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Sunday, November 3, 2013

Second Mother Tongue

germans speak such good english it's annoying


(Edit note: I changed "Buxtehude" to "Hinterupfingen" thanks to the suggestions of polite readers. That does not include you, Spiteful Stevie)

70 comments:

  1. This is so true :D

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    1. True and sad...for us German learners.

      One time I went on Verbling to find a German native speaker who wanted to practice their English...no one. Not one person. NO ONE!

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    2. I find this to be simply not true. I lived in Hamburg for a year and in the whole of that time, I only met one person who actually had some knowledge of English, even young people in their 20's. Stereotypes will sadly prevail. At least I learned German! :)

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    3. This made me laugh. I lived in Germany for eleven years and at first I knew a lot of Germans whose English was better than my German, and so it was difficult to practice. My solution was to strike up conversations with other foreigners, often restaurateurs -- Spaniards, Serbians -- who were sympathetic and patient with my mistakes. As time went on, and my German improved, Germans who knew English would let me speak German. Of course I encountered plenty of Germans who didn't know English, but in my field there are so many who do that this cartoon definitely brought back memories. My husband, who's in IT, didn't speak have to speak German at work for some time (in Stuttgart). We left in 1996 and already I was encountering a lot more Germans who knew no English at all since they had had to learn Russian in school.

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  2. Yes, I felt the same way in Berlin.

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  3. Try that little hut in the Swiss Alps, I am sure the words of Chaucer and Shakespeare haven't reached him...yet :D

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    1. Well, the Swiss are an entirely different creature. We can grant them three mother languages, that's quite sufficient

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    2. And so are the Belgians, was there in German speaking part of Belgium and could understand nothing :/

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  4. Hey, how about you go and visit maps.google.de - search for "Buxtehude". Oh ja, da gibt es gar keine Berge und Schnauzbärte - das ist eher am Meer, total flaches Land da draussen.
    Yes, Germany isn't all "cities" and "Bavaria"....

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    1. Hey Steve! Thanks for coming to the site and bringing your spite along with you. Do you mind if I call you Spiteful Steven?

      Well, Spiteful Steven (if that IS your real name), I recently asked on Itchy Feet's Facebook page what the German word for "Nowhereseville" is, or its equivalent. My good friend, a GERMAN PERSON, responded that ""Buxtehude" has become an idiomatic name for a small, secluded village," despite the fact that it actually exists.

      Check it out yourself! You can take the matter up with him! - https://www.facebook.com/itchyfeetcomic?ref=hl

      Also, Wikipedia mentions that Buxtehude is a town in a Brother's Grimm tale, and so the town's name has taken on a fairy-tale meaning. Take a look with your face! - http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Buxtehude

      So thanks, Spiteful Steven, for adding to the conversation with your pleasant discourse! I AM SO HAPPY TO HAVE SPOKEN WITH YOU ABOUT THIS CIVILLY!!!!!

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    2. And one more link - the proverbial nail in your coffin, Stevie my man:

      http://www.duden.de/rechtschreibung/Buxtehude

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    3. The Duden page states that it is "veraltet" meaning its getting uncommon to use it in this meaning.
      Buxtehude really implies those northern German stereotypes, but for a village in the Bavarian outbacks I would have used "Hintertupfingen". That just sounds more Bavarian and as such more fitting to context.

      Anyhow you are still right, but German is always more complex than one can imagine :)

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    4. Hm, now I'm conflicted! I could change it in the comic without a problem, but then all of these conversation would be rendered irrelevant ... I do like "Hintertupfingen," though!

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    5. Steve the not so SpitefulNovember 4, 2013 at 1:04 PM

      Jones that is. Steve Jones :) And as I've been raised in the very north of Germany, for me it never occured that the Place I knew called "Buxtehude" was ever a synonym for "nowheresville". We used to call your Nowherevilles "Hintertupfingen". Check it out: http://de.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hintertupfingen

      Anyway, I know what you wanted to say. So know put on your Cowboy-Hat, take your horse and go shoot something with your revolver - cause that's what all you americans do, isn't it? ;)

      (See, it's just these prejudices about germany which bug me).

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    6. All right, Steve Jones. Due to many other peoples' suggestions, I'm changing it to Hintertupfingen, so I hope you're happy! Now please take your attitude somewhere else, I don't want it on my site.

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    7. Steve the not so SpitefulNovember 6, 2013 at 1:40 PM

      Victory! But with a poisened taste :/ Let me buy you a beer next time I'm in Berlin - I'll even talk to you in deutsch the whole evening, I promise.

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    8. May I kindly suggest that "Hintertupfingen" is rather westgerman? In the east it would be "Kleinfinstenich" (literally translated as "little not-to-be-found"). Being from Rhineland-Palatinate I was introduced to this name by my friends from Saxony-Anhalt.

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    9. Warum bist Du so gemein zu Steve? Er hatte doch genau recht und er hat es ja nicht böse gemeint. Das Bild ist doch deutlich in Bayern und Buxtehude ist, wie jeder Deutsche weiß, nicht.
      Maybe if the cartoon would not use the stereotype Germany = Bavaria, nobody would have had a reason to complain. Personally, I would like Steve to remain part of future discussion. He raised a valuable point! No need to get all spiteful.

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    10. Das stimmt, ich war sauer! Es tut mir leid! Steve and I are beste Freunde now.

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  5. Well, maybe it depends on the location. When we (town near Berlin) talk about somewhere "am Arsch der Welt", then it's Buxtehude. So, for me it made perfect sense how you described it. Keep on with the great work!

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    1. Steve the not so SpitefulNovember 4, 2013 at 1:07 PM

      I've lived in Berlin - never heard that. But then, I've only met expats and wessis there. Maybe Ossis call it Buxtehude. ;)

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    2. Cool! This discourse is helping me with my German, and in an oh-so-entertaining way!

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  6. I know your pain :D
    I'm brazilian and my girlfriend is german. I speak german (C1) and she speaks portuguese (B2) but we communicate in english most of the time. I'm really glad to try to talk to her in portuguese when she wants and I have all the patience in the world to teach her, but when it comes to speaking german... she gets quickly impatient and switches back to english :D
    I'm glad that at least I have her parents to talk in german... and her shy friends who know english but don't have the guts to speak :p

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    1. Yeah I had this problem with my Italian girlfriend - she didn't want to speak Italian with me until my Italian was good enough that it didn't frustrate her when we spoke. Actually, come to think of it, it still frustrates her. Maybe that's why now we speak German!

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  7. @Steve Jones: I am from Kalamazoo, Michigan, in the US. Growing up, I thought nothing of it, but when I ventured away from home as an adult (I joined the US Navy), I quickly learned that many people throughout the nation thought Kalamazoo to be the home of goblins and dragons and fairies. It was a place parents told their kids they would send them if they misbehaved. I understand your sentiment about Buxtehude!

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    1. Wow! Next you'll be telling me Timbuktu is a real place...

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    2. But Timbuktu is a real place, it is nearby Mali, Africa. It holds precious library of knowledge, which if you paid attention lately, a group of Extremist tied to Al Qaeda burnt the library down just some months ago.

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    3. Sorry, it is actually in Mali. Pardon my weak memory :D

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    4. NO WAY! Next you'll be telling me Chicago is a real place!

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    5. :D Kalamazoo...learning something new every day. My daughter is 6 Month old, I'll teach here Kalamazoo is the place where only the nicest goblins and dragons come from ;)
      Cheers! Steve

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    6. Ha! I thought that Kalamazoo was where cereal comes from. Of course, I'm biased because I'm from Michigan ;)

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  8. For all of you looking to practice your German...come to Hannover. Most Germans here are shy about their English so they all prefer my stumbling Deutsch!

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    1. This comment has been removed by the author.

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    2. Hannover... the best place in Germany to learn pure Deutsch :)..p.s. i've lived in Buxtehude for 7 months .. the best memories ever

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    3. Hey my family lives in Hannover! Grüße an die alte Heimat :D

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    4. Isn't it better to practice German just before you have a Hangover...?

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  9. A friend recommended that an English speaker always carry around a phrase like "Jag talar inte engelska" to turn the conversation back to German.

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    1. Very interesting. However, why would that make anyone want to speak German? Hint: Most Germans would take that as a sign they won't be able to have any kind of interesting conversation with you.

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  10. Hi, I love your comics but an an English person it irritates me that you've left the UK's flag off your banner since your speak English but included the US flag.

    Don't worry about it too much though - I'm just strange like that but if you're ever in the mood to change it don't forget us (and it is quite colourful so it wouldn't be too boring either!!); also if there's a reason you've forgotten it then completely ignore me!

    :)

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    1. Hello Anonymous,

      Originally when I designed the flag, it was meant to reflect my upbringing - born in Switzerland, grew up in the USA, now I live in Germany. The rest were chosen at random.

      Good point though, and I usually don't use the US flag. I use the British flag to signify English in this comic: http://www.itchyfeetcomic.com/2012/09/default-language.html#.UnfZr5TwIz0

      I've been meaning to change the banner anyway. I'm going to make it reflect more language-based flags, rather than travel ones. Thanks for the input!

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  11. Heyy just to improve it a bit... in germany we wouldnt say:"ach du meine güte" anymore thats something my grandparents would say... we would rather say something like:"Das kann doch nicht wahr sein" or " Das gibt es nicht" :)

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    1. Nope, not in the majority of Germany anyway. Might be a far south thing :-)

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    2. How about "Oh, Ach, Güte Gott meine Gottes Himmels Güte!" ?

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    3. "Jag talar inte engelska" - Okay. take this guys:

      "Um Himmels willen !"
      "Gütiger Gott !"
      "Gott im Himmel !" (Far south ? Well, if you thing Stuttgart is "far south" ...)
      "Ach Du lieber Gott !" (as "old" as "Ach Du meine Güte")
      "[Ach] Herrrje !"

      Enough of the heavens for now. Let's continue with a little bit of "Ach ..."
      [Genug mit dem ganzen Himmel jetzt. Machen wir weiter mit ein bisschen "Ach ..."]

      "Ach du grüne Neune !"
      "Ach du Schande !"
      "Ach Du meine Güte"
      and - sorry for that [und - entschuldigung dafür]:
      "Ach du [meine] Scheiße !"

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  12. Could you please include a link to that comic where the other guy pretends not to speak German just to embarass you? Just for reference, you know ...

    Thanks.

    Oh yeah. Both can be true, actually.

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    1. You mean this one?

      http://www.itchyfeetcomic.com/2013/03/self-preservation.html

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  13. Any German guy my age would just scream, "Fuck!". But you'd get by with "Scheiße!" or "verdammte Axt!" as well. Milder options are "Heimatland!", "Jesses!", "Herr helf zerr'!" (only in greater Würzburg) or, my personal favourite, "Karl, mei' Troppe!".

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  14. I am with Steve and believe that most people in the north of Germany know that Buxtehude isn't too far from Hamburg. And like him I object to Germany being represented as Bavaria in the Anglo-Saxon world.

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    1. I object to your objection, so I guess that evens out

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  15. Same happened to me in both Italy and Spain :-) but I have a trick: "scusami, ma io non parlo l'inglese...." (sorry, i do not speak English....) It works. Of course, I am not an English native, so my accent does not betray me.

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    1. Yeah that's a good idea. I should start saying "Uhhh...es tut mir leid, aber ich spreche gar kein English!" I'm just not sure anyone would buy it...

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  16. The trick is to speak German with a Swiss accent -- they will bend over backwards to speak proper 'Hoch Deutsch' then so that they can make fun of you...

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    1. That's an excellent trick! Now to find a Swiss person to impersonate...

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    2. Try imitating the Swiss comedian Emil. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9C725VvxGX4

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  17. I have found the best way to learn is just go to a pub/bar or beer garden and make friends. You speak German as they speak English. You will have a lot of fun and both of you will learn much. I learned so much about the German culture and the correct syntax of many phrases. It was a great help for both proper syntax and confidence. My German friends and family were amazed of how fast I learned to speak in just a week of partying.

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    1. Yes, I have observed the effects of partying on language ability, and the results are very positive!

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  18. Ich sage nicht, land des Besserwissers, weil

    (grammar check. BW+Genitive, oder?!?!? ;)
    + clause * VERB!

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  19. I cannot confirm wether this is true or not, seeing as I have never done an exchange in Germany, but in Denmark we are forced to learn the german language in school, and when germans come to visit Denmark, they will never settle with English. NEVER.
    Source: I worked in a danish zoo, kitchen supply- and a sports store.

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  20. Ever looked down upon for being an English native? Some Europeans I've met tend to see it as below their native tongue. I really wish they took something else so English would be kept to the Isles only and wouldn't be this weird globish esperanto.

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  21. Wow, Mr. Comicstrip, who is having an attitude here? Somebody commented about an obvious fact of no mountains etc. in Buxtehude and you totally freak out. Way to make you look cool.

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    1. It's true, I was an arsch, that's no way for Mr. Comicstrip to behave! But I apologized and I've learned the error of my ways. Can even you, Dara, find it in your heart of hearts to forgive me?

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  22. hey Rempen, I just wanna ask you this small question: are they peanuts?

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    1. You know, you're the very first person who ever asked what the characters are! Peanuts is a really good guess. They kind of look nut-ish, don't they?

      Originally, in the very early days of the comic (like here), they were supposed to be body organs. The main guy was a spleen, and I had eyeballs, hearts, pancreas, kidneys, etc, etc.

      But as I went on, that made less sense, so now they're just odd-shaped folk.

      I hope that answers your question!

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    2. spleen? lololololol~

      I always thought he is you and he is a peanut!!!!!!! but good to know he's actually a spleen lol :v

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  23. I agree with the tip of not trying too hard to imitate the way of speaking. Aside from it's annoying, I think it will just blow their chances. Thanks for sharing.

    listenting task

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  24. The tips that you give are all good. It can help a certain student to improve their writing skills in English. Also, in that way, it may lead them in to a good writer who can write well in English language.

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  25. speaking is important as writing. But for a non native speaker, if you'll stick yourself on the rule to communicate with native speaker, you'll find in disappointing and frustrating.

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  26.  I appreciate language learning experiences. The fact that i read so much, and so profoundly, demonstrates the high level of your English. '

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  27. Learning a new language effortlessly can be a unique experience for the learners, as it takes lots of patience and hard work to get adopted with an acquired language.

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