Friday, September 9, 2011

Top 5 Ways to annoy a German

#5: Make 'em "Say something in German"
There is nothing worse than being put on the spot to blurt out some random German phrase for the amusement and entertainment of English speakers. At least give us something to translate. Even then it's awkward but at least we have a straw to hold on to. No matter what I would say otherwise, would please you. After I say the German phrase, Americans tend to be disappointed with my selection anyways. The only way to make your audience happy, is to include lots of throatal "ch" sound. That's really all they want to hear anyway. I always feel like some bizarre circus act, Hans the Bilingulist.

#4: Make 'em learn Geography
Almost every American has some sort of connection to Germany. A lot of members of the armed forces served over seas. They usually served at a base in some small German village nobody has ever heard of. Yet I am always expected to know all about it. Have I ever heard of Hinterstabholzingen? Probably not. So please don't look so sad when I don't know what you are talking about. What adds to the confusion is the fact some cities are just  pronounced weirdly by English speakers, so maybe I do know the place you are talking about, but I have no idea what you are saying.

#3: Bring up Hitler, Nazis and the World Wars 
Germans are taught to take anything Third Reich related very seriously. Whenever Nazis are brought up in Germany it usually is in a historical context that will lead to serious discussions. Therefore whenever Americans bring it up in joking matter it will make every German cringe.

#2: Mention Sauerkraut and Bratwurst a lot in conversation
Yes, Germans like sauerkraut and brats, but just because we eat that stuff, doesn't mean we want to talk about it 24/7. When I look at a vending machine trying to find a candy bar, I don't need snipe comments that I won't find any sauerkraut in there.

#1: Proclaim "German's love David Hasselhoff."
Yes, there was a time when The Hoff had a few hits in the Old Country. He sang "I've been looking for Freedom" during German Reunification. It fit at the time. If Germans had know that they'd be hassled about that for decades to come they would have gladly refused David's visa. Now we are stuck with a dark musical past and would like to move on, but you Americans won't let us. I looked it up on Youtube just to see how bad it really was, and it was even worse then I remember. So if you really want to annoy a German bring it up, but don't say I didn't warn you if you get a German evil stare.

Friday, August 5, 2011

How to get German television in the USA

One of the easiest ways of getting real German television into your home, is to subscribe to Dish Network. Dish provides several international programming options, one of which is a German one. Unfortunately the international channels are not included in the basic price. You have to pay extra for them. Once you are subscribed you'll be able to watch Deutsche Well, Euronews, German Kino Plus, My Sports Germany (a channel featuring full lenght sporting events), as well as Pro7Sat1 Welt. The package will cost you $29.99. According to Pro7Sat1 Welt, you are also able to receive their station through Verizon Fios TV, which is not available everywhere.
If you are lucky, some local PBS stations will carry some Deutsche Welle programming. Sometimes they will only carry the English speaking news programming though.
There are also plenty of Internet options when it comes to watching original German programming. First and foremost all of the German public tv stations have a great Internet video library. Here you can follow all your German soaps, news, and documentaries that air on ARD ( ZDF( In addition the WDR and other regional stations offer the same service with their programming. Looking at the private sector TV station it becomes a little fishy. Even though RTL offers internet video, most of their programming is region blocked in the US. If you are looking for German comedies outside the government tv stations you can find lots of them at . legally offers complete episodes of several comedies such as the German version of the office Stromberg and TV Total. It also features several German stand up comedians.
Another good option for German movies is Netflix. The online video rental service offers a large selection of German titles for rent or live streaming. Unfortunately the selection is rather one sided. Most of what they offer is World War 2 related. But you can find pretty much every movie Werner Herzog ever made, along with a large LGBT selection.
Last but not least, you can always go to Youtube. Good luck finding complete episodes there though.