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 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.

Kulture-Texte 5

The first article discusses the changing role of women in German society. It begins with an overview of the traditional half-day school in Germany. For over 250 years, the majority of German day schools end at lunchtime, allowing (or forcing) mothers to spend the rest of the day caring for their children. However, as the role of German women in modern society changes, many schools are changing this policy and adding afternoon classes, which allow mothers to work all day instead of being forced to care for their children for a large part of the day. The German economy has become largely dependent on women in the workforce, as a combination of job-losses and a declining birthrate. The article finishes by commenting on the fact that German women do continue to face discrimination in the workforce, and how an eventual backlash against their growing role is a possibility. I think its very interesting how the article discusses the push and pull between the German birthrate and the role of women in the workforce. The fact is that Germany’s birthrate is unsustainably low- the population is projected to decline over the coming years. But as more German women are needed in the workforce to make up for the population decline, they will have less time to have and raise children. I think that extending class to afternoons may be a necessary way to combat this trend.

The next article discusses the phenomenon of Germans not saying “Entschuldigung” when making physical contact with a stranger. This seems unnecessary to me, as I generally like to be courteous where I can, especially with people I don’t know. But then again, the articles have been a bit overdramatic in the past, and I wouldn’t be surprised if this one was a case of that.

The article on sex shops in Germany is also very interesting. I think that the American attitude towards that sort of thing is excessively prudish- people should have the right to be into whatever they want to be, without fear of being judged. America is often seen as a progressive Western country, but its important to realize that we are still much more conservative than many of our European counterparts.

The article on Klofrau was interesting as well. When I visited Germany over the summer, I remember encountering these bathroom-cleaning women, but I had no idea who they were or what their jobs were. After reading the article, it makes more sense. I do wonder if we in the US would be benefitted by having Klofrau- I’ve encountered my fair share of disgusting bathrooms. Then again, they are all free here, which is something I’m sure I take for granted.

The article on flirting in Germany described how in Germany, flirting is generally a more subtle process than in the states. Instead of a guy confidently approaching a girl (as is “normal” here), flirting usually begins with the guy giving a smile or eye contact, and the girl responded by coming to talk to him. That is certainly very different- American guys will not get anywhere using that tactic.

AMD 5

For my AMD, I habe die beiden Artikel highlighted by Hartmut for AMD 5 gelesen. Der erste Artikel war a New York Times Op-Ed on the trend of englische Wörter becoming part of the Deutsch vernacular. The author highlighted the two sides of the argument. On one side are young, more liberal Deutschen who don’t mind the incorporation of Englisch words into die deutsche Sprache. Among some of these Leute, extensive use of Englisch words is even used as a status symbol, to show that they are highly educated and cosmopolitan. The closest parallel I can think of between this phenomenon and Englisch, is the use of some Französiche Wörter by amerikanisch yuppies as a way to demonstrate their cultured-ness.
The article then explains the views of those opposed to the englische infiltration of Deutsch. Many of those who hold these views are older, more conservative Deutschen who are opposed to “internationalization as a phenomenon.” They see englische Wörter being added to German as a side-effect of globalization, a force they very much oppose. They are angry at the Duden dictionary (the German equivalent of the Oxford English dictionary), which has recently added 5,000 English-derived words to its 26th edition. In response, the German Language Society voted the editors of the dictionary the “language adulterers of the year,” in a move that I find very overdramatic. I see this struggle comparable to the modern struggle between more conservative English-speakers and the dictionaries that add in modern slang to their new editions, using words like “emoji” and “google.”
The author sides with the liberal side by the end of the article, extolling the benefits that come with certain englische Wörter like laptop instead of “Klapprechner,” and blog instead of “digitale Netztagebücher.” I agree with him- the Englisch equivalents of these words do seem much easier and convenient to use versus their deutsche counterparts. In addition, he mentions several untranslatable deutsche Wörter that are used by englische speakers, such as Schadenfreude. I have certainly used Schadenfreude in particular, and appreciate its honorary place in die englische Sprache.
The second link is to the Wikipedia page on “Denglisch,” a word that describes the pseudo-English words and vocabulary that have entered the German language. Der Artikel begins by giving several examples of “loanwords” which are English words that have been absorbed into das deutsche Vokabular, complete with deutschen Konjugationen. These include words like kaugummi and fernsehen, both of which we have learned in class. Interestingly enough, the article mentions that many words from amerikanisch Popkultur like Jeep, Western, and Rock, which are commonly used in Deutschland, were introduced into the language through American GIs stationed in das Westdeutschland following WWII.
The article then discusses Pseudo-Anglicisms, which are deutsche Wörter that sound like Englisch, but actually have no meaning in English. These include Beamer and Handy, two words which we have also learned in class. The article then goes on to examine the use of English in German advertising. Interestingly enough, the use of englische Wörter is especially widespread in advertisements for hygiene products, exemplified by German prodcuts like Double Action Waschgel. Overall, I found beiden Artikel to be very interessant, and am interested in seeing what other examples of English in German I encounter as I continue to study Deutsch.

AMD 4

For my AMD, I chose to start reading the Wikipedia page on Deutsche Kultur (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Culture_of_Germany) and see where it took me. I began by reading the section about Deutsche Sprache. Deutsch belongs to the West Germanic Sprachgruppe, along with Englisch and Dutch. Der Artickel sagt that Deutsch is closely related to Englisch, which I find surprising. While there certainly are many cognates between die beiden Sprachen, I’ve found there to be many Deutsche Wörter that have no Englisch form. In addition, the sentence Struktur and verb Konjugation seem sehr anders to me. But I’m no linguist, and have no idea what I’m talking about. So I’ll take the article’s word.

I then clicked on a link to Deutsche naming customs (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/German_name) at the bottom of the language section. My last name (Goettner, or Göttner) is Deutsche, so this Artikel seemed particularly interessant. I’ve done some research on my last name and found very little on its origin, but I still liked to read about Deutsche names in general. From der Artikel, I read about how most German last names originate from a certain set of categories. The first category is that of given names, where someone would take their name based off that of seinen Vater. These last names include Wulff, Friedrich, or Benz. In the next category are names stemming from job titles. These include Schmidt (smith), Müller (miller), Meyer (farm administrator), and Schulze (constable). I’ve definitely seen variants of these forms throughout die USA, which makes sense considering the large amount of German immigrants that came to das Land over the years. I even have Cousins with the last name Schulz, which certainly comes from Schulze. The final category I read about was descriptive names. These came from physical attributes of their bearers, like Klein (small) or Groß (big). I know both Kleins and Grosses here in the US! Interestingly enough, at the bottom of the section on the origins of Deutsche last names, the article mentions how some foreign names were adapted to German spelling. The article mentioned Französisch Hugenotten as one immigrant group, and used the surname Marquard as an example. I thought this was pretty cool, as Marquardt is the last name of meine Deutsche Professorin!

I then went back to the Deutsche Kultur Wikipedia page, where I found an interesting graphic comparing the values of different Kulturen across die Welt. Deutsche fell in the Protestant Europa region, which included nations like Schweden, Dänemark, Nordwegen, und die Niederlander. These nations lean heavily towards Self Expression and Secular-Rationalist values, though Ost-Deutschland is weighted slightly more towards Survival values than West Deutschland. I think it’s very interesting to compare Deutschland to die USA. Die USA is much more towards Traditional Values on the spectrum, which I can see. As a whole, unser Land is fairly conservative compared to our Western counterparts in Europa. However, the US is also more towards Self Expression and less towards Survival than Germany. This makes sense based on the Kultur readings we’ve had so far- it seems that many Deutschen are more weary and looking out for themselves than Amerikaner, who will go out of their way to be nice and helpful to strangers. Overall I learned a lot about Deutsche Kultur on Wikipedia, and might casually read about the topic in my free time again!

Kultur-Texte 4

Der Artikel on Deutsches Rad fahren struck home für mich. I have not biked in Deutschland. However, over the Sommer when my friends and I were visiting Europe, we spent a large amount of our time in Amsterdam biking around. I imagine that the Kultur there and in Deutschland is similar, if not more bike-centric in Amsterdam. Spazieren in the bike lane in Amsterdam would have been a death sentence, though probably only for the pedestrian. I was shocked at the skill and ease at which Dutch bikers rode in the lanes- I remember being specifically impressed to see a woman talking on ihr Handy with one hand and holding ein Buch with the other, all while riding a bike with ein Kind in the seat behind her.

Der Artikel on stoplights in Deutschland also reminded me of meine Reise to Europe. While meine Freunde und ich were never chastised for crossing during a red light, we certainly did notice the difference in etiquette between Europe and die USA. However, I do remember seeing ein Mann in Österreich crossing during a red light when there were keine Autos around. Either the rules aren’t so stringent in Österreich, or der Mann was one of the rebels mentioned by the article.

I have also taken note of the Deutsche obsession with Logik. Here in der US, we often assume that customer support will do their best to meet all of our needs, even if we aren’t totally clear with them. That doesn’t seem to be the case in Deutschland, so I will keep that in mind for future visits there.

Interestingly enough, me and my friends never had any trouble with Zigtickets in Deutschland. On the train trip von Frankfurt nach Berlin, we had forgotten to write in our travel date on our Eurrail pass. However, the ticket-checker on the train did not punish us, and instead gave us ein Stift to write in the dates on the spot. It was actually in Italien that we had trouble with this- we forgot to write in the dates again, and did not have ein Stift with us. The Italienisch officer who checked our tickets forced us to pay a 50 euro fine each, which we were not happy with. So in some respects, die Deutschen can be more lenient than some of their European neighbors.

AMD 3

For my AMD, I chose to do some research into the Study Abroad programs in Deutschland that the Universität von Michigan offers. Exploring the LSA abroad website, I found that there are three options for Deutschland. The first is an academic Jahr spent in Freiburg. Freiburg is in the German state of Baden-Würtemberg, in the southern part of the Land. However, the program requires 4 semesters of German language instruction. Since I have just begun studying German this year and plan on going abroad my junior year, that requirement disqualifies me from the program in Freiburg.

The next program I read about was the Metropolitan Studies program in Berlin. I visited Berlin over der Sommer, and loved it. However, the program in Berlin is less of a German program and more of a general Kultur program. As a result, it appeals less to me than a course that would allow me to use the German skills that I have been learning.

Lastly, I read about the University Study program in Tübingen. Lasting for a semester, the program is located in the same Stadt that Anna Adler is living in during her semester abroad! In addition, the course requires only 3 semesters of college-level Deutsch, which I will have completed by my junior year. The courses are taught in German, which is certainly intimidating. However, I’m confident that after 3 more semesters of instruction, I will be proficient enough to learn other subjects taught in the language. The time in which I’d take the program is certainly far away, but I look forward to surrounding myself with Deutsche Kultur and Sprache nonetheless.

Deutsch Kultur 3

The article on different types of Deutches Bier was very informative. I’m going to Oktoberfest next fall mit mein Vater and some family friends, and I appreciated the opportunity to learn about some of the Bier that we may encounter. I also appreciated the reference to Radlers. The summer after 5th grade, I went on a trip to Europe mit meine Familie, and we spent a week in Deutschland und Österreich. Somewhere along the way, my parents convinced the waiter at ein Restaurant to serve mein Bruder and I Radlers, most likely due to their low alcohol-content. When I went to Europe mit Freunde last Summer, I was happy to find that Radlers still tasted sehr gut (even if they barely qualify as actual Getränke).

The article on the debate over public trinken in Deutschland was also interessant. I find it fascinating that in Deutschland the right to drink in public is seen as basic, because in die USA it is something that seems inherently illegal. In a sense, it can be related to Americans’ relationships with guns. Many people from around the world, and even in the US, see the right to bear arms as entirely unreasonable. However, there is a large amount of Americans who see it as a basic right, similarly to how many Germans see drinking in public as a basic right.

The article on döner kebabs and Turkish Essen in Deutschland was also sehr interessant. For all the complaining about immigration, it certainly brings great food in to Länder that can otherwise lack in some respects. For example, in my Heimatstadt of San Francisco, the best Essen you can get is very authentic Japanese and Mexican food brought by the strong influences of those cultures on the city. In London, Indian cuisine (in my opinion) is often better than the traditional British food offered in the city. And while I do appreciate classic German food, I believe that the Turkish immigration to the country has brought a great alternative. And the article seems to agree with me.

The article on German pessimism also strikes home with me. I honestly despise people like those described in the article, who are quick to shoot down one’s excitement or optimism. When topics that ich liebe are brought up, I tend to get very excited. If someone responds with negativity, I’m bound to be very miffed or offended. I’ll have to work on this when I go to Deutschland, because if the article tells the truth, I’m setting myself up for disappointment if I don’t.

The article on German humor was a good read. I most appreciate the “Berliner” and “Hamburger” humor outlined- while I certainly do like most jokes, my favorite ones are dark and laden with sarcasm. However, one aspect of the Berliner humor is constant snarky comments, which I’m not always crazy about. I do enjoy that type of humor, but when that is all someone has to offer, I can get annoyed. I am a bit disappointed that Southern German humor is of the slapstick variety- I might have to get used to it if I spend a semester in Tübingen my junior Jahr.

Owen’s Reaction to Kapitel 2 Kultur

I found all the articles from the Kulturtext sehr interessant. The first article, while focusing on the Kultur of complaining in Deutschland, very much struck home for me. I went to a private school in San Francisco, which is one of the most liberal places in the world. While I am fairly liberal myself, many times I felt like my classmates took their criticisms of den USA too far. Even though I understood that most of the complaining came from a place of wanting to make the Land better, I often felt that the complaining came at the cost on not appreciating what we all did have. This seems like it could parallel the situation in Deutschland closely. Both many Deutschen and many of my classmates have very gut lives compared to most of the world. But while I think criticism of various institutions is important, I also believe that kids from my school and Deutschen alike need to be careful not to lose touch with what we do have.

I also enjoyed reading the article on Auge contact. Eye contact is interesting in that cultural norms regarding it vary widely from country to country. In Amerika, eye contact is important. In a conversation, not giving eye contact is a sign of disrespect, dishonesty or Angst. However, if you don’t break eye contact enough, you’re likely to come off as standoffish or just plain creepy. However, in places like China, minimal eye contact is a sign of respect. When holding a conversation, one is expected to let their Augen wander around the Zimmer while listening to the other person. This would be seen as very strange in den US, and I assume in Deutschland as well. Lastly, from what I read in the article, in Germany strong eye contact is not seen as creepy or aggressive in the way it is in the US. This extends to eye contact between two strangers. In Amerika, if someone on der Bus is staring you down, the appropriate response is to worry they are going to confront you. In Deutschland, this is obviously falsch.

The article on Germans’ brutal honesty left me with thoughts similar to the previous one, in that it totally varies Kultur to Kultur. Personally, I would never insult someone’s cooking or Aussehen, even if I was just being honest. It simply goes against how I’ve learned to act my entire life. However, I understand this is different in Deutschland, and that such lack of tact would not be taken negatively at all. It’s still something I’ll never do though, even when I spend time in Deutschland like I’m planning on.

Finally, I actually really understood the last article on Germans’ obsession with statistics and documentaries. I’ve always been fascinated by demographics and charts (especially on Landkarten!), so this aspect of Deutsche Kultur doesn’t confuse me at all. In addition, I watched a lot of documentaries with my dad when I was younger, and I still liebe them today. So in other words, this part of me would fit in very well in Deutschland!

Duolingo für Deutsche

For my first AMD post, I thought I’d try out Duolingo für Deutsch. I’ve always been a competitive person, so the Idee of a game I could play while learning German appealed to me. When I first began to use Duolingo, I immediately took a liking to the casual style of the Programm. It first asked me to take a quick test to see how much German I knew- I passed the first few Fragen, but quickly realized I was best off starting from the beginning.

As I went through the first few lessons, most of the content was review. I did learn a few new words- Brot is bread, and Mädchen is girl. After going through the first few chapters, Duolingo informed me that I was now 2% fluent in Deutsch. I’d like to think I’m more around 5%, however, since the program doesn’t know what I’ve learned in class.

Overall, I could see myself continuing to use Duolingo in addition to taking the German Kurs in class. While the site is no replacement for the Schreiben and Sprechen exercises given by German 101, it could certainly prove to be a fun and helpful supplement.