Why can't I speak German???????
April 17, 2015 4:07 AM   Subscribe

What happens when an English reporter live blogs from a German press conference. The Telegraph newspaper sends reporter Ben Bloom to Germany to live blog the resignation of Jurgen Klopp as the manager of Borussia Dortmund football club. Reading from the bottom of the page upwards, at 12:37 it dawns on Bloom that the press conference is in German, which he doesn't understand. Panic and embarrassment levels rise rapidly. Luckily, he becomes an internet phenomenon.
posted by milkb0at (46 comments total) 13 users marked this as a favorite
 
"Klopp has finished speaking and we have just heard from a chap with a lovely slicked back hairstyle. Although most hairstyles look lovely to me."

I feel your pain, Ben.
posted by pseudocode at 4:14 AM on April 17, 2015 [7 favorites]


Poor Ben Bloom. He's trying so hard not to be come an internet phenomenon, but it keeps backfiring on him! I know this because his "I'm a reluctant internet phenomenon" posts are all linked from his other journalistic posts - right at the top, so you can't miss it. He's really tying, guys! Have a heart!

Ben Bloom Internet Phenomenon T-Shirts | Ben Bloom Internet Phenomenon Mugs | Ben Bloom Internet Phenomenon Etsy Store
posted by sidereal at 4:16 AM on April 17, 2015 [5 favorites]




I do love the frantic gif he posted on the live blog when the whole nightmare was through.
posted by angrycat at 4:34 AM on April 17, 2015


Don't blame me, I was a Rassilon man.
posted by Mezentian at 4:35 AM on April 17, 2015


Maybe this ought to be in a sort of canon of Liveblog Classics, in which case I would like to submit for your consideration Paolo Bandini's timeless play-by-play (by play by...) of the Longest Match:
What's going on here? Once, long ago, I think that this was a tennis match. I believe it was part of a wider tennis tournament, somewhere in south-west London, and the winner of this match would then go on to face the winner of another match and, if he won that, the winner of another match. And so on until he reached the final and, fingers crossed, he won the title.

That, at least, is what this spectacle on Court 18 used to be; what it started out as. It's not that anymore and hasn't been for a few hours now. I'm not quite sure what it is, but it is long and it's horrifying and it's very long to boot. Is it death? I think it might be death.

42 games all.
posted by goodnewsfortheinsane at 4:53 AM on April 17, 2015 [19 favorites]


I'll have you know that Punjabi is the future language of the future of business.
posted by robocop is bleeding at 5:14 AM on April 17, 2015 [11 favorites]


I'm afraid the questions are just as German as the answers.

Ich habe geLOLt.
posted by Rock Steady at 5:14 AM on April 17, 2015 [16 favorites]


It's hard to believe that anyone going to Germany to attend a press conference on the retirement of a German football manager from a German team would be surprised that it was in German. Or that the organization sending him to that press conference neglected to mention this important little tidbit.

Can an "Internet phenomenon" be manufactured? Yes, and this is one way.
posted by tommasz at 5:27 AM on April 17, 2015 [11 favorites]


It reads to me like he was watching live video of the event and blogging it.

And I wish The Telegraph would do what the Guardian does, which is invert the liveblog to read-order chronology after the blogging is done.
posted by ardgedee at 5:32 AM on April 17, 2015 [7 favorites]


Another entry in the fine tradition of hapless British journalists suffering at German press conferences.
posted by Sonny Jim at 5:56 AM on April 17, 2015 [3 favorites]


Wovon man nicht sprechen kann, darüber muss man schweigen.
posted by Segundus at 5:56 AM on April 17, 2015 [23 favorites]


Some guy watched a live stream of a thing in a language he didn't understand, cracked a few milquetoast jokes and now he's a "phenomenon". What a world we live in
posted by mrbigmuscles at 6:06 AM on April 17, 2015 [3 favorites]


Of course, chances are that he understood more of that press conference when they spoke German than he would have done if they had tried to speak English.
posted by effbot at 6:09 AM on April 17, 2015


Obviously he knew that Germans all speak English when there are no foreigners about, so he would have been fine if someone hadn't given the game away.
posted by Segundus at 6:17 AM on April 17, 2015 [1 favorite]


For what it's worth, apparently Ben Bloom thought he spoke German, or at least enough to understand the press conference:

--Right we have a slight issue... they are speaking in German and my GCSE in the subject isn't much help.

--I am going to email my old German teacher Dr Plow after this and apologise.


Having been That Idiot Who Thinks He Speaks French But Doesn't Really, I feel for him. "Oh, sure, I understand the language pretty well, so lemme see here OH JESUS SLOW DOWN I CAN'T FIGURE OUT THE WORDS OH MAN IS THAT ITALIAN OR FLEMISH OR oh god my french is terrible and what the hell was i thinking...

Fortunately, I was not liveblogging when this happened. Only my wife and a handful of Quebecois were present for my endoofusment.
posted by Harvey Jerkwater at 6:17 AM on April 17, 2015 [26 favorites]


Dr Plow

What's that name again?
posted by Mezentian at 6:21 AM on April 17, 2015 [28 favorites]


See, this is one of the few problems that having several drinks under your belt can solve. It's way easier to speak another language when you're drunk, and you don't care.
posted by sneebler at 6:22 AM on April 17, 2015 [2 favorites]


Klopp has just sat down to face the media... I'd love to tell you what Klopp is saying. He is saying a lot. But I can understand precisely none of it. Klopp has finished speaking and we have just heard from a chap with a lovely slicked back hairstyle. Klopp just cracked a gag and the entire press conference audience laughed. He's practically standing still and . . . HE'S BURST INTO FLAMES!! He’s burst into flames and he’s falling, he’s crashing! Watch it; watch it! Get out of the way! Get out of the way! Get this, Charlie! Get this, Charlie! It’s fire and it’s crashing! It’s crashing! Terrible! Oh, my! Get out of the way, please! He’s burning and bursting into flames and all the folks agree that this is terrible -- this is the one of the worst catastrophes in the world. Four or five hundred thousand tweets into the sky and it -- it’s a terrific crash, ladies and gentlemen. It’s smoke, and and flames now and the frame is crashing to the ground. OH, THE HUMANITY! And all the trolls screaming around here. I told you -- it -— I can’t even talk to German people, their friends are out there! Ah! It’s it it’s a ah! I I can’t talk German, ladies and gentlemen. Honest, I'm just laying here, a mass of smoking wreckage, and everybody can hardly breathe and talk . . . I’m sorry. Honest, I can hardly breathe. Charlie, that’s terrible. I -- Listen folks, I’m going to have to stop for a minute, because I’ve lost my GSCE German . . . This is the worst thing I’ve ever witnessed. . . .
posted by Herodios at 6:22 AM on April 17, 2015 [9 favorites]


Wenn ist das Nunstück git und Slotermeyer? Ja! Beiherhund das Oder die Flipperwaldt gersput!
posted by briank at 6:25 AM on April 17, 2015 [7 favorites]


doesn't matter; got pageviews
posted by stupidsexyFlanders at 6:25 AM on April 17, 2015 [2 favorites]


Having been That Idiot Who Thinks He Speaks French But Doesn't Really, I feel for him. "Oh, sure, I understand the language pretty well, so lemme see here OH JESUS SLOW DOWN I CAN'T FIGURE OUT THE WORDS OH MAN IS THAT ITALIAN OR FLEMISH OR oh god my french is terrible and what the hell was i thinking...
Fortunately, I was not liveblogging when this happened. Only my wife and a handful of Quebecois were present for my endoofusment.


The secret to french is realizing that everyone is either asking you for a light or calling you a whore.
posted by srboisvert at 6:35 AM on April 17, 2015 [11 favorites]


Having worked in publishing, I can imagine his editor thinking "hmm, ok, so his lack of German gets us pageviews, what other languages does he not speak so we can send him off to other foreign language press conferences . . . . "
posted by Blackanvil at 6:35 AM on April 17, 2015 [3 favorites]


Obviously he knew that Germans all speak English when there are no foreigners about, so he would have been fine if someone hadn't given the game away.

Actually, I find it a little surprising that something so internationally-known as the Bundesliga don't hold conferences in English or at least bilingually.
posted by Thing at 6:46 AM on April 17, 2015


There's not as much fun making somebody cover presos in Finnish or Hungarian or other language they're totally unfamiliar with. Then it's easier for the blogger to detach from the proceedings entirely and knowingly resort to metacommentary.

Instead, the secret is to assign journos to events where they have at best a couple years' schooling and a summer vacation in. Because then they've got enough of the language to have no excuse not to try, but not enough to succeed. That seems to be what's happened here.
posted by ardgedee at 6:47 AM on April 17, 2015 [3 favorites]


Hey, I don't speak German either!
posted by goatdog at 6:50 AM on April 17, 2015


Hey, I don't speak German either!

I don't speak German better than you don't speak German!
posted by Tomorrowful at 6:53 AM on April 17, 2015


The secret to french is realizing that everyone is either asking you for a light or calling you a whore.

Though it gets confusing when both are happening at the same time.
posted by kokaku at 7:06 AM on April 17, 2015 [1 favorite]


Taking pride in the belief that having studied a language at school has absolutely no bearing on one's ability to speak or understand it as an adult - seems to be a peculiarly British thing. Bloom would have taken classes in German for two years at 14-15. Somebody who had freshly completed a GCSE in German would probably not have the skills to understand a live press conference while blogging about it - but they should be able to read a press release and ask some basic questions.
posted by rongorongo at 7:09 AM on April 17, 2015 [1 favorite]


a handful of Quebecois

I think I see the problem...
posted by Slothrup at 7:21 AM on April 17, 2015 [4 favorites]


And that, in a nutshell, sums up just little use I have been over the past hour.
And yet he was able to sum it up nicely, leading me to wonder what the use of sports press conferences is.
posted by SLC Mom at 7:27 AM on April 17, 2015 [2 favorites]


I would like to submit for your consideration Paolo Bandini's timeless play-by-play (by play by...) of the Longest Match:

That was actually Xan Brooks subbing for him and the mefi thread on it is similarly glorious.
posted by poffin boffin at 8:02 AM on April 17, 2015 [6 favorites]


I must say I did take delight in his misfortune. But, there's no word for that now is there.
posted by goodnewsfortheinsane at 8:23 AM on April 17, 2015 [22 favorites]


That was actually Xan Brooks subbing for him and the mefi thread on it is similarly glorious.

Dammit, I did think the byline looked off but thought no more of it. Thanks!
posted by goodnewsfortheinsane at 8:26 AM on April 17, 2015


Actually, I find it a little surprising that something so internationally-known as the Bundesliga don't hold conferences in English or at least bilingually.

They may be internationally-known, but still they are a German organization - why should they inconvenience their core audience? Anybody who cares what they have to say can go learn some German, or hire an interpreter.
posted by Dr Dracator at 8:54 AM on April 17, 2015 [3 favorites]


"I assumed I could."
posted by Ratio at 9:32 AM on April 17, 2015 [1 favorite]


This seems way too pedestrian to be a made up thing as some are saying.
posted by josher71 at 9:41 AM on April 17, 2015




a handful of Quebecois
I think I see the problem...


Yeah, I'm going to go out on a limb and guess that you speak French just fine. Quebecois generally a) don't really speak French but something they made up that they call French, and b) wouldn't admit that they could understand you even if they could.
posted by Naberius at 9:56 AM on April 17, 2015 [5 favorites]


I'll have you know that Punjabi is the future language of the future of business.

CHAK DE PHATTE
posted by vanar sena at 10:28 AM on April 17, 2015


So I was in Germany a little while back and was charmed by the responses I got to "Do you speak English?" I generally find it impolite to go to someone's country and start jabbering at them in their non-native language, so I tend to ask. People who do speak English usually say "yes" or similar, but the Germans tended to say things like "sometimes" or "from time to time." It was great.

Anyway I'm on a ICE train and the power outlet at my seat isn't working. I ask one of the train crew about it, since sometimes there's a circuit breaker they can reset and I wasn't sure about the protocol of switching to another seat. He doesn't speak English and we go through a few rounds of not understanding each other. Finally he crosses his arms and boldly proclaims it "kaput!" I laugh; he laughs. More German beer is procured. A great time is had by all.
posted by zachlipton at 11:30 AM on April 17, 2015 [3 favorites]


Hey, that's my team!! I am unsurprised by the news. BvB Dortmund just had a TERRIBLE season.

As for Ben Bloom? Knucklehead. Yes, Bundesliga soccer is broadcast all over the world, but it's ridiculous to expect a press conference held by a German team, in Germany, to be in anything but German. Smack him with a trout and move on.
posted by MissySedai at 12:41 PM on April 17, 2015


I generally find it impolite to go to someone's country and start jabbering at them in their non-native language, so I tend to ask. People who do speak English usually say "yes" or similar, but the Germans tended to say things like "sometimes" or "from time to time." It was great.

According to Wikipedia, at 64% of a somewhat larger population Germany has nearly as many English speakers as the UK does.
posted by XMLicious at 2:51 PM on April 17, 2015 [2 favorites]


I moved to Birmingham, England and assumed I would be able to speak English with the locals. Dead yampy that wuz.
posted by srboisvert at 8:05 PM on April 17, 2015 [3 favorites]


Anyway I'm on a ICE train and the power outlet at my seat isn't working. I ask one of the train crew about it, since sometimes there's a circuit breaker they can reset and I wasn't sure about the protocol of switching to another seat. He doesn't speak English and we go through a few rounds of not understanding each other. Finally he crosses his arms and boldly proclaims it "kaput!" I laugh; he laughs. More German beer is procured. A great time is had by all.

As a teenager in 1986, I once shared a compartment on a German train with an elderly lady who spoke no English. The train line ran along side an autobahn for about 50 kilometres. I looked at the speeding cars and tried out a word I'd learned from dozens of war films "schnell!". She laughed and game me half of her sandwich to share as we started out of the window. Sometimes a it is possible to get by without a large vocabulary.
posted by rongorongo at 6:47 AM on April 18, 2015 [3 favorites]


Dutch and German are related, and I'm a native Dutch speaker. I also took German at school, and I usually have no problem understanding spoken German. I once went to a German-language performance of Shakespeare's Anthony and Cleopatra by a theatre company from Berlin. Given the above, as well as my familiarity with the play, I didn't expect to have any trouble following what was going on.

It turned out I was wrong. There was one guy who spoke standard German and I could understand him just fine, but unfortunately he only had a small part. Everyone else spoke, I assume, some Berlin / regional dialect that I found completely inpenetrable.

I don't know what kind of German Jurgen Klopp speaks, but yeah, this is a thing that happens.
posted by rjs at 9:36 AM on April 18, 2015


« Older How Super Angel Chris Sacca Made Billions, Burned...   |   HBO's Static Intro Newer »


This thread has been archived and is closed to new comments