please don’t take my translations here too seriously, oh and am I now taking requests?

sunset in Dachau a while back

Not that I normally do this, but I guess now I’m taking requests. Asked a friend what she thought I should write about, and she had kind of a funny response.

Funny haha not funny weird…well, I suppose a little funny weird.

Don’t start getting ideas, though. I’m not a trained monkey here simply to do your bidding. You can’t just contact me and assume I’ll write about whatever your heart desires. That’s not how it works over here.

To be fair, I asked her what I should write about. It’s not her fault.

I’m the curator of this here place, by the way. Or if I want to make it sound/look more French, I simply spell it curatoeur. I’m not even sure if that’s a French word.

I wasn’t very good in French when I was in school.

They let you pick your own name in language classes, though. It sounds so preposterous to have this thirteen-year-old properly learning a new language for the first time saying, ‘Je m’appelle Ken,’ or, ‘Je m’appelle Lahikmajoe,’ or what have you.

Any of my friends from that time will tell you, ‘il s’appelle Xavier.’

Go ahead. Ask them.

Loved that name.

Since I was a teenager.


I tell Miriam that’d be a great name for a boy, and she rejects it out of hand.

Which is funny.

Our daughter has two given names. I don’t say her name online a lot, just because of privacy issues and all. At some point, she’s going to want to make choices about how to present herself in the sphere of the web, and I’d rather she not have a lifetime of stuff already come up when you google her name.

Her middle name, or as the Germans say her ‘second first name‘ but please don’t take my translations here too seriously, is my Nana’s name and my mom’s second first name.

I’m a translator in my other job, by the way, and I like to play around here. Like I say, don’t take my translations here too seriously. Most of my translations on this blog are meant to be tongue in cheek.

Think about it. Some of my readers are English speakers with rudimentary German. I’m looking at you Elaine, or you Troy. Others are German natives, but their English is quite good. That’s what I tell friends when they ask how Miriam’s English is. Her english is quite good. Really.

Recently a few friends said they’d love to meet Miriam, but they were worried their German wasn’t up to snuff. I chuckled and said, ‘Yeah, neither is mine.’

She talks a bit of the old Blighty bleety. She makes English words with her mouth. She’s significantly better in English than most of the English students I’ve had over the years.

Anywho…looks like I’m out of time. Didn’t get to the topic request.

Sorry, Heidi.

Next time, yeah?

Oh, by the way. Look up in the sky the next few nights. The Wolf Moon is getting big and beautiful. I was howling at her last night, and I think I might’ve heard another howl in the distance.

In Munich?

Wolves in Bavaria?

That can’t be right.

German words and not talking opera

She looks somehow optimistic, doesn’t she? What’s that she’s holding in her hand anyway?

You know, it can be a bit odd when you tell someone you like living in Germany. The person cocks his head, and either says it outright or visibly thinks, ‘But you could live in Spain or Italy…or anywhere. Why Germany?’

Then you admit that you actually enjoy speaking the German language…oh, and that you genuinely like the people.

The person you’re talking to cannot fathom that last bit. It is simply unfathomable.

Germans are boring. Everyone knows that (they’re not boring, but stereotypes are persistent). Actually, some Germans are painfully dull. However, I’ve met some Brits and dare I say even more Americans who’ve got the personality of drying paint. Every culture has its share of the socially inept. The comically uncurious.

Germans are humourless (aside from slapstick – many Germans adore Mr Bean, after all – the German sense of humour is  utterly language dependent…you’ve got to know the parlance to get the jokes). They’ve got a sense of humour. Do some individuals take themselves too seriously? Well, sure. Of course. I avoid those. I seek out the ones who see the lighter side of life here. The ones who can laugh at themselves.

And finally? Germans are orderly rule followers. Well, this one’s kind of true. It is true. There are exceptions, but on the whole there is a social order here. People do what they’re expected. They break rules and sometimes they lie, but for the most part rules are there to be adhered to.

Is that so horrible?

It’s rather good for someone of my ilk (a bit whimsical) to live in a society where things are reliable. If a German tells you he’s going to do something, generally that something gets done. It’s sort of refreshing.

What got me thinking about all of this? Well, I read this very funny page by Ed M Wood:

My Favorite German Words, My Barber and I

Go ahead. Click on the link above. It’s not going to hurt you.

There’s so much in here I can relate to. The words he chooses are some of my favourite. The way he winds the story of him and his barber through the list of words? Yes, I like that, as well.

My friend Amy has one of those calendars where you learn a little bit of German everyday, and she regularly regales me with the more ridiculous things that the damned thing is trying to teach her. If you think Ed M Wood‘s article is funny, you should hear Amy arguing with her German calendar.

Here’s the one from yesterday:


Quatsch keine Opern!
(Translation: Be brief!)
Literally? “Don’t talk operas!”
I like that a lot. Don’t talk operas for goodness sake. Not bad advice.