German Yous

In most respects I strongly prefer English to German but as I have been learning German I am happy to report that it does have a few charms.

One of German’s charms are the new opportunities for personal expression that the multiple forms of ‘you’ allow.  Some of the dissimilarity is misleading but despite that having ‘sie’ and ‘du’ – both of which translate as ‘you’, creates new options.  In simple and general terms the formal you and the plural you are both ‘sie’.  In simple terms, the informal familiar you is ‘du’.

On a personal level this has allowed me to review various levels of meaning and also nuances.  In some cases ‘du’ really means ‘friends and family’ but in other cases it means ‘you who are younger than I am’ .  In a radically different appearance ‘du’ is used more like ‘comrade’ was used as part of socialist and communist workers revolutions.  Often enough people who think they are helping improve life urge others to just use ‘du’ in speaking but mainly they mean ‘if we are on the same hierarchical level at work’ or ‘so that I don’t get confused about how to conjugate my verbs every time we have a conversation at work’.

Most Germans born before 1960 and many born before 1970 tend to call anyone older ‘sie’ and anyone younger ‘sie’ and really – general politeness in Germany dictates that everyone is ‘sie’ until there is a decision – a social choice, of allowing others to call one ‘du’ instead.  In practice it is a lot like whether or not one calls someone else Sir or Madam or Mr. or Ms. Such-n-Such, or by their first name.

I have already noticed that I don’t agree with everyone else about how to use each, but m personal expression disagreement covers only 10 – 20% of social cases.  It is not from suffering from a lack of grammatical knowledge at this point.

In truth I think I had an entirely different idea for today’s blog post and it had nothing to do with Germany or my transcultural experience, but it flitted away with a change in the song I was listening to or something.  I have no idea whether or not it will come again.


Woman supporting the German football team - stock photo

Kaleidescopic Autumnal 2013 in a German Village

Well, Saxony.  From where I come from, it seemed like a mythical place trapped in time.  Around here it is just a human settlement done mainly in brick and farming where the people are not very outgoing, but if you approach them they will usually give you a straight answer in the German language.  If you speak German it is clear that they are being clear but if you don’t it mainly sounds like they are coughing or about to spit even when in good health.  That’s actually just what German sounds like.   So, this is contemporary Saxony.  Most live in cities, but I have become ‘a horse petter’ as I am in the countryside.   That wasn’t even my own horse, just one of the locals.

Horses, if you didn’t know, are very curious about the odors to be found on bicycles.  They are very curious about them or interested, or see them as a plot against horse back riding but less dangerous than cars.  I don’t know the horse point of view, so I can only speculate.

Writing contracts:  Like so many professions there can be a lot of money in it, but for the majority of people there isn’t.  Most writers who earn a decent living do so in one of the two following ways:  1) they have a day job, or 2) they are in house writers who write lots of pieces their management told them to write because management has to produce enough stuff to make the business earn money and the way to do that is to let the writers write some pieces they like and make the writers do a lot of writing they don’t want to do at all but will do it because they want to pay their bills and not be fired by their management.

Then there are the ones who actually get enough pay doing it how they prefer.  Such people are either very generous or exceptionally adept at finding the paying projects much like the better fishermen really get better results.  There are also those who do get enough work but it never pays well.  Such people are often like all of the other working poor who at least get low pay and meager livings doing something they like alright rather than bad pay for work they have to do even though they don’t like it. 

I think that sums that up nicely.  If it seemed to you as if the horse sniffed  your bicycle, that is probably what really happened.