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!

> Audio version


The land of tailor-made terms

Car Air Freshener

One of the many reasons I love the English language is that it allows for almost unlimited interchangeable usage of word classes. You can turn a noun into a verb (‘to pool’) and vice versa (‘mix-up’) – and even combine the two! (While this is grammatically true for my native language, German is far less tolerant of neologisms.) Here are some examples of inspiring English ‘noun-adjectives’ …

noseblind – It may be a marketing stunt by a famous ‘home care’ giant, but it aptly describes what happens when your sense of smell gets used to a particular odour. How else can people stand working at Lush??? Some people are obviously noseblind with regard to their own BO or the perfume they use (in chemical-warfare-related quantities). And according to the group’s website, their products are ‘consumer-preferred.’

gun-shy – The one and only time I heard this expression was to describe a dog’s unsuitability for hunting. Apparently, it can also be used figuratively in the sense of ‘suspicious’.

streetwise – My husband is a moderate man. He doesn’t despise many things apart from Margaret Thatcher and The Pet Shop Boys. But when it comes to potentially dangerous situations, he can be outright anal (to use one of my favourite colloquialisms). For example, he says one should never go and see a flat offered on the property market on one’s own. It may be a set-up and one may end up being mugged or worse! And he always tells me to hide my purse when builders come. He calls it streetwise, I call it nuts. He calls it growing up in South-East London, I call it drinking from the paranoia cup. (My husband insists that the only reason I’m so unreasonable is that I’ve clearly never lived in South-East London.)

And finally, a known ice-cream brand used the borderline-wank-word expression ‘gelateria-inspired’ in a TV commercial – whatever that may mean. (Is it ice-cream that’s prepared in the same way as ice-cream?) It seems that advertising is a field with a particular propensity for such compounds. At least, the word inspires the creation of more such terms (‘a Portaloo®-evoking interior design’, ‘an OAP-riddled pub’, ‘a tosser-informed decision’ … the sky’s the limit!).

Next week, let’s take a closer look at Britain-inspired houses, and one room in particular …

The Pommes Buddha says: Beware of nerd-induced ear bleeding!

> Audioversion