My German Wife Corrects My Limited and Highly Inappropriate Use of the German Language

scary mouth hand covering face

“Maybe I should just stop now and never speak again.” — Photo by Sarah G (http://www.flickr.com/photos/dm-set/)

Learning German is hard. We all know that. But back when I was in my first German class in 2012, I remember learning a few basics about grammar and verb conjugation, and thinking to myself, “Hey, maybe I’m making some progress! Maybe I’ll actually learn this ugly bastard!”

Oh silly little American nerd — I had no idea what I was in for. German keeps getting more and more complex the deeper you go, and unless you’ve been doing a perfect job of memorizing those godforsaken gender-based articles along the way, you will make mistakes every single time you open your yap and try to speak it.

But my wife, God bless her, has been 110% supportive the entire time. Never a discouraging word. Always telling me how great I’m doing, how I’m learning so much, and how I will become fluent someday. She’s fantastic like that. She still has to correct me when I make big mistakes, however, which is why our conversation back in May of 2012 went like this: We had just come home from a trip to the beach and were unpacking our bags, when suddenly I had to go poop really bad. Like, Red Alert bad. So I dropped the bags, pointed my finger to the sky and proudly announced:

ME: “Ich gehe zu scheißen!” (“I’m going to shit!”)

…to which my wife replied…

THE WIFE: “Good job. That is right, but it is very rude.”

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54 responses to “My German Wife Corrects My Limited and Highly Inappropriate Use of the German Language

  1. Hilarious! Well, probably not at the time, but you know what I mean…Anyway, I’m also trying to learn German (using software that firmly believes in the conversational method of teaching as opposed to teaching the rules–yeah, I’m stupid), so I feel your pain. Keep at it,though–I need to know I’m not the only one making painful and embarrassing mistakes! ;-)

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  2. I often get very mad at non-Spanish speakers who try to speak the aforementioned language; I don’t mind the different phonetics, I don’t mind the lack of usage of extra characters, but I do mind when they don’t differentiate between masculine and feminine or destroy the grammar completely.

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    • My one and only complaint about Spanish Learners is those who are pretty far into their education and still pronounce “ella” as “el-uh” and not “ey-ah”. How’d they get this far doing that? I don’t even mind other words with the double L that they fudge up on, but something about “ella” being mispronounced makes me want to punch things.

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  3. Hahaha! My high school German teacher was a fairly prim and proper lady, so I never learned any useful words or phrases for, say, going to the bathroom. Or cursing effectively. So, when I was on my study abroad, I told my German friends “Ich muss ins Klo”. They laughed and laughed, and told me I’d just announced I needed to go into the toilet. Like for a swirlie. Language learning requires a hefty, hefty dose of humility. I’m back in a German class finally, and am remembering how much I forgot.

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  4. Are you sure you said that? Cause it’s grammatically wrong.

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  5. Its really rude and dont say this on public places ;)
    I never realized that foreigner have to learn every single gender-based article… thats crazy, for me as native german speaker it is just a feeling and it is 99% correct. Sometimes you have to think about it, thats funny.

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  6. Du hast denn alles verkackt… ;)

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  7. So funny! I feel your pain, though. I’m back in Germany for the first time in twenty years. When I was last here I was a fluent Au-Pair-Mädchen. I mean – Germans thought I was a German for the last four gloriously fluent months of that year. And now I realise that der, die und das deserted me long ago and I’m swimming (drowning?) in a sea of nouns without their articles.

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  8. Okay – this was downright hilarious (once again) – and I think your wife has the most admiring patience in the world. I tend to correct people when they say something wrong and I know that’s rude too – to be such a smartass all the time.
    *sigh*
    Sometimes I wish I would care!!
    ;-)

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  9. Yeah, I am about to take the TestDaF (Deutsch als Fremdsprache — the German fluency test needed to study at German universities) next week. I’ve learned to just give up on the articles and do the best I can. In fact, for this test, you don’t even need to use proper grammar. In the rules, it just says that you can’t make such bad grammar mistakes that it makes your speaking or writing unable to be understood.

    So basically, the Germans know that their language is shit.

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  10. Love it! Thanks for the midday chuckle. Lol

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  11. Well, it is vulgar to say it to strangers, but towards family it is possible to use it. My grandpa used “scheißen” when he REALLY needed to drop a deuce (yes, I am aware, that is vulgar, too). And besides, Germans are normally not so worked up when you use a four letter word (no matter how many letters the word has). We are way more relaxed with coarse language. My german French-teacher even tought me to say MERDE. Strange enough, the British and Americans use the f-bomb far more often than the Germans – even though it is less of an issue for us.

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  12. I don’t know whether to envy you for your in-house moderator (aka ‘wife’) who could save you from potential public embarrassment or be grateful that I only discover the horrific nature of my errors in German when I go to my weekly German class and receive tactful feedback from my tutor. Thanks for a fun blog!

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    • Cool! Which level German class are you taking? Beginner? Advanced?

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      • Hmm, I’m still only on A2 after almost two and a half years. I shall attempt to scrape back some dignity by emphasising that I only have classes once a week and only when my kids are not sick or on school holidays! Es geht sehr langsam… The day I can understand ALL the gossip in the Bunte mag will be a happy day indeed!

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      • Hi Wordy Cara,

        Yeah, once per week is super slow. I sometimes question my 3x per week class. Obviously it’s better to spread language learning evening throughout the week, but hey; we’ve all got stuff to do, right?

        Have a great evening!!

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  13. Yeah, but you got it right! I applaud your efforts.

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  14. LOL. But kudos for the effort! Learning a language is really hard! When I was dating a Colombian man his family was so proud of me for speaking to them in Spanish but all I could talk about was the weather during our trip to the beach. So yah, the vocab you learn when just starting isn’t always the most useful.

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    • Totally! And that kind of unconditional support REALLY helps, doesn’t it? No one likes to speak in a limited fashion — especially not incorrectly — so I really like it when people just try and help.

      Thank you for reading and commenting on our post, Jess! Come back again soon!

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  15. Oh my god, I laugh so hard! It’s my fourth year here in Germany and right now going to university and I still haven’t mastered it yet :( I feel like an Idiot when I speak with my german friends because they constantly laugh at me when i open my mouth, but they are really helpful to correct my grammar tho. As german-learner, wir müssen zusammenhalten :D

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    • Hey, congratulations on sticking with it for 4 years! That’s awesome, Danatidewi. Which part of Germany are you living in?

      Thank you for commenting and checking out our blog. Have a fantastic evening!

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    • I am pretty sure your german friends do not laugh AT you – maybe at your mistakes, but not at YOU as a person. You have to work hard to get to a level at which we can just understand you, let alone speak it fluently.

      But hey, I am making the most embarrassing mistakes in English and even more so in speaking – so what? I suck at French and cannot say anything in Mandarin. No need to feel like a failure, though.

      Comfort yourself with the thought you speak far better German than they will ever be able to speak your language – so YOU are taking the whole of the load just to make conversation possible.

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  16. As my colon ages I have sought an appropriate, yet forceful, code to communicate the urgent, frightening claim it makes upon me (from time to time). From now on: “Ich gehe zu scheißen!” (Do I need to ‘feminize’ this?!) No one will know what the hell is happening- except my partner, my colon, and I. Vielen Dank!

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  17. Man, that’s some funny stuff, but that picture! Gah, it’s so hideously revolting, and yet I can’t stop looking at it…! Nicely done, sir! I hope the German winter hasn’t been too bad for ya!

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  18. Man, that’s some funny stuff, but that picture! Gah, it’s so hideously revolting, and yet I can’t stop looking at it…! Nicely done, sir! I hope the German winter hasn’t been too harsh on ya!

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  19. Unfortunately I seemed to have reached a level of vague competence in German and no longer make highly amusing mistakes. Shame really.

    I do remember learning early on the importance of small prepositions. That, “Ich habe meine Freundin mitgenommen” means “I took my girlfriend along”, whereas, “Ich habe meine Freundin genommen” means—to use the British vernacular— “I gave my girlfriend one”. Got a big laugh though.

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  20. As always, a superlative piece of work! Congratulations on the great appeal your work here is accumulating… the statistics are most impressive and justified! All best wishes for your continuing growth and success!

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  21. No wonder you are still struggling with German, seeing that the lovely wife foregoes correcting you in favour of supporting you :) But at least she taught you to behave properly in public hehehe.

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