German Stereotypes

Kraft Klub (German band)

For foreigners

Germans are well aware that foreigners have tendencies to see them in certain ways.  Which region of the world they are dealing with has some influence of how they are seen.

They know that people to the West of Germany, especially French and English speaking peoples tend to jump to certain conclusions.  Some right, others wrong.

  1.  Germans are frightening powerful yet unpleasant and speak a difficult language that native speakers of English wouldn’t wish upon their worst enemies….except maybe the Germans (ha ha ?)
  2.  NaZi ism.  This is related to item #1, but also involves the perpetuation in the USA at least where there are very old Jewish people who’s native language is either German or Polish, who have American grandchildren.  They moved due to the NaZi Party.

3. Still related: in the USA for propaganda reasons, the vast majority of information        that Americans get about the Germans and the German language is WW2 re-runs.  Due to this most Americans only know a few German words they learned while watching WW2 related documentaries or TV shows or movies.

4.  Frau und frauline:  Germany is full of happy, blonde women with large breasts who serve beer for a living, at least until they get married and have children.

There are people who have a more current image of Germany.  In 2012 it was rated the most popular European country, internationally.

True Stuff about Germans

They can be rather serious, mostly because the Summer is not that warm and people can be hard.   German is not that easy to speak but when German there is no choice if one hopes to get anywhere in life.

Germans do tend to be proud but sometimes also uniquely sensitive.  They know that if they were not so great and powerful they would not be and have been so dominant in Europe both in peace time and in war time.  They know that both North American nations and the Russians viewed them as “the Villain” in 2 world wars.  Because of what they have been through as a people, they also feel that the nation degenerated to having been a menace for awhile….but Germans and what is Germany is really much more complicated….Given that the modern “German state” is about 120 years old, but there have been German speaking people living in the same region for 2000 years and more.  In fact, the “First Reich” really was 1000 years of Germany being a Catholic Empire and simultaneously the remainder of the Western Roman Empire.  *Personally, despite having learned this I find it hard to break through the American-Hollywood images of the Romans and of the Germans to accept this basic truth.

Germans have poor sense of humor.  Well, they don’t have the gentlest or most consistent senses of humor but I can assure you that they are less likely to laugh at jokes in English when travelling outside of Germany and dealing with using their “holiday English”.   I’m sure there are numerous incidents in which some German didn’t get the joke.

administration architecture berlin building

Photo by Ingo Joseph on Pexels.com

Pop Culture – Transcultural: why does that character sound like that?

During the years in Germany I have watched more films and TV that were either made in German or a different language other than English than ever before. I think before then, I had only seen the film “The gods must be crazy” as I was not ever a big foreign films buff.

There are a few factors involved with cross cultural mass media. One issue for mass media is dubbing and translation. So far, what I have found has been that when I see and hear a Hollywood movie with German dubbing on that I never saw in English, the dubbing is weird for me but only because I am not German. Or so I think. However, once I know the original it becomes clear that the dubbed voices are not the ones that seem to really belong to the characters.

There is at least one German voice, sadly his voice is not all that impressive, which gets a lot of work dubbing German for the movies. I am now able to recognize that man’s voice as I have heard it in many Hollywood movies when German dubbing is on. I have no idea what his name is or what he looks like but hope it pays decently and am impressed that he has been able to get a lot of work that way.

When the alternatives are Japanese, Norwegian, or Chinese or Turkish, I tend to enthusiastically select German although I did watch some Norwegian and a couple of years ago I heard Tibetan on YouTube and felt German was only slightly less confusing but did not sound as good to me.

When the alternative is English I will pick that most of the time but choose German enough to help me to continue to improve my German especially as my neighbors need me to speak German if we are to understand one another in daily conversation.

I studied Spanish in school having not foreseen ever needing more than about 10 words of German in my entire life, even though I have been planning and expecting to live to about 85 years +/- 5 years unless bad fortune or bonus good longevity make it otherwise. I did also study some Latin & French and have learned at least one word of 23 languages so far, but now I know more German than Spanish.

Life sometimes does that to people. Sometimes people are allowed to have the plans they make actually work and other times Life or other people or their inner saboteur makes peoples’ lives unlike what they had had in mind for themselves.

Butterfly Season on the Autobahn 2013

Right before I began to write today’s post I checked to see some of who the system identified as having read and commented.  That reminded me to remind you – each of you, that I am glad you bothered to read it and glad when you like what I have blogged. 

Today is one of those days when I did a whole bunch of stuff in the way of my nationality and then I did some stuff that shows I have adapted to where I am. 

My lifestyle over here in Europe is very quiet and feels small.  Because of that, one of the big deals of the day was that for the second time since being granted the Germany based Intl. driving license, I drove on the Autobahn.  I was not one of the high speed drivers on the Autobahn but just toodling along with the German drivers I used speeds that cause immediate loss of the American driving license on USA roads unless you can afford very powerful attorneys to let you keep it. 

From this we see that I have adapted to “those crazy Germans”.  The real key to understand is that they drive more slowly – not quickly, in their villages, and then make up for that difference on the freeways.  That includes the half of the story they didn’t tell me when I was in America “before Germany”.

German Idealism and on old wagon as a collector’s item.

Here in the neighborhood, around two street corners actually, someone looks to have bought or been given an old wagon.  It is a really nice 19th century looking type of wagon – made to use with a horse or two.  Tall wooden wheels with metal rims and everything – at one time this may have been the latest upgraded model going.  The owner has another collector’s item old car from the 20th century.  Whoever lives there drives a late 20th century model or early 21st century car. 

Here’s the thing.  Two of my favorite German philosophers lived and wrote what I learned when the train and that wagon with the great wooden wheels built to be pulled by a horse or two were the latest high tech forms of transport going.  Anybody got an oil lamp?  It’s German Idealism. 

Take a peak and what I still have hanging around from graduate school.  If something along the same lines with more of a pop culture feel appeals to you, please buy http://www.amazon.com/Five-Big-Questions-Life-answer/dp/1617208647/ref=sr_1_1?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1362508185&sr=1-1&keywords=Five+Big+Questions+in+Life  Which is a clever little book with one compact chapter covering each of the five main branches of philosophy without technical jargon.

Yikes – what happened?

[looks flustered] Sorry all of you about last night – your yesterday if you are in North America.  In truth, I hardly used the Internet at all compared to some days and then I became engrossed with other activities.  I remembered when I went to bed, but decided to hold off on blogging again until the next day.  I felt bad about it only because it gives me so much hope that you are reading this and that more than one of you are a fairly regular or very consistent reader.

What I can tell you is that I actually really worked on a Gezka & Kiel novel.  This is easy in some ways and very challenging in other ways because in actual fact I wrote the first 2 drafts of this novel when I was 20 to 22 years old.  I will now turn 45 in just 3 weeks and I am still needing to get these novels out.  I attribute the majority of the delay to my communication problems – asking for help from funders, and to the devastation of my first big experience with cohabitation and marriage.  That relationship being ruined destabilized my life terribly.  What I can tell you is that all I did was manage to quit smoking cigarettes for a few days and all Hell began to break loose.

Today, my son is here.  We are between Christmas and New Year’s.  I have not completely learned how Germans open and close stores in relation to these holidays.  Yesterday I went out thinking maybe they had reopened, but they had not.  However, I know that they will be open some of the days between these holidays but don’t know.  In truth, the obvious thing to do is either go out exploring and find out or knock on a neighbor’s door and ask and learn it.  This is one of those situations where I feel a little awkward because even though that is clearly the correct answer, I probably will not even handle it that way.

Yesterday I did read in German, but it was literally a tiny children’s book about hedgehogs.  I have learned more, and have devised a fairly practical self-education program.  When I have learned enough of it, I will sign up to take the government’s test for a specific level.  I have learned the TELC language level codes.  Before 2011 or so, I did not know that.

Hope you are all having a wonderful day.  Learning how and where to provide talks and book signings here in Germany to market the books should be both fun and challenging.  English books for sale by American author who speaks conversational level German but isn’t really fluent.  [strange smile, but not as bad as the one Wednesday Addams had to find after having been subjected to like 18 hours of Disney films in the Happy Hut for having been a downer to the other campers and staff at Summer Camp].