Fake German Pronunciation of English Words

Following up on the quote of the day: Sometimes I have to pronounce English words while speaking in German, to a German.  This can happen when I order a "Singapore Sling" in a bar, or talk about a "public viewing" of a soccer game football match.  Or, when driven to extremes by late-night hunger, and the only place open is a Subway shop, which offers "Turkey Breast" or "Italian B.M.T." sandwiches.  To make myself understood, I have to pronounce these English words with a fake German accent.  Otherwise, I get blank looks.  It’s creepy, I tell you.  Even creepier is having to pronounce my last name — which is a German word — the way Germans would pronounce it, instead of pronouncing it in the flat, nasal American way I learned it.

Maybe you can file this under ‘experiences native English speakers should have more often.’

Quote of the Day: Being a Halfwit

W.G. Sebald, who emigrated to England when he was in his 20s, but continued to write in German until his death in 2001, on living between two languages:

[O]n bad days you don’t trust yourself, either in your first or your second language, and so you feel like a complete halfwit.

‘Berlin Had the Better Idea’

In the New York Times, Paul Krugman praises German urbanism:

If Europe’s example is any guide, here are the two secrets of coping with expensive oil: own fuel-efficient cars, and don’t drive them too much.

Notice that I said that cars should be fuel-efficient — not that people should do without cars altogether. In Germany, as in the United States, the vast majority of families own cars (although German households are less likely than their U.S. counterparts to be multiple-car owners).

But the average German car uses about a quarter less gas per mile than the average American car. By and large, the Germans don’t drive itsy-bitsy toy cars, but they do drive modest-sized passenger vehicles rather than S.U.V.’s and pickup trucks….

Greater Atlanta has roughly the same population as Greater Berlin — but Berlin is a city of trains, buses and bikes, while Atlanta is a city of cars, cars and cars.

And in the face of rising oil prices, which have left many Americans stranded in suburbia — utterly dependent on their cars, yet having a hard time affording gas — it’s starting to look as if Berlin had the better idea….

[I]f we’re heading for a prolonged era of scarce, expensive oil, Americans will face increasingly strong incentives to start living like Europeans — maybe not today, and maybe not tomorrow, but soon, and for the rest of our lives.

Eija-Liisa Ahtila in K21

I note that K21, the contemporary-art museum in Duesseldorf, is currently hosting an retrospective from Eija-Liisa Ahtila (g) a Finnish video artist.  I saw her 2002 work "The House" a few years ago, which documents a schizophrenic woman’s perception of space and time in a series of surrealistic, dream-like vignettes.  Oddly moving, and like nothing I’d ever seen before.  Plus, you get to hear Finnish being spoken.  Finnish is a spine-tingling language.  I plan to drop by soon, and will post a review. 

A Spare Head with A Kinder Facial Expression

Don’t you wish you had one?  The new Ukrainian Adolf Hitler doll does, according to the Daily Mail [h/t Paul R.]:

An action-man style doll of Nazi leader Adolf Hitler has gone on sale in the Ukraine, with saleswomen comparing the doll to Barbie.

Supermarkets in the capital Kiev are stocking the 40 centimetre high figure of the fuhrer, complete with jackboots, leather trench-coat and swastika armband.

The £100 figure has a spare head "with a kind expression on it," glasses and several changes of clothes.

A few comments:

  • First, one-hundred bleedin’ pounds?  Isn’t this probably 5 times the monthly salary in the Ukraine?
  • This reminds me of an passage in Hans Massaquoi’s Destined to Witness, an account of his childhood growing up half-black in Nazi Germany.  Turns out one that the main hobby of young boys growing up in the Third Reich was meeting after school to trade dolls of the Nazi Party leadership (literally, "I’ll trade you two Goebbels for a Himmler").  The kid who collected the entire set got all the respect.  Massaquoi relates that he was just as passionate a doll-trader as all of his buddies.
  • Let me register my irritation at the lazy gits at the Daily Mail, who don’t even tell you the name the company that makes the doll.  I thought they taught you to answer the questions "who, what, where, when and why" in Journalism 101.  Why would they omit this basic information?  Are they afraid that thousands of Daily Mail readers will suddenly…oh, wait, I get it.