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Crossed Languages

Since my computer decided to take a few days unscheduled leave (it turned itself off), I had some time to digest the end of the World Cup and come to terms with it all. And, this will sound trite but there it is, I feel like it doesn’t matter that much that Germany came in third because Germans did win after all.

The whole World Cup was a smashing success for Germany: the world got to see a completely different, positive side of Germans, Germany got to revel in its own big happy party, and the cosmopolitan, optimistic Germans had a chance to emerge into the public view and assert their existence.

And I love that the German national team’s third place win against Portugal was greeted by German fans as though they had won the entire World Cup. That’s the spirit.

The other thing I really love about the whole World Cup thing is how all these people from different countries had a chance to intermingle, actually meet “those foreigners” (and do it peacefully for the most part), root for each others’ teams, get drunk together, and try valiantly to communicate. Like so:
German, English, or what?

I applaud the effort, even if it went knapp daneben. [This picture came from a reader of Der Spiegel‘s witty German language column Zwiebelfisch, which I heartily recommend to those interested in the foibles and misuses of the German language. Be warned, it’s in German.]

I grew up speaking both English and German, and I am of the firm opinion that speaking more than one language (and to my mom, yes I know I should be able to speak at least one or two more, but I’m just not there yet) broadens the mind. But more importantly, it opens up a whole landscape of hilarious miscommunications, misunderstandings and horrible punning across two cultures.

Sadly, I rarely get the opportunity to share the stories of crossed wires of communication I have collected in the German-English realm. If you have any, feel free to drop me a line.

And if the above picture means nothing to you but bad English, I urge you to learn German so you too can make literal translations that come almost close but fall horribly wide of the mark.


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