1. Frank
    December 29, 2014 @ 9:29 am

    Nice read again, thanks, YRH.

    Oh yes, Sophie Charlotte … *sigh* … everybody seemed to love her. Btw, there’s an amazingly beautiful bust of her deep down in that huge park behind the palace, somewhat hidden, though. To keep’em tourists away, I guess.

    As to your statement, “It turns out Germans can actually loosen up and have really good conversations once they get to know you.”, please let me explain that those Germans often make the experience that US-Americans are highly superficial and that it really doesn’t make any sense trying to engage with them in any meaningful conversation. Just be nice and talk about the weather and Starbucks and MD and Katy Perry, etc. … I think that may be in part why children here are being taught to definitely not speak English US-style.

    Now that we’ve entered the realm of clichés, please allow me to lighthen things a bit and somehow prove to you that Germans actually do know a joke or two and – who’d have thought so? – can even laugh about them (I think you’ve already heard the following one; I’ll tell you exactly where *I* came across it first in a couple of lines … encountered it the other day again, by sheer coincidence):
    What do you call a person who can speak three languages?


    What do you call a person who can speak two languages?


    And what do you call a person who can only speak one language?



    (American Accent Training, Ann Cook, Barron’s, 1991, p. vii)

    Jokes and clichés are so funny, aren’t they?

    Btw, are you enjoying the snow? I most certainly am.

    Glühwein-wise: cheers!


    • Drop Me Anywhere
      December 29, 2014 @ 1:24 pm

      Frank –

      Such great insight on what Germans think of Americans and why they’re less likely to speak with us. I’d love to be the one who changes that viewpoint (although I do know some Americans who might reinforce it). Still, I hope they’ll give me a chance. As you see Nichole, Kai and myself had a very good (and not at all superficial) chat. And tonight, my new friend Peter, (the older man I met at the local bar) had a really interesting talk about his past.

      Still, the part about Americans and our lack of language skills is, sadly, true. Much of it is because the country is so big and our neighbors to the north also speak English (for the most part). When I was in school the choices of languages to learn were Spanish and French. I took Spanish and can now get by (although it’s become very bad from lack of use). And I wish I had taken French as it sounds so fantastic. Now schools are offering many more language choices so, perhaps, future generations will know a few languages. I also took a semester of German at University (I wanted to know what my grandparents were saying in Yiddish) and did not do well. I tried very hard but found it very tough to learn.

      As for the snow, I LOVE IT!. Actually, I love the sunny skies. And I was out and about today and there were so many more people around and it felt like a different city. It made me sad to say that I’m leaving on Thursday and heading to Rostock. Going back to my seafaring roots. I’ll be doing my traditional “The Good, the Bad, and the Thank You’s article for Berlin (might have to do one on today also) and then writing a bit about Rostock as well as three other cities (you’ll have to read to find out) that the German Tourism Board is working out for me. After that, I’m on to Frieburg where I’m giving a lecture at ANGELL Akademie.

      Thanks so much for the great information and input.


      • Frank
        December 30, 2014 @ 5:32 pm

        Please don’t take anything I write too seriously. I was just to trying to indicate that stereoytpes can be a slippery slope … Germans can …, Americans are …, Jews say, … Berliners think …, etc. It might be more appropriate to treat people more often on an individual basis? I dunno.

        As for US programs on foreign languages, maybe that’s due to a bare necessity? Judging by listening to senators and mayors addressing the US public in Spanish more and more frequently, I wonder when Spanish will finally have become the official language in Los Estados Unidos de América .. in five years – or would you give it ten? *lol*

        Btw, personally I believe that the Babylonian mess on this planet is just a very bad curse for mankind. Just imagine how much more really intelligent and useful stuff people could come up with in fields such as science, medicine, etc.- if they didn’t have to put that much effort and time into learning bloody foreign languages. Just have one lingua franca (English) … and maybe throw in French for the beauty of it. Well, just dreaming … German, IMO, is such an ugly sounding and grammarwise complicated language, who in their right mind would ever try to study that one?

        Rostock? Oh dear, why in the world would you wanna go there? While the towns, resorts, and beaches at the Baltic Sea are great places – particularly on the islands of Rügen or Usedom – for vacationing IN THE SUMMER, I wonder how you came up with that idea? Romance, despair, under-cover missions, business, …? Whatever, you might wanna check out Warnemünde. And the Stasi museum and the museum of naval history. But you’ll be missing Berlin, I promise …

        Btw, all those additional people milling around here are tourists flocking in for New Year’s Eve parties. The one at the famous Fan Mile, running between the Brandenburg Gate and the Victory Column, will have about one million people attending. Mainly tourists, of course, (true) Berliners don’t show up there (*stereotyping*). One of the biggest parties in Europe. Don’t go there! As an alternative, at least according to the local papers, there will be a NYE party and some fireworks at that Christmas market on Breitscheidplatz, which is located at the downtown part of the KuDamm you’ve been to a number of times.

        It’s Freiburg, btw. After your lecture there, head for the German, Swiss or Austrian Alps. THAT’s where you should spend your winter, up in the lovely ski resorts, but not at the Baltic Sea or the North Sea, IMHO.

        Anyway, bon voyage !


        • Drop Me Anywhere
          January 2, 2015 @ 3:06 am

          Hi Frank –

          Once again, great input. Yes, I hate generalizations also. I’m a traveler and, in my writing, I tend to write about the people I meet. I like to think of them as individuals as I would hope they think about me. Still, often I get, “you Americans. . . ” Um, it’s a big place so we’re different as individuals and also in various regions. And don’t even get me started on our variety of backgrounds considering we’re a land of immigrants. I’m only second generation America as all of my grandparents were born somewhere else.

          I spend New Years in Rostock. I really like this place. I’ll be writing about New Years Day in Rostock and the big concert in Warnemünde. AS Berlin was the main destination for the trip, the others will get one or two special days written about here and the rest will be in the book.

          Languages – I’ve thought about this on the trip. I do like one language as that might clear up some misunderstandings as well as maybe helping people realize we’re much the same. And I like the idea of keeping French for its beauty. Still, language is part of cultures. I know, in Amaerica, some Native American languages, such as Navajo, are disappearing. I’m not sure what the cultural implications might me if languages were phased out. Food for thought anyway.

          Must go check out museums and try to get some writing done.

          Thanks for the input.


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