonly depicted crapping coins from his rear end. Europe’s only museum devoted exclusively to toilets was built in Munich. The German word for “shit” performs a vast number of bizarre linguistic duties—for instance, a common German term of endearment was once “my little shit bag.” The first thing Gutenberg sought to publish, after the Bible, was a laxative timetable he called a “Purgation-Calendar.” Then there are the astonishing number of anal German folk sayings: “As the fish lives in water, so does the shit stick to the asshole!,” to select but one of the seemingly endless examples."

posted by nTeleKy at 12:46 PM on May 13, 2013


Everyone's already following @NeinQuarterly, oder?
posted by muckster at 3:03 PM on May 13, 2013


nTeleKy : Also, I challenge anyone to eat some of this sauerkraut and tell me it's not delicious.

Seconded. Bubbies counts as the single best mass-produced sauerkraut on the market.

Sadly, the American consumer has completely lost touch with just about everything we (I use "we" loosely there) traditionally pickled via fermentation, instead making due with all this crap simply soaked in salty vinegar. Then you try a real fermented sauerkraut, or even something as common as a dill pickle, and BAM! Your mouth will never accept the likes of Vlassic again.
posted by pla at 3:32 PM on May 13, 2013


14. SAY WHAT YOU MEAN
Oh man. I dated a US woman of German descent and oh my god was she ever straight up. It was incredibly jarring at the first but I grew to really love it; you absolutely knew it if you bought her a hat and it wasn't her color or style, none of those "polite" lies which are lies nonetheless. With Ann it came right to the edge of being mean but I don't think it crossed over it. It took me a while to be able to get on with women that I dated after Ann and I split the blanket, I'd say "Hey, did you keep the receipt for that sweater you bought me for my birthday? I want to return it and get something that doesn't totally suck." and they'd get upset.

Ann was the most orderly person I've ever known. I don't even know where the stamps are, here, I sortof know that they're in that drawer over there, with the envelopes, but Ann knew where the stamps were and how many she had. Stamps are just a way of saying it though; she was like that about every facet of her life; every bill was paid, every I was dotted, every T was crossed. She moved from one home to another and within like an hour or two she was totally, completely, utterly moved in, picking lint off the top of the fridge maybe. No kidding.

She was so tight that she couldn't shit, she really was bound up a lot of the time and no, I'm not kidding; we laughed about it but it was true.

And rules. Omigod. One time we were bopping around, like Sunday afternoon or something, and she had to pee, bad, and no place to be seen, I told her to pull into that gas station there, that even though the gas station is closed the door to the john might be unlocked, and it was, and it was a source of amazement to her that I'd even think that way; she would never even have considered it. We had fun.

I could never sleep -- I still have trouble with that -- yet I had to get up early for work, so I always had to turn the alarm up real loud, and once I forgot and it was on her side of the bed on the floor and it went off BEEEEEOOOOP !!! BEEEEEOOOOP !!! BEEEEEOOOOP !!! BEEEEEOOOOP !!! BEEEEEOOOOP !!! BEEEEEOOOOP !!! BEEEEEOOOOP !!! and she was about hanging from the ceiling. It really got to her. I apologized -- I didn't mean it, I truly just forgot about it totally -- I apologized but I'm pretty sure it started her day off wrong.

One time after she stayed at my place, next morning we're on Memorial Drive heading into Houston, she's following me, for fun I turn on the left turn signal and after a couple of seconds turned on the right turn signal and then the flashers and then the left turn signal and the right again, and on and on -- she literally had to pull off the road, pulled over to the side of the road and sat there. Probably she wondered instinctively why policemen didn't come and make me be different. I pulled over too, of course -- turned my flashers on, which probably about killed her -- and walked back to her car, to say hi and stuff; boy, was she mad.

It was something, how mad she'd get.

She was a psychotherapist when we were dating but she had been a seventh grade math teacher, and I'm pretty much a seventh grader and I don't get math and I never did homework, either. She was all dressed up in the clothes of a therapist and healer but pretty much she was still a seventh grade math teacher; I was all dressed up in a suit and tie, working downtown as a mainframe computer programmer but I was still pretty much a mope.

I've only dated one other German woman and it was a disaster but at least she never pretended to be a therapist, so there's that.

Probably I ought not date any more German gals.
posted by dancestoblue at 5:20 PM on May 13, 2013 [5 favorites]


If someone invented insurance insurance, an insurance against not having the right insurance, we’d all be treated to the sight of 80 million people dying of happiness.

I'm cackling.


80 million people +1. I'd happily pay for this insurance insurance.
posted by hapax_legomenon at 1:07 PM on May 28, 2013


« Older South Bank, home to skateboarding in central Londo...  |  May 9 was the grand opening of... Newer »


This thread has been archived and is closed to new comments