Thursday, December 11, 2014

After The Mist

Before traveling to another country, it is probably a good idea to know a few basic phrases or expressions in their language.  Often, I have discovered that if you make an effort to ask something in their language (where is the bathroom, how much does this cost, etc...) the locals will respond in English.  Most of the people I have encountered in Germany have, at the very least, a reasonable understanding of the English language.  In the United States, it is possible to travel over 2,000 miles and everyone around you would still speak English.  In Europe, taking a trip that distance might mean encountering two or three different cultures and languages.  Because there are so many languages in such close proximity to each other, English is commonly taught in schools to help people communicate.  Where we live in Neukölln, there are large populations of Germans, Turkish and Spanish people.  It is very common to hear English used as these groups communicate with one another.  For Americans traveling through Europe, this makes things much easier. Just don't assume that everyone speaks English rather ask politely in their language if they do.  If you make a polite effort, most people are more than friendly and delighted to help.

But, there are some English words that I discovered that should be avoided.

In German, the word "after" means anus!  So, do not be surprised if you get dirty looks at the local store if you ask where to find the aftershave.  Also, no one will be interested in seeing your before and after pictures!  And, don't fire up the afterburners!  It's safe to say that any phrase using the word "after" should be avoided unless you want giggles or disappointed looks.

In German, the word "mist" mean shit!  Although it's not a commonly used English word, it can still create awkward situations if used.  For example, Mist is the brand name of a soda in The United States.  But, the last thing you'd want to do at a restaurant here is ask for a can of Mist!   The only thing worse than the giggles or disappointed looks you might get, would be someone taking you up on your request! 

In German, the word "latte" means wooden plank.  This might seem innocent enough, but when added to words Morgen or Morning, it takes on a whole new meaning.  So, be very careful how you order your coffee here!  It's rather easy to accidentally ask for extra foam with your morning erection!  Fortunately (or, unfortunately depending on how you look at it) Germans have a good sense of humor about this one. It's not uncommon to find a "morning latte" on the menu of your local coffee shop...  Just don't be surprised if your cup of joe has a rather graphic pictures scribbled on it.

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