Swabian English

What’s with the politicians in Germany? Yesterday was the first day of Merkel’s new government, and it includes Guido Westerwelle, who can’t manage diplomacy even at a press conference, as foreign minister, and Wolfgang Schäuble, who forgot he had some of Schreiber’s slush money in his drawer and thinks torture is ok to extract information, as minister of finance.

At least Swabia is kicking its politicians out. Günther Oettinger, the former Swabian premier, a man who denied Hans Filbinger was a Nazi, has now been sent to Brussels, joining that other German premier the Germans wanted out of the country, Edmund Stoiber. You might enjoy this reminder of the Oettinger-Filbinger embarassment:

Now, I hear Oettinger is taking English lessons. Better late than never? What are his chances of actually reaching a level that will suffice for international diplomacy? My husband (who is Swabian) is skeptical. “Swabians can’t speak English,” he says. As an English teacher I tend towards professional optimism, and I know: where there’s a will, there’s a way! (It helps to know Swabians who speak great English.) But the problem is really more fundamental, as Hermann Scheer says, because like most Swabians, Oettinger doesn’t speak German, so interpreters won’t be able to translate what he says! (“Wie alle Schwaben kann er bekanntlich kein Deutsch und kein Dolmetscher kann ihn daher in andere Sprachen übersetzen.”)

Grammar guru: must, have to, need to?

Last week’s question was What sounds better to you?

  • This has to be done by Friday (88%, 7 Votes)
  • This has to be done until Friday (12%, 1 Votes)

If it is done until Friday, somebody is doing it day and night until Friday rolls around.
By Friday
just means it’ll be ready on Friday.

This week we ask: What’s the best alternative to saying “You don’t really need to register for the event”?

  • You mustn’t register for the event.
  • You don’t necessarily have to register for the event.

Mae West: I’m an occidental woman in an oriental mood for love

Mae West (1993-1980), actress, comedienne, sex symbol. Mistress of double entendre. Her best lines:

    • I speak two languages, Body and English.
    • It takes two to get one in trouble.
    • Love conquers all things except poverty and toothache.
    • Opportunity knocks for every man, but you have to give a woman a ring.
    • You only live once, but if you do it right, once is enough.
    • Anything worth doing is worth doing slowly.
    • A dame that knows the ropes isn’t likely to get tied up.
    • A hard man is good to find.
    • A man in the house is worth two in the street.
    • Between two evils, I always pick the one I never tried before.
    • When women go wrong, men go right after them.
    • I’m no model lady. A model’s just an imitation of the real thing.
    • I believe that it’s better to be looked over than it is to be overlooked.

      Mae West lyrics:
      I’m an occidental woman in an oriental mood for love

      I’m an occidental woman in an oriental mood for love
      And I feel the thrill of China when I see a yellow buddha moon above
      And when it weaves its magic spell around me
      Sweet love is all I’m dreaming of
      I’m an occidental woman in an oriental mood for love

      (From the 1936 Mae West movie “Klondike Annie”)

      Read up on Orientalism, the cultural stereotyping of the East by the West in the 19th and 20th century.

      song of the week 🙂 englisch lernen mit liedern

      William Hope Hodgson: The Voice in the Night

      Read this classic horror story of 1907 by William Hope Hodgson, a forgotten writer inspired by authors such as Edgar Allan Poe, H. G. Wells, Jules Verne, and Arthur Conan Doyle  (bio) as an eBook published by the University of Adelaide. A great Halloween read!

      It was a dark, starless night. We were becalmed in the Northern Pacific. Our exact position I do not know; for the sun had been hidden during the course of a weary, breathless week, by a thin haze which had seemed to float above us, about the height of our mastheads, at whiles descending and shrouding the surrounding sea.

      With there being no wind, we had steadied the tiller, and I was the only man on deck. The crew, consisting of two men and a boy, were sleeping forrard in their den; while Will — my friend, and the master of our little craft — was aft in his bunk on the port side of the little cabin.

      Suddenly, from out of the surrounding darkness, there came a hail:

      “Schooner, ahoy!”

      The cry was so unexpected that I gave no immediate answer, because of my surprise.

      It came again — a voice curiously throaty and inhuman, calling from somewhere upon the dark sea away on our port broadside:

      “Schooner, ahoy!”

      “Hullo!” I sung out, having gathered my wits somewhat. “What are you? What do you want?”

      “You need not be afraid,” answered the queer voice, having probably noticed some trace of confusion in my tone. “I am only an old man.”

      The pause sounded oddly; but it was only afterwards that it came back to me with any significance.

      “Why don’t you come alongside, then?” I queried somewhat snappishly; for I liked not his hinting at my having been a trifle shaken.

      “I — I — can’t. It wouldn’t be safe. I ——” The voice broke off, and there was silence.

      Continue reading here

      Conductors are managers

      Helmut and I loved Itay Talgam‘s presentation of famous conductors and their styles, from the TED conference in Oxford. It’s actually not just a mirror of styles of management, it’s also a prism of culture, as control is organized in very different ways. So, which of the conductors appeals most to you: Carlos Kleiber, Ricardo Muti, Richard Strauss, Herbert v. Karajan, Carlos Kleiber (again), or Leonard Bernstein?

      Autumn essentials

      My essentials are:

      • lights on my bike: headlight, taillight + wheel accessories; I wish I had these, but these are also pretty good:

      • PS: Just saw that tire lights aren’t allowed on the street in Germany. They should be, for the protection of bicyclists!

      • a variety of gloves, mittens, scarves
      • a tea pot and teas
      • friends
      • a good book (or two…)
      • running and gym appointments

      Can you add any of your own?

      Margaret Atwood at Literaturhaus

      It’s rare to come face to face with an author you admire and go away feeling as empty as I did last night. Margaret Atwood read far less from The Year of The Flood than I would have wanted. Long passages of the translation into German were “played” with spunk by a fine young actress, Lisa Wagner. The author, by contrast, read out her passages slowly, knowingly. Her comment on the German reading: “I wrote that?!?” Interesting.

      The two would have made for an arresting contrast there on the podium, but for the host, sitting stage center, self-important, blundering into stupid questions. Things got a little out of hand and I was thinking, ach, man, can’t you just go outside and play? Bah.

      Ms Atwood in the café afterwards

      Margaret Atwood three weeks ago on her book

      “Wanting to meet an author because you like his work is like wanting to meet a duck because you like paté.”
      — Margaret Atwood