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Funniest mistakes Germans make in English

The Local · 26 Apr 2012, 16:28

Published: 26 Apr 2012 16:28 GMT+02:00

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Learning a language is tough. Not only do you struggle through a dense new jungle of vocabulary, subject-verb agreements and third conditionals, you also have to contend with smug native speakers sniggering when you say something slightly wrong that gives it an amusing double entendre.

People learning German, for example, always have to remember the difference between "schwül" (humid) and "schwul" (gay) – one dropped umlaut and you can end up in a very sticky situation.

But Germans learning English also have a few land-mines to avoid - some are annoying, others can brighten up a dull day. Please.

Check out our list of the funniest German mistakes here!

The Local/bk

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Your comments about this article

17:11 April 26, 2012 by Zobirdie
Um... one of those pics is *SO* NSFW!
17:49 April 26, 2012 by Major Dude
You missed one very important phrase. They call studying as learning because of their verb lernen. "I have to learn tonight" or "I am learning right now" is very common.
17:58 April 26, 2012 by canadianinberlin
Not to forget my favourite: "I want informations on sightseeings".
18:11 April 26, 2012 by Whipmanager
OK, but you all miss the Double Entendre...Gay and Sticky Situation...I can see how it could be, a slip of the tongue and you are in a world of SH*&!!

I find that speaking german was harder for me than my friends speaking English. I read that 50% of German has the same sound/meaning of the english equivalent word. Also, I find that too many irregular verbs made it hard for me. But I remember getting laughed at a great deal by the superior German...
19:23 April 26, 2012 by MeinSchwanz
Germans can be very unforgiving of even the smallest grammatical errors in the German spoken language. So, I see no alternative than to afford Germans the same courtesy, when they attempt to speak English. I let no grammatical error slide. Not to mention, the delightful accent German speakers forge into the English language. Its like an entire country of little Arnie Schwarzeneggers with a British accent. "I like the color red because it's a fire. And I see myself as always being on fire."
20:10 April 26, 2012 by Merlot
At least Germans do speak a foreign language...or two or three. Let´s see how many English/Americans do so.
20:59 April 26, 2012 by MaKo
Oh, Local, you have to add this one:

"getting a baby" as in, "Have you heard? Gerlinde is getting a baby!"
21:06 April 26, 2012 by raandy
Merlot you know English you are in, travel around the world if you are dubious , hard to lern another language when every one wants to speak English with you.
00:19 April 27, 2012 by Ruhetag
Comment removed by The Local for breach of our terms.
00:38 April 27, 2012 by tbrown17
Any German or any other for that matter who makes the effort to learn to speak English should be commended and not sniggered at. Very poor form to laugh at someone who is making a legitimate attempt to communicate in yr languate. French are bad about this. At any rate, most Americans know little to nothing about the grammar of their own language. It is horrible to try & learn English grammar. We are lucky to be able to speak fairly well ourselves only because we grew up with it. :-)
01:22 April 27, 2012 by Logic Guy
Well, I find the German language interesting. It has a nice, technical sound.

Sure, it is much more complex than English, and also has more words too. However, at the end of the day, at first it's difficult for all people to learn a new language, especially if they're an adult. Nonetheless, with some time, you will eventually learn.

Each person is different. Most Germans I've met were friendly, and found it interesting that I'm studying their language.
01:40 April 27, 2012 by gorongoza
"Funniest mistakes Germans make in English".

I personally do not find it funny when Germans make mistakes when they speak English. Instead I applaud everyone who is not afraid or ashamed of speaking English because its not his/her mother laguage. KEEP IT UP ! This is the way to learning a language.

By the same token those English speakers (like the writer who catalogued what he called funny mistakes) who find it it funny may be found to be dead woods when it comes to German Language.

Infact, this topic is counter-productive: those Germans who try to speak in English may be put off ........... then we will see who help those who visit Germany (especially the English speakers) without knowing a word in German language.

Continue having your funny but I bet you one day you will appreciate the efforts of those Germans who try to speak in English.
03:53 April 27, 2012 by wood artist
While I'm certain I've provided many moments for Germans to "enjoy" my struggles with their language, I'm not going to be too critical of people trying to learn and use English. Neither language is "simple."

On the other hand, I will make one observation: At least English nouns don't have gender. Most other languages do...including German, which sort of has three genders...even tougher...and remembering what is female or male, especially when that assignment seems to make no logical sense, can make German much tougher, not to mention the trading of gender...or at least the trading of gender spelling...when changing to plurals. ARGH!

08:20 April 27, 2012 by MaKo
Ummm, Localites? I think this was meant to entertain native speakers of English who live in Germany, which is to say, native speakers of English who struggle with and muddle up the German lanugage on a daily basis, to have a little laugh.

Personally speaking, I owe my conversation partners a debt of gratitude for not "laughing me out" about the doubtless comical things I say in their language. They've been very forgiving - as are by and large many English speakers when communicating with speakers of other languages.

Nonetheless, sometimes common mistakes are just funny. Lighten up and have a laugh. We wouldn't be reading this if we didn't love ya, Deutschland!
08:21 April 27, 2012 by Herr Ed
I'd never make fun of someone's English, since I can guarantee it's better than my German!
09:30 April 27, 2012 by hankeat
Neither English and German are my mother tongue, in fact they are my third and fourth languages. Few days ago I accompanied my German friend to hospital for an surgery. While the nurse was looking for him in the waiting room, I told her "Er ist in der Toilette." She burst out laughing and said. "In der Toilette ist nicht so gut, auf der Toilette is besser." Then all the patients in the waiting room were laughing. I really don't mind they were laughing.
11:10 April 27, 2012 by jodessa
My husband is quoted as saying: "Honey, please turn your socks off when you go to bed."

ME: laughing hysterically.

HIM: "Oh it's not fair to laugh. I am not a native American!!"

11:15 April 27, 2012 by HHayrider
As an American, I lived in Hamburg for 3 years, so my German was handicapped with bits of Platt Deutsch here and there. After 18 years, I went back to Germany. And in 2 weeks, I got around pretty good, considering I only needed help twice with someone speaking English to me. (which ironically was undergarments for my wife, words and terms I dont know that I ever knew)

I stuttered and stumbled quite a bit with my rustig German. (Rostig+Lustig=Rustig) but no one assaulted me, or even laughed. I feel I faired quite well. And almost always then, and now, even the German who speaks horrible English, still is probably better at it than when I speak German.
14:22 April 27, 2012 by Sayer
I always agree when my German colleagues tell me, "I am very boring!" Sadly, they are.
15:51 April 27, 2012 by randyman1956
Americans aren't as condescending as Europeans. I enjoy listening to Germans say "Sank You" "Happy Burseday" "I sink so" 'getting a hore cut at the Beauty Shop" Englanders are just as humorous when a girl invites you over to her flat and says, "Come knock me up". Most of these are innocent oversights as compared to those who would change or attempt to butcher a language intentionally.
16:20 April 27, 2012 by lenny van
It is very important that we laugh at Germans when we find the mistakes they make in English funny. You don't realize that they are learning something far more much more useful to both the Germans and the rest of the world than a foreign language. I believe that every Gertman should have to do something frivolous or foolish at least once a day, until it becomes natural and they can do it without even thinking. When they don't care if they look foolish and even reach the stage where they can REALLY laugh at themselves, the world will become a much safer place and Germany will be a much better place to live in.

Auslanders shop a lot at IKEA. In the recent past Ikea has reduced their staff considerably - more than 50% in the last five years in one of the stores. I was in the store at midday today shopping at the store in North Munich. I couldn't find anyone for a long time and started calling out for any Ikea service personnel to make themselves known. I've never known their service to be so bad. In my opinion they need 50% to more staff. One person in two departments is not enough. Consumers have the power to go on strike. As a warning strike, we should oick the first week of the first week in July to boycott Ikea. I'm tired of a two hour shopping trip taking four hours because of the lack of assistance and the long lines.
20:07 April 27, 2012 by bhess
I just remember never being able to use my german because they always wanted to practice their english on me.

Even when I had to use my german, everyone was always very nice and patient.
15:00 April 28, 2012 by michelbisson
My guess is that someone generall feel it when our laughing about their language mistakes is to put them down or simply funny from our point of view.

If we feel they take our laughter the wrong way it's always posdible to correct he sitation with a shrt explanation. In any case it spices up the conversation and gives ground for a light and closer onnection.

I really don't like being live corrected in my attempts to seak German.

It gives the feeling that the listener is more interested in the correctness of the language than what I'm trying to convey.

Definitely it is very often a breath of fresh air to hear a language innocently being warped to create other meanings than originally meant.
21:02 April 28, 2012 by Flint
I've noticed that even Germans who speak English very well will sometimes pronounce a v as a w, as in pronouncing "very" as "wary". Perhaps on some subconscious level, they pronounce an English v as an English w because a German w is pronounced as an English v.
22:12 April 28, 2012 by PierceArrow
I agree with the comments that at least Germans know some foreign languages, unlike most Americans. That said, my favorite mistake is still John F. Kennedy's 1963 mistake of saying "Ich bin ein Berliner" instead of "Ich bin Berliner." JFK actually said "I am a jelly donut." In the 1980s, Ted Kennedy made the same mistake! LOL
11:38 April 29, 2012 by mos101392
Even native english speakers sometimes have problems communicating. I once lived in England and was asked if I had a "FAG"...I looked around and replied, "I'm sorry, I don't normally carry a homosexual in my pocket". Or another time a bunch of english kids on my street all came running screaming, " a lorry just crashed into a house". My first thought was how could a girl crash into a house? I thought maybe she was mentally challenged.
16:01 April 29, 2012 by zeddriver
I think everyone should be afforded a bit of latitude while learning a new language.

What I do find frustrating about Germans is the total lack of the understanding of context. If a German happens to make a mistake when speaking about a subject. An American or British person will put the pieces together based on the subject at hand. Conversely, If an American is speaking to a German about a well known auto maker based in Munchen. And says BMW instead of BMV you will most likely be met with a blank look and they will have no idea what you have just said. They just can't put together the fact that we were talking cars and Munchen and meant to say BMW

That's why I gave up trying to learn German. When trying to speak to Germans one MUST be perfect every time or be ignored. When Germans try English on native English speakers we will help them to fill in the blanks. And we tend to not be offended by a simple mistake.
16:21 April 29, 2012 by Al uk
Lighten up folks it's only humour and in these autstere times we could all do with one.

In Poland i once asked for "kurwa" instead of "kurczak" wwhich brought out a few laughs and comments.
03:01 May 5, 2012 by mikecowler
I,m Volksdeutsche, mother German father English and i was born in my German grandparents house and brought up there until moving to the UK permanently from the age of 3..

My first language was German but ive forgotten alot of it, as i was bullied and called a nazi boy when i started school in the 1960,s....

I remembered the "Ze" for "The" took a while to get correct lol
23:15 May 6, 2012 by Fireboat52
If you think it is bad when the English speakers laugh at the Germans, you should have heard the Germans laugh at me speaking German.

I war stationiert, scho lang heir, in Bayern obie. In die naehe von Minga. Da hab i gescheit Deitsch glernt. Drei a hoip Jahr im ganzen. Schai war's. Jetzt ist ma wurscht ab i koa gscheits Deitsch sprecha ko. I mog sowieso blos ma Ruhe!
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