22 April 2005

Bumper Sticker

While we were wandering through Nürnberg last month, Jeannette saw this bumper sticker*.

Which says "We can [do] everything/anything. Except 'proper' German. Baden-Württemberg."

This is so funny to me... Let me go back a year. I was trying to get this job in Heilbronn, I was taking German classes and doing pretty well. I was on a business trip to Duisburg, Germany and out at a Kneipe with some of my Duisburg friends and colleagues. We were talking about my aspirations to move to Germany, but they kept warning me about how everyone in Heilbronn speaks schwäbisch and how it would be impossible to understand anything. Like I said, I was doing well with my German classes, and feeling good about it, so I assumed they were just giving me a hard time and said to myself "I'm getting this German thing, Heilbronn is in Germany, how hard could it possibly be?"

Fast forward to October 2004. I sit down with the Mitarbeiter for my first staff meeting in my new Abteilung. My boss tells them that since I had just arrived in Germany, and I wasn't familiar with the schwäbisch dialect, that at this meeting they could either speak in "proper German" (Hochdeutsch) or English.

Every single one of them decided that it would be easier to have the meeting in English.

Oh, and in case it isn't clear, let me mention that Heilbronn is in the German state of Baden-Württemberg, hence the relevance to the bumper sticker.

*Despite the fact that it was stuck to the rear window, I am reserving the right to call it a bumper sticker, since "rear window sticker" just doesn't roll off the keyboard like "bumper sticker".


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