Die Krönung

3d rendering of chess board game

Seit in Großbritannien für den Brexit gestimmt wurde, sind viele interessante Entwicklungen zu beobachten. Eine davon ist die gefühlt wieder auflebende Begeisterung für die berühmt-berüchtigte quirkiness („Schrulligkeit“) der Briten, allen voran der Royal Family. Filme wie „Paddington“ und Serien wie „The Crown“ erfreuen sich größter Beliebtheit. Hier sind ein paar unnütze Fakten über die British monarchy.

Laut der britischen Zeitung The Guardian erhält die Krone derzeit gut 82,2 Mio. GBP Steuergelder jährlich (im November 2017 wurde der Anteil von 15 % auf 25 % des Crown Estate („Kronguts“) erhöht). Bei einem BIP von rund 2 Bio. GBP im vergangenen Jahr sind das also etwa 0,004 %.

Die Queen spricht wie alle Britinnen und Briten der sozialen Oberschicht Hochenglisch, die sogenannte received pronunciation oder RP. Hierbei handelt es sich um eine auch als Queen’s English bekannte, von regionalen Färbungen freie, künstliche Variante des Englischen. Von einigen wird es auch als posh English bezeichnet.

Bis vor gut 10 Jahren wurde erwartet, dass alle Reporter der öffentlich-rechtlichen BBC-Fernseh- und Radiosender RP verwenden. Daher nannte man diese Sprachvariante auch BBC English. Die konservative Tageszeitung The Daily Telegraph (Wir erinnern uns: Sie wird gelesen von Leuten, die denken, das Land wird von einem anderen Land regiert (Blog-Eintrag „Pressestimmen“).) schrieb 2008, der Chef der BBC wünsche sich mehr regionale Akzente. Zynische Stimmen munkeln, diese Öffnung hin zu einer großzügigen Vielfalt drücke sich heute darin aus, dass Schottisch das neue BBC English geworden sei.

Hier findet man übrigens etliche Hörbeispiele britischer Dialekte: http://weloveaccents.co.uk/.

Die Königsfamilie ist nach wie vor beliebt. Laut einer Opinium (nicht Opium!)-Umfrage waren 2017 zwei Drittel der BritInnen für die Erhaltung der Monarchie. Findet gar ein königliches Großereignis wie eine Hochzeit (Save the Date: Prince Harry & Meghan Markle heiraten am 19. Mai 2018!) statt, ist das Land außer Rand und Band. Man feiert kostümiert auf den Straßen oder im eigenen Garten, wo Accessoires wie Fähnchen, Hüte und Wimpelketten nicht fehlen dürfen.

Bei der letzten royal wedding 2011 ging das Spiel „Find Your Royal Wedding Name“ in den sozialen Netzwerken viral. Nach einer Spielart setzt man seinen Namen, den man als hypothetischer Gast bei der königlichen Hochzeit trägt, wie folgt zusammen: Lord/Lady + Name des ersten Haustiers + Name der Straße, in der man aufwuchs. In anderen Varianten findet der Mädchenname der Mutter oder der Vorname der Großeltern Verwendung.

Unter glühenden Handarbeitsverfechtern hochbeliebt war auch das Buch „Knit Your Own Royal Wedding“ von Fiona Goble.

Wer sich für die menschliche Seite des jüngeren britischen Königshauses interessiert, dem sei die Netflix-Serie „The Crown“ ans Herz gelegt. Sie überzeugt durch bewegende Darstellung – doch Achtung: historische Ereignisse werden nicht immer wahrheitsgetreu dargestellt. Elisabeth II, oder wie die Berliner sie auch gerne gewohnt schnodderig, aber liebevoll, nennen: Themsen-Else, wird von der großartigen Claire Foy einfühlsam und mit wunderbarer RP portraitiert.

Wer einen für alle Generationen unterhaltsamen, angekitschten Familienfilm vor der Kulisse Londons sucht, ist mit Paddington (1 + 2) gut beraten. Nicht zuletzt ist auch das sehr britisch: das Romantische, leicht Abgehobene, Urige, Fantasievolle. Denn wie las ich neulich recht treffend auf einer Postkarte? Die Realität ist etwas für Leute, die Angst vor Einhörnern haben.

Der Pommes-Buddha sagt: It takes all sorts to make the world.

  

The Mouse

Field Mouse. isolated. striped field mouse

Every country has its famous kids’ TV programmes. When I was in Gymnasium, one of my German teachers told the teenage class, much to the latter’s incredulous amusement, that his favourite TV programme of all times was Die Sendung mit der Maus, a kids’ show. Learn more about this ominous mouse and why it’s still all the rage today …

Well, to tell you the truth, my English husband loves that programme too. It may not be obvious to first-time watchers, but the best part of the show are the so-called Sachgeschichten, the documentary-style stories that tell you about things or show you how things are made. Most of these clips are truly interesting, even to adults, because often we’re not aware, for example, of all the steps involved for a posted parcel to reach its recipient (see this clip) or how an episode of Shaun the Sheep is made (see here).

What is more, the Sachgeschichten are excellent for learners of German because, as it is targeted at children, complex processes are explained in plain, slow-spoken German.

Just like the popular board game Mensch Ärgere Dich Nicht, Die Sendung mit der Maus is a proper German invention and not an adapted format from another country. You will find more background information on the programme on Wikipedia.

Having two small children, my husband and I get quite a few opportunities to watch the programme together with them. (It is aired every Sunday morning on ARD, annoyingly at different times, and repeated on KiKa.) When we watched it one Sunday earlier this year, we were all particularly delighted because it was a special about Great Britain. I do recommend watching it and have put it on my Links page. Here are the direct links to both parts: Teil 1 and Teil 2.

You may think of it what you will. The show is (or has been) sexist to some extent, as most German TV still is today. But within its cultural context, it is simply one of the most popular German TV programmes ever for children.

Each episode offers something for different age groups: the mouse cartoons are targeted at smaller children (for our two-year-old, that’s all she wants to watch), the other cartoons and fun stories are for older children, and the documentaries appeal to nerds of all ages (and, as we all know, most parents are nerds).

I just wondered why it actually is that most parents are nerds. I think it’s because children ask so many questions. And parents need to find a child-friendly way of explaining all kinds of things which they have no clue about at first. (Seriously: no prep-time! You’re in the bathroom brushing your teeth, next thing you know, you have to give a full-blown presentation on the solar system. Impromptu-speech practice at interpreting uni class was a walk in the park in comparison – at least there we had five full minutes to prepare!) So you start being inquisitive and wanting to find out how things work.

First you tell yourself, it’s all for your child. But after a while you realise you’re totally into it yourself. And isn’t that the best bit about parenting when everyone gets something out of it?

Here’s another thought: I recently read that things that used to be seen as nerdy are now in demand because they are analogue and provide a haven from our busy digitised lives. Things like gardening, vinyl, board games, hardcopy books, crafts etc.

So modern parents are nostalgic nerds. And loving it!

The Pommes Buddha says: Go on and have some cheesy fun!

  

Fresh fruit salad

Heallthy Organic Fruit Salad

One, two, three, four, Mary at the cottage door. Five, six, seven, eight, eating cherries off a plate. Thus goes an English nursery rhyme. But who picked the cherries Mary is innocently eating here? And do Germans pick cherries too? Read more on cherries and other proverbial fruit …

Fresh fruit salad has for decades been on British hotel breakfast menus. I recently remembered I saw it on a menu in Jersey once, and this made me think how different cultures use fruit in their proverbs and figures of speech.

The proverbial ‘cherry picking’, which is increasingly used as a loan word in German (as this example shows), i.e. the act of selectively considering only information which serves a certain purpose and thus taking the best bits of something, is referred to in German as ‘raisin picking’ (sich die Rosinen herauspicken).

A similar turn of phrase in English is ‘to have your cake and eat it (too)’, i.e. to have the best of both worlds. In German, one could say something along the lines of auf zwei/allen Hochzeiten (gleichzeitig) tanzen.

In German, cherries are usually mentioned in relation to neighbours (die Kirschen in Nachbars Garten sind süßer), to which situation Englishpeople would say the grass is always greener (on the other side (of the fence)). However, if someone is a moper, we say mit dem ist nicht gut Kirschen essen.

Speaking of fruit-bearing trees in gardens, apples are a popular subject in turns of phrases. In German, when faced with a difficult situation but having to endure it, you ‘bite the sour apple’ (in den sauren Apfel beißen). In English, you ‘bite the bullet’ or ‘grasp the nettle’ (ouch!).

In both languages, you can’t ‘compare apples and pairs’ (Äpfel mit Birnen vergleichen), the equivalent in non-British English being ‘apples and oranges’. ‘Apples and pairs’, though not actually used much these days, is also one of the flagship examples of Cockney Rhyming Slang (see earlier blog post ‘Poesie made in London’).

If you are making a great bargain in German, you buy something ‘for an apple and an egg’ (für’n Appel und ‘n Ei), in English it is ‘cheap as chips’ (in US American English ‘a dime a dozen’). In England, ‘an apple a day keeps the doctor away’.

If you are insinuating that a daughter is very much like her mother, the German and English sayings are similar: der Apfel fällt nicht weit vom Stamm (‘the apple does not fall far from the trunk’) and ‘the apple never falls far from the tree’. However, ‘like mother, like daughter’ is also commonly used.

Oh, we could go on for ages dwelling on the sheer abundance of fruit and vegetable-related utterances. Let me finish with some of my personal favourites.

The first one will blow your German friends away if used after a long period of not seeing each other. If they have been neglecting communication, take that, ‘Du treulose Tomate!’

The second one, using the same fruit (someone told me once that tomatoes are fruit and not vegetables – no clue if that’s true or just an alternative fact), could be a door-opener at the Ausländerbehörde, where most of you poor Brexit-beaten bastards are presently queuing for German citizenship. If you can squeeze that one in, they will let you go without a language test for sure. Just say something like, ‘Ich glaub’ ich hab’ Tomaten auf den Augen. Ich konnte Zimmer 305 nicht finden.‘ That’s it. You must be German! Come into my arms, son! Here, have a piece of Blutwurst!

And finally, numbers three and four are English expressions referring to a person who behaves in a rather strange or crazy manner: ‘nutter’ and, turning full circle back to fruit salad, ‘fruitcake’.

So enjoy your fruit salad, or fruitcake, whichever it may be, and feel free to contribute more in the comments section below.

The Pommes Buddha says: Do you have beans in your ears?

  

Wetterkunde

Pinker Regenschirm und gelbe Gummistiefel Freisteller

Mein englischer Ehemann ist schon ganz genervt: Immer wenn er sagt, woher er kommt, erntet er von den Deutschen mitleidige Blicke und einen Kommentar über den vielen Regen in England. „In London regnet es viel weniger, als ihr denkt!“ ruft er dann stets verzweifelt gen Himmel. Was aber ist dran, an dem Mythos vom Engländer und dem Wetter?

Es ist das ultimative Klischee: Der Engländer spricht gern über das Wetter. Allzu oft trifft dies jedoch in der Tat zu. Der perfekte Einstieg für jede Unterhaltung mit einem Fremden sind Sätze wie It’s turned out nice again (dieser klassische Ausspruch ist sogar in Form eines Films verewigt worden).

Woran dies liegen mag ist eine Frage mit vielen möglichen Antworten. Ein Grund ist sicherlich, dass das Wetter auf der Insel sich für gewöhnlich rasch ändert und somit nahezu unerschöpflichen Gesprächsstoff liefert. Die sprichwörtlichen vier Jahreszeiten an einem Tag habe ich persönlich diverse Male erlebt, beispielsweise im April 2000, als ich mit Freunden zunächst noch im T-Shirt im St James‘ Park picknickte, dann wurde es stürmisch und begann zu schütten, kurz darauf fielen ein paar Schneeflocken und wenige Minuten später kam wieder die Sonne heraus.

Der Exildeutsche Henning Wehn hat das Phänomen des Wettergesprächs in seiner TV-Mini-Serie An Immigrant’s Guide to Britain (Channel 4) sehr anschaulich demonstriert. Eine ungarische Einwanderin machte dort (S01 E01) den Test: Die ungarische Art, in Form eines Komplimentes mit Fremden ins Gespräch zu kommen, sorgte allseits für Misstrauen. Sobald die Kontaktsuchende jedoch einen Kommentar zum Wetter offerierte, waren die Menschen offen und gesprächig.

Dass dieses metereologische Vor-sich-hin-Philosophieren nicht einmal bewusst als „Gespräch“ wahrgenommen wird, zeigt die folgende Situation aus dem Immigrant’s Guide: Ein Herr ergeht sich ganze 30 Minuten in Bemerkungen zum Wetter der letzten Tage. „You like talking about the weather?“ fragt die Ungarin ihn. Es schaut daraufhin ganz erstaunt und erwidert: “Not particularly, no. Why?”

Das Wetter ist das Sesam-öffne-dich zur britischen Seele. Eine Zauberformel, die die Macht besitzt, selbst schüchterne Mauerblümchen in smooth operators zu verwandeln. Probiert es doch bei nächster Gelegenheit einmal aus. Es mag zwar einfallslos sein, wie Oscar Wilde befand, doch es erfüllt seinen Zweck. Ich verspreche Euch, Ihr werdet Überraschendes erleben!

Übrigens ist, wie bereits im Beitrag „Radiokult“ erwähnt, der Seewetterbericht (shipping forecast) eine besondere Ausprägung der britischen Wettervernarrtheit.

Für die weitere Lektüre über das Englischsein sei zudem zum wiederholten Male Kate Fox‘ Buch Watching the English wärmstens empfohlen.

Der Pommes-Buddha sagt: Auf Regen folgt Sonnenschein.

  

Advent adventure

Paar auf dem Weihnachtsmarkt

As my fellow observer of the German culture Adam Fletcher writes in his new book How To Be German – Part 2, Christmas is serious business in Germany. And it all starts with the run-up to Christmas, which is Adventszeit (Advent season). There are certain things any self-respecting German should do. Here’s a bit of Adventiquette …

Christmas seems to be coming sooner each year. Supermarkets started displaying Christmas paraphernalia such as Lebkuchen (a type of gingerbread), Spekulatius (spicy biscuits) and not to forget the all-German currency Dominosteine (cubes of layered chocolate, gingerbread and marzipan) in late September this year. So you’ve just waved off your beach towel into hibernation and, poof!, it’s Christmas!

And every year I make the mistake of thinking I have plenty of time till Christmas. And every year, the Erster Advent (first Sunday of Advent) comes as an utter surprise. We interpreters have high season in November. So there I am, working my arse off with no figurative room to swing a cat, and I suddenly find myself hauling my exhausted body into the catacombs of my home to find the box with the Christmas decorations because – Lesson 1 – Germans perfuse their places with Räuchermännchen smoke and clutter them with tinsel, an Adventskranz (advent wreath) and possibly even a Christmas tree the fricking second the clock strikes 24th December minus four Sundays, which was 27th November this year.

Lesson 2: Have Adventskaffee on each of the four Sundays leading up to Christmas. In the hardcore (read: default) version, this includes offering a home-baked variety of at least three different sorts of Christmassy biscuits you prepared earlier in life. Not to forget the lighting of the candle(s) and, should you be so inclined, a dollop of Hausmusik.

Lesson 3: Craft an Advent calendar for someone. Honestly, parents go mental just before the end of November. My friend saw one of her friends in a shopping frenzy the other day because when confronting her fourteen and fifteen-year-old daughters with the fact that she assumed they had ‘outgrown’ Advent calendar age, she saw tears dwelling up in her teenage offspring’s eyes.

My own mother, much to my amusement, kept doing Advent calendars for us until we moved out. Thanks to her, I will never run out of little ‘useful’ things such as permanent markers and paper clips in my whole life.

Regarding the crafting front, I went on strike this year, though. After giving my older daughter one little present a day from 1st to 24th December for several years, seeing her roll her eyes at most of the gifts I had so lovingly and carefully selected, I decided it was time to opt for the path of least resistance, hop on the capitalist toy industry’s bandwagon and buy a Playmobil Advent calendar. And what can I say? They. Just. Love it. Every shitty little farmer’s fork provokes outbursts of limitless delight. I’ve spent less time and money, and they are happy as shit. Win-win. What more could a parent’s heart desire?

Lesson 4: On the evening of 5th December, children put one of their (polished!) boots outside the front door and wait for Nikolaus to fill it up with goodies (read more here). Yes, this is on top of Advent calendars and Christmas presents! I know: in November most German parents are left with nothing but heels to chew on while their children feast on the horn of plenty. Modern German Parenting 101.

Lesson 5: In the ample free time that is not used on crafting, baking, decorating, shopping, cleaning boots or playing music, see to your other Germanic duties such as downing some Glühwein (mulled wine) or Feuerzangenbowle (read more on this here) at the Christmas market, eating some Grünkohl (kale – yes, forget the smoothie movement – we started it many moons ago) and, most importantly, joining a round of Wichteln (Secret Santa) or Schrottwichteln (‘Scrap Secret Santa’ – find the most horrible gifts).

Any questions?

Ah, did I mention it’s one of my favourite times of year?

The Pommes Buddha says: Have a lovely German December!

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Troubled transport

Beautiful railway station with modern red commuter train at suns

The other day I was working in Mainz, and a colleague on my team asked me if I had “mit der Bahn gekommen”. Indeed I had. But what do Germans mean when they say Bahn? And where do ice trains come from or go to? Come and join me on a railway journey through the land of trrrävelling …

Mainz is about 180 km from Cologne. If I had been asked the exact same question (“Bist du mit der Bahn gekommen?”) on a local job in Cologne, it would have meant local public transport, specifically the U-Bahn (underground trains) and Straßenbahn (trams), and sometimes S-Bahn, which stands for Schnellbahn (urban rail).

To make matters even more confusing, there are quite a few German cities, including Cologne, where underground trains turn into trams and vice versa, and Bahn is universally used to mean either.

When you travel further, however, i.e. regionally or (inter)nationally, die Bahn usually refers to regional or national rail services, the largest provider of which is the formerly state-owned Deutsche Bahn (DB). A synonym for travelling by rail is mit dem Zug fahren, which never refers to trams or underground trains.

You will also hear many Germans talk about specific types of Deutsche Bahn trains they use, the most common ones being ICE, IC and Regionalexpress or Regionalbahn. What do these names denote?

ICE (pronounce individual letters, i.e. [i tse e] – although I have taken quite a liking to the fact that other nationals call it the ‘ice train’ … I picture snowy train roofs, frosted windows with icicles and a steam train puffing through a winter wonderland …) stands for – wait for the rather disappointingly prosaic reality check here – Inter City Express. How unimaginative. Picture me pouting.

It’s supposed to be the fastest German train – a concept that is put into perspective in view of the fact that long-distance trains accounted for most of DB’s over seven years of delays in 2015 alone (cf. Handelsblatt article 3,79 Millionen Minuten Verspätung). Yes, I’m sorry to be the one to break this news to all of you who still believed in the fabled German virtue that is punctuality. Woe is me, that ship has sailed. Or rather, that train has left.

And then we have the IC, which is – who can guess? Yes, ta dahhh! The Icicle Crusher! It, too, is a relatively fast train, relatively being the operative word here.

Finally, you have your Regionalexpress and your Regionalbahn. The former is the train that stops at the larger regional stops, i.e. metropolises including Oer-Erkenschwick and Bad Oeynhausen, while the latter, also referred to as Bummelzug or Bummelbahn, stops an jeder Milchkanne, as we Germans say. Both are 5 minutes late by default. This is because only delays in excess of 5 minutes appear in DB’s delay statistics.

As for the Bummelbahn, though, it can get even bummeliger than that. DB has even sub-regional trains up its sleeve, some of which run on diesel fuel, going where no man has ever gone before. Where no Milchkanne has ever been spotted, even. Picture a poor, lonely, dusty train all alone, tumbleweed, and, in the distance, a stranger playing the harmonica … I digress.

I like trrrävelling viz Deutsche Bahn because, if nothing else, you will always have enough time to finish prepping for the job you’re going to. Or writing blog entries about die Bahn.

The Pommes-Buddha says: Five minutes are zero minutes. (Zero minutes can feel very long.)

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Mushy speak

Fish and chips fast food

Among the many things that can cause confusion – generally in this world, but in particular to persons like many of yourselves, dear readers, who live in a country where the main language is not their mother tongue – are words that sound the same but mean something entirely different in two languages. Here’s why you should never bring a ‘gift’ to a German home.

 Further to what has been discussed in “Gute Fahrt, Mr Krabs!” a while back, I would like to take you on another little stroll through the maize of acoustic pitfalls between English and German. Let the following tales be a gentle warning to any unsuspecting Yorkshire dinner guest.

One of my office mates, a sound engineer, once told me that she was involved in designing and naming a new mixer console, which was to be marketed globally. All was well, the hardware had been assembled to all the international stakeholders’ content, alas a suitable product name was to be found. The Germans came up with a name that sounded entirely unconspicuous, even professional, to the ear of a German sound mixer. The Americans, however, emmed and erred about the name, saying it didn’t quite work for them, without being too explicit. The Germans, had no idea what was wrong with the name they had so carefully concocted, until someone eventually took pity and explained what Uranus sounds like in American English (‘your anus’). (Oh, hello, Austin Powers!)

Another anecdote takes us to the north of England, where a fellow German has dinner with his English girlfriend and her mother. They are having a take-away from the local fish-and-chip shop – cod, chips, mushy peas, the whole shebang. So, with a northern accent, the mother asks the prospective son-in-law, ‘You like mushy peas?’ His face drops. What did she just ask me? Surely, she can’t have said ‘Do you like Muschi …?’ Muschi, you see, is like ‘pussy’ in English. It could just be a cat, but to the average adult it’s female genitals.

Well, and of course you may bring gifts to a German home, just don’t say ‘Das ist ein Gift’ or something, as Gift in German means ‘poison.’ Which reminds me of a very common brand of children’s bicycles in Germany, PUKY (pronounce: ‘pookie’, with a short ‘oo’ sound, or [ˈpʊki]). It’s a made-up word with no particular meaning, and, of course, it sounds nothing like throwing up in German.

So, here you are, just be careful what you say (or hear) … and enjoy dinner with your in-laws!

The Pommes Buddha says: I have a Master’s from FU Berlin.

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Don’t Fräulein me!

mdchen und bursche auf feldweg laufend I

Recently, I watched Season 5 of Homeland. (In British English, it used to be “Series 5” – and while people still say this, the American version of Staffel is slowly taking over.) This latest series of Homeland (and in my personal view best one yet) being based in Berlin, I was flummoxed by a few rather striking blunders. Here’s what Homeland doesn’t get quite right about Germany. (Spoiler alert!)

  1. We don’t use Fräulein At all.

Contrary to what American film and TV productions would like the world to think – because it sounds so neat and German or for whatever other reason – in the German language we no longer distinguish between a married and an unmarried woman. Since the 1980s, we have been using “Frau” to address any female person over 16 years of age. (For more details, please read “You can say you to me”.) No exceptions. Fräulein, which Carrie uses referring to her daughter’s teacher, sounds very wrong!

  1. Doctor-patient privilege applies to gunshot wounds as well.

Interestingly, in the extras on the Homeland DVD (yes, my name is Sarah and I’m not a digital native, and I still watch DVDs – Hello Sarah!) the producers say they chose Germany as a setting for their plot specifically for its strict privacy laws. Yet they ignore one of the central privacy laws in Germany which says that it is not only not obligatory but even prosecutable for a doctor to report a gunshot wound. So it is simply unthinkable that a former intelligence officer (Peter Quinn) who knows any country he is in like the back of his hand would refuse medical treatment in Germany if he is shot.

  1. The BND does not have its own police force.

Unlike the CIA, the German intelligence service BND (Bundesnachrichtendienst) has no police force of its own. The national police forces are the Bundespolizei (Federal Police), the Bundeskriminalamt (the Federal Criminal Police Office, where I happen to have worked as a translator at the beginning of my career) and the Polizei beim Bundestag (German Parliament Police).

  1. German legal proceedings do not include video-taping or depositions.

As an interpreter working in patent law, I found this slip quite interesting, especially as I often interpret during depositions, even depositions held on German soil – but they are never part of German proceedings. Also, at no point during German legal proceedings are testimonies or any kinds of statements recorded live, ie on audio or audiovisual media (with possible exceptions when children are heard as witnesses). Usually, we do not even have word-for-word transcripts – these can only be requested in court as an exception.

So despite the fact that the Homeland crew apparently gets high-ranking (former) intelligence-service experts to sit around a table to bounce ideas off them while not thinking to find a person who has lived in Germany in the past decade to double-check basic facts that, if got right, would lend the programme more credence (thanks for staying tuned to the end of this monster subclause) I still consider this latest Homeland series the most exquisite one yet. The plot is just so well-written and the characters are superbly played. Turn a blind eye to some basics, and you will have a nail-biting ball!

More food for series junkies coming soon …

The Pommes Buddha says: No, we don’t all wear lederhosen, thank you very much!

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Strandurlaub

Sunrise at Brixam in Devon

Wenn ich Freunden und Bekannten erzähle, dass ich nach England in den Sommerurlaub fahre, ernte ich oft mitleidige Blicke. England hat bei den Deutschen, vollkommen zu Unrecht, den Ruf, täglich mit Regen oder zumindest allenfalls unbeständigem Wetter aufzuwarten. Hier eine kleine Anleitung für diejenigen, die sich trotzdem trauen.

Großbritannien ist bekanntlich eine Insel und hat somit viel Strand. Mein englischer Ehemann wird es nicht müde zu betonen, dass man von jedem beliebigen Punkt in England aus binnen maximal zweier Autostunden am Strand ist. Doch was erwartet einen dort?

Das hängt von der Wahl des Urlaubsortes ab. Der typische britische Badeort, für den Brighton wohl als Vorführbeispiel gelten darf, verfügt über ein Pier, oft aus viktorianischer Zeit und mit Lichterketten dekoriert, einen Strand mit beach huts, die obligatorischen Billig-Souvenirläden, eine sogenannte arcade (eine Art Spielhalle mit zahlreichen Münzautomaten, an denen Groß und Klein Tand gewinnen kann), einen Minigolfplatz (Crazy Golf o. Ä.), eine Bimmelbahn und ggf. auch den einen oder anderen künstlerisch inspirierten Laden in den versteckten Gässchen des Ortes.

Natürlich gibt’s dazu auch gemäßigte Alternativen diverser Abstufungen bis hin zum verschlafenen Fischerörtchen mit einem Tante-Emma-Laden und einem Pub (Polruan in Cornwall beispielsweise).

Meine Schwiegermutter besteht darauf, dass es für einen echten Küstenurlaub zweier Dinge bedarf: eines Strandhäuschens (beach hut – auch tageweise zu mieten), in dem man sich aufhalten und allerlei Ausrüstung lagern kann, und crabbing, also Krabbenfischen mit einer crab line und einem Eimer.

Entgegen den Befürchtungen vieler Kontinentaleuropäer regnet es in vielen Gegenden Englands nicht besonders viel. Manche Gebiete wie Cornwall oder Dorset sind gar für ihre vielen Sonnenstunden bekannt, und aus eigener Erfahrung kann ich das nur bestätigen. Von Mai bis September gibt’s hier meist ein angenehmes Klima, und sogar im Oktober hatten wir in Cornwall schon oft trockenes Wetter.

Viele Orte, die zu Stoßzeiten überfüllt sind, sind in der Nebensaison wunderbar (Fowey in Cornwall, Swanage in Dorset).

Klar, es ist nicht ganz günstig, in England Urlaub zu machen – aber das ist es an der Nordsee auch nicht. Und auch wenn es schwer fällt, dem Brexit ansonsten etwas Gutes abzugewinnen: Zumindest das Britische Pfund ist derzeit wieder erschwinglich für uns Europäer …

Ein paar Webseiten für nette Ferienhäuschen:

http://www.islandcottageholidays.com

https://www.cornishhorizons.co.uk/

Nächstes Mal … Ach, lasst Euch überraschen!

Der Pommes-Buddha sagt: Ich bin reif für die Insel.

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Gendering German

Teamgeist

It’s not easy to be English these days. First the Brexit shock, then being kicked out of EURO 2016 by a country that previously didn’t even exist on the European football map. Now you poor lads and lasses really have to take a lot of grief from your German and Icelandic friends. But cheer up! After the match is before the match, as Sepp Herberger once remarked. So let’s keep playing and look at a particular linguistic oddity in football.

German has many words that foreigners find hard to understand. Frauenmannschaft is one of my English husband’s favourites. It refers to an all-female sports team, which seems odd, as the German word for ‘team’ (Mannschaft) is based on the word ‘man.’ How can women be men at the same time? If you’ve ever seen the Cologne Christopher Street Day Parade you wouldn’t even ask this question. If not, here’s what I think.

Unbeknownst to the average German, the German language is secretly the most sociologically advanced language. See, we don’t even consider men and women any different from one another, so women can be men any time they please.

But wait a minute, I can sense a tad of injustice manifesting itself here … What about men who want to be women? Unfortunately, our poor male national football squad don’t have the option of being a Frauschaft. But I’m sure if they took a unanimous vote the German language would be open for suggestions.

Seriously, now. The crux of German is that gendering is so bloody awkward – if not outright impossible. As a result, time and again some important officials come up with ridiculous official names for groups of people, such as Studierende instead of Studenten because the latter excludes Studentinnen.

The thing is, if you want to write correct German, you cannot be politically correct and reader-friendly at the same time. Plus there is no agreed form of gendered language. You are spoilt for choice between the rather old-fashioned slash (“Sehr geehrte/r Herr/Frau X”), the brackets (“Liebe(r) Freund(e)”), the Binnen-I (“Wir wünschen allen KundInnen ein frohes Fest!”), the asterisk (“Partner*innen”) and, of course, using the long forms of everything (“Wir bitten jede Abonnentin und jeden Abonnenten, sich mit ihrem bzw. seinem vollen Namen anzumelden.”).

So, don’t try too hard. It’s impossible to get it right. Just enjoy Schland for what it is.

And next time, we’ll take trip to a faraway land …

The Pommes Buddha says: Manu, put on your hand shoes and save us into the final!

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