Willkommen!!

Welcome to our class blog!  

We will be using this blog throughout the semester for two kinds of assignments:

1. Once per chapter, the homework plan will direct you to post a response to the culture readings for the chapter on the blog.

2. Roughly every other week, the homework plan will direct you to post here for your Abenteuer mit Deutsch (AMD) assignment. First you do a fun activity that involves German, then you post about it. You should spend an hour total on this (maybe 45-55 minutes doing something, 5-15 minutes posting about it). See Was ist ein AMD, AMD Ideen and Beispiele for ideas. This should get you excited about the kinds of things you can do!

Whenever you post something, please check the name of the assignment (e.g. AMD2, Kultur5) in the “Categories” list on the right. See “Blog: How To” for more details!

Kultur – Kapitel 6

I was surprised that I have never heard about Martin Luther before.  But after I read the article, I understand why.  Before came to the US, I had next to zero exposure to Bible and Christian.  However, since I am here, I have many nice friends who are Christian and I started to learn Bible a little bit, which I think is actually very interesting.  Back to this this article, it is amazing that Martin Luther’s significance went beyond religious, but also influenced German language, mentality and way of life.  I think I can somewhat understand it if thinking about the history of China.  We also have a famous person who reformed almost the entire society at that time.  Things changed after several decades have past, but his influence is still affecting every generation.

The “door culture” in Germany is really interesting, almost exactly at the opposite of America.  For any American who first comes to Germany without being aware of this cultural difference, he/she will totally feel confused.  Still I think the opening door makes more sense – it conveys a clear message and makes everyone’s life easier.

Previously, I knew that Japan has a strict and comprehensive garbage system.  Now I am wondering if there is any difference between Japan and Germany in terms of garbage.  Well, I do think that a garbage system like this is a good thing for the country.  However, it is very hard and challenging to adopt and change in the other countries.  From residents’ perspective, it might cause extra label reading and more chores.  But from a nation’s perspective, it contributes to a better and sustainable development.  I hope that we can have a similar garbage system one day in China, at least moving towards it.

Kultur 6

I found the article about Martin Luther to be interesting because it highlights again how history can influence modern culture, although various aspects, such as theological, may not be as present. And that’s really the significance of Martin Luther and the Reformation,

But the Reformation was not just about God. It shaped the German language, mentality and way of life.

I was particularly interested in Martin Luther’s ideas against ostentation, and how this influences not only German culture and values, but invariably the entire world. I love understated pieces from IKEA, and it was cool to learn where the simplicity came from. I also liked learning about the exception of ostentation, music. If I remember correctly, music, particularly classical music, was seen as something very upper-class in history. However, music’s role in German culture is not really described to be that of an extravagant display, but rather one that was an ally to Germany’s theological underpinnings.

The article about the closed-door culture struck me as a small detail that illustrates a contrast between German and American culture. I think about how freshman in college are encouraged to keep their doors open to meet new people, and how professors often have their office doors left open. I wonder if there is anything like that in Germany, and if not, whether they view this as a weird American thing.

The article about garbage culture in Germany pointed me back to the fact that Germany is very environmentally conscious, and again to the differences between American and German culture. Although in many ways I consider myself to be environmentally conscious, I catch myself freezing when trying to tell if my trash is compostable or not. It’s definitely a more complicated system it seems, but perhaps that is part of the makeup of a country that leads the way in environmental innovation.

AMD 6

For my last AMD, I tried something that many others have this semester—switching my Facebook from English to German. Facebook is something that I use very often, both personally and for work, so I thought that it would be something fun to try and slightly immerse myself in the German language.

I think that depending on when one does something like this while learning a language, it can be very interesting in different ways. Since I started German Facebook at the tail-end of this introductory semester, I found myself recognizing many things that we’ve learned in class. For example, much of the user interface of Facebook combines past tense, indefinite articles, and accusative case. “Andy Bui shared a photo” translates to Andy Bui hat ein Foto geteilt, and “Andy Bui shared a link” translates to Andy Bui hat einen Link geteilt. Dative case is also present, as you may show that you like a post by clicking the button gefällt mir.

Many of these commands were fairly easy to recognize because social media is supposed to be easy to use. The only places in which one could find slightly more complicated German would be in things like settings. Because I work at the university, I am prompted in my profile with Welche position hast du bei University of Michigan? Even where you would go to make a post—Was machst du gerade?

I’ve had Facebook set to German for almost a week now, actually, but I think that I won’t change it back to English. With how I use Facebook everyday, it doesn’t warrant complicated interactions, and I find that I have very little trouble navigating the interface.

Kultur 6 – Allie

As a pretty devout Catholic, the first article was pretty interesting to me, because I’ve grown up learning about Martin Luther’s break from the Catholic Church. Martin Luther’s 95 theses established the need for reform in the Catholic Church, but it also established the first Protestant church, somewhat by accident. I think it’s fascinating that Martin Luther’s way of thinking has influenced Germany in much more ways than religion. It explains their somewhat simplistic architecture and their love of classical orchestra concerts. I especially liked the part that explained why Germany has such a large book market – Luther wanted everyone to read the Bible after he had translated it into German. The article also claimed that anti-Semitism might have stemmed from Luther’s personal beliefs also, which I thought was a pretty large claim to make, considering Germany’s rather rough history with their Jewish population.

The other article that really interested me was the German Privacy article. I thought the author was pretty correct in his synthesis of American door policies: if it’s open, come in, if it’s closed, come back another time. The German way of a closed door surprised me in some ways and didn’t in others. It’s so different from America that it was startling at first, but as I thought about the closed door policy more, it kind of fits with what we’ve learned about “stereotypical” Germans this whole semester. They tend to be more private and direct than Americans, so it fits that their door would be closed for privacy, but then if you open it they would tell you exactly if they want you to be there or not.

Kultur 6 – Pheebe

In the first article, the author talks about how Martin Luther affected Germany as a whole. First of all, the article mentions that even though Germans are not particularly religious, Lutheranism has shaped the German language, mentality, and how they live. The aesthetics, such as architecture and furniture styles, and the music, such as orchestra, are all influenced by Martin Luther. One of the interesting facts is that Germany has the second-largest book market after America because Luther translated Bible into German and wanted everyone to read. Even though he had made many positive impacts in Germany, the author ended the article with negative qualities ascribed to Germans. He insisted on separating spiritual and worldly authorities, which attributed to German’s legendary obedience. The rigid moralism makes Germans hard to deal with sometimes.

The second article talks about Bild Zeitung, which is a very popular primary source of news for Germans. However, it usually contains a lot of sexual and “twisted” politician news. It is mentioned in the article that the motto of this paper is actually Bild Dir Deine Meinung, which can be translated as “we form your opinion so you don’t have to.” Even though it includes many disturbing facts and news, it is in fact extremely popular in Germany. I personally can kind of understand that because at my home country, we have a kind of magazine that has all the “gossips” and paparazzi shots of famous celebrities. Many people in fact enjoy reading it and it is one of the most popular magazines in the country. However, I always consider Germans as more serious and conservative comparing to people from other countries.

The next article talks about how in Germany, people usually have their door closed. In order to reach the person behind the door, one must knock “loudly.” In contrast, people mostly keep doors open to show a welcoming feel in America. I think it is pretty interesting to know about this because it could be useful for people going study abroad or travelling. However, I am not sure if the article is a little bit exaggerated or not.

Th last article is about how Germans have MANY different garbage cans for different kinds of waste. I personally find it extremely confusing, but I believe that it is a good thing that Germans are doing recycling with a very serious and careful manner. This reminds me that when I first came to the states, I could not believe that people actually dump their leftovers into the trash can. In my country, people do recycling for leftovers. Usually 75% of the leftovers are used to feed pigs and 25% are used to as fertilizers for farming. Overall, I believe that if people all over the world can do recycling like the Germans, we’d definitely have a more environmentally friendly place to live in.

 

 

Kultur-Texte 6

The first article discusses the influence of Martin Luther on German culture today, 500 years after his 95 Theses were first pinned to the door of a church in Wittenburg. Despite the fact that Germany is only 30% Protestant in the current day, much of what is perceived as “German culture” is really Protestant culture. This reality is reflected in several ways. The German emphasis on minimalism and asceticism can be traced back to Luther’s teachings, as well as the German love for orchestral music and literature. Lutheran ideals even extend to the German emphasis on austerity, which has been especially present in a time of multiple economic crises across the EU. However, the article ends by discussing the growing diversity of thought in Germany- while Martin Luther’s ideas have had a lasting impact on German society, there is a growing population of Germans who hold wildly unique and different world views and ways of life. I found the article very interesting. Germany is certainly not a religious country, but it’s fascinating how its religious past has affected the culture so heavily.

The next article is about the most popular German tabloid, Bild Zeitung. Despite twisting any minor news into an Earth-shattering story, the magazine is immensely popular in Germany. The magazine also relies on scandalous and semi-nude pictures of women to attract readers, and a scantily-clad model often adorns the front page. However, the Bild tends to lean in a conservative political direction, often attacking liberal politicians and policies. I’m actually a bit surprised by the popularity of Bild Zeitung in Germany. I would have thought that a country so focused on seriousness and practicality would not care much for the exaggerations and smuttiness of the tabloid. The combination of sex and conservative news doesn’t seem to mesh for me either. But Bild seems to have pulled it off.

The third article discusses German closed-door etiquette. Unlike the US, where someone available to talk will leave their door open, in Germany most offices have their doors closed at all times. As a result, one must assert themselves when meeting someone in their office- the article recommends a firm knock followed by entering the room. I’m not sure how much I believe the article on this topic, as Spiegel has exaggerated in the past. However, I’ll keep their recommendations in mind the next time I’m in Germany.

The final article is on the German obsession with sorting their trash into an array of different categories. Public trashcans across Germany, from apartments to the U-Bahn, require user to sort their trash into many different categories, from different colors of glass to packaging to organic waste. This can be confusing the non-Germans, who are used to only a few options for recycling, compost and trash. I actually think the system in Germany is great. The US could certainly do a better job of being environmentally friendly, and if the public could be as educated as Germans are on different types of waste, this issue could be improved.

AMD 6

For this week’s AMD, I listened to Mahler’s seminal work “Rückert-Lieder.” I encourage you all to listen to it, as it is so overwhelmingly beautiful, and some of the best music you will ever hear. To make it educational, I listened to two different versions, German baritone Dietrich Fischer-Dieskau and American baritone Thomas Hampson, and compared their pronunciation, word stress, and understanding of the text. As you can hear, native speaker Dieskau has it perfect, but Thomas Hampson, being the god that he is, has near perfect diction. Enjoy!

AMD – Julie

I went to the Beethoven String Quartet Cycle couple weeks ago.  So for this AMD, I decided to learn more about Beethoven, this amazing German composer.

Before I did any research for this AMD, I didn’t know much about Beethoven besides he composed many brilliant music work.  I first watched several short biography videos, which walked me through some of his important life periods.

Not surprisingly, Beethoven showed his music talent in his early childhood.  Unfortunately, this made his father to utilize his talents for money.  Pushed by his father such hard that there basically was nothing but piano in his childhood, Beethoven did made achievement since a young age and had his first concert at the age of 17.  I am impressed that he went to Vienna and played for Mozart.  He received praise from the most famous musician at that time!  His story reminds me of an article about Yundi Li I’ve read several days ago.  Similarly, Yundi also exhibited his talents on piano early in his childhood, which brought his father to trained him towards a professional pianist in a hard way through his childhood.  I used to think that this type of parenting could only happen sometimes in China.  The good outcomes of this type of parenting scarify the entire childhood.

I also read some online articles with a background of Beethoven music.  Similar to many virtuosos, Beethoven’s personal life is not always full of happiness.  I can imagine that struggling against the deafness must be especially frustrated for a musician.  Even though, he still composed many important works when he was just next to deaf, which was really unbelievable.  I think it is really interesting to see how his personal life influenced the style of music he composed.

I don’t think I am able to talk too much about his compositions – it is challenging for me to tell the meaning behind the music.  For me, classical music is a relax.  And each time when I hear the classical music, especially when it is played by a violin, I regret that I gave up violin in high school.  Probably I will start to play it again soon.

AMD 6

For my AMD, I decided to watch a bunch of movie trailers in German, to see what I could understand and to get a taste of German voice acting. The first trailer I watched was for Guardians of the Galaxy Volume 2. I had already seen the trailer in English, so I was generally able to understand the gist of what the characters were talking about in the scenes shown. However, the truth is that much of the German was much too fast for me to understand, even when I enabled captions. I did pick up on several English words used, like “rocket.” The German equivalent for rocket is “Rakete,” so its interesting that rocket was used instead. One part of the trailer I did understand very well was a scene towards the end, where Baby Groot is holding a pair of underwear in a jail cell. Another character looks in and says “Das sind meine Unterhosen,” which easily translates to “That is my underwear.”

The next trailer I watched was for Fast and Furious 8. Luckily, I was able to understand more because a lot of the dialogue was slower. I picked up on lines like “Dieses Crew is eine Familie” (another usage of an English word), and “Wir haben nur eine Chance.” There were actually a lot of English words in the trailer, like “high tech Terrorismus,” and “boom, baby!” This reflects the Kulturtext articles that we read a few weeks ago, about the invasion of English words into colloquial German. I certainly didn’t mind, as it made my comprehension of the dialogue much better.

The final trailer I watched was for War Machine, starring Brad Pitt. Much of the dialogue I didn’t understand, as there were a lot of vocabulary that I was not familiar with. However, some scenes didn’t require advanced vocab to understand at all. I found once scene particularly interesting. There are several American soldiers in a bar, and they are cheering “USA! USA!” However, they pronounce the letters the German way, instead of the American English way. This was particularly comical to me, because the most American chant I know was made to sound distinctly un-American.

Overall, I enjoyed watching the trailers that I did. Once I have a better grasp of the language, I think it could be a lot of fun to watch some of these German dubbed movies. I’m sure I’ll have the opportunity when I’m studying abroad in Germany in a couple years.

AMD 6 – Pheebe

For AMD 6, I decided to read about “Denglisch.” In the article, it mentions that German words have many cases of English loanwords and they started become common in the early 20th century. Some English loanwords that we have learned are “Kaugummi” for chewing gum and “Fernsehen” for television. After World War II, German language was directly influenced by US pop culture. Therefore, German now has words like “Hippie,” “Groupie,” and “Western.” The article gave several examples of English words/expressions that can be used in an unfamiliar sense in German such as “Handy,” “Fotoshooting,” and “Beamer.”

I think that it is very interesting how different languages influence each other. This is also one of the reasons that I thought German is easier to learn when the person knows/speaks English. Throughout the semester, I found myself identifying a lot of German vocabularies similar to English words and it has helped me learn a lot actually. Even though English is my second language, learning German has not been too difficult for me this semester (except the gender and grammatical stuff). In addition, I believe that this is an advantage for Germans to learn English since there are many words similar to each other.

The article also mentions some adoptions of German language from English idioms. For example, “Das macht Sinn” means that makes sense and “Was passierte in 2005” means what happened in 2005. A lot of advertising in Germany nowadays also uses many English terms. I think it is very interesting how much English has influenced not just German, but also the rest of the world. Nowadays, people usually learn English as their second language because it is an “international language” that most people know. Not only German, my first language is also influenced by English. For example, “Mcdonald’s” in Chinese is “Mai Dang Lao” and “Disney” in Chinese is “Di Shi Ni.” Also, I just want to say that the articles mentions there is a book titled “I like you – und du?” which is really cute!