anecdote

From Merriam-Webster: a usually short narrative of an interesting, amusing, or biographical incident. Synonyms: story, tale.

The artful placement of an anecdote is key to being persuasive in the American culture. Stories are convincing. They speak to our experience. Storytelling. Great leaders in business, politics, culture know how to speak to the imagination of their audience. Listen to former President Bill Clinton speak at the funeral service for Aretha Franklin:

The Byzantine official Procopius wrote three historical works in Greek. In the first two, he dealt with wars and public works projects, but the third was something of a departure from this kind of history. Referred to as “Anekdota,” from the Greek a-meaning “not,” and ekdidonai, meaning “to publish,” it contained bitter attacks on the emperor Justinian, his wife, and other notables of contemporary Constantinople. 

Clinton’s nominating speech at the 2012 Democratic Convention nominating Barack Obama for a second term as president is considered a masterpiece in persuasion. It is full of fascinating anecdotes.

German language aggressive?

An American woman in Germany: “This video was so fun to make! German gets made fun for sounding aggressive (but it’s not if you watch this video!), but little did we know, French had some unexpected funny moments too for sounding so short 🙂 Watch and see what I mean.”

YouTube comments:

“The German guy was so friendly and seemed so huggable! I really liked him. I’m learning German so I know sometimes there’s a stereotype about Germans being grumpy but I know it’s totally not true.”

“As a German I actually laughed at some German words for the first time. Because every time I watch comparison video they speak German way too aggressively but here the pronunciation is true to the original, which actually makes stuff like gums vs. Zahnfleisch funny to think about.”

Longer! Longer! Longer!

Christoph Waltz, an Austrian who often makes jokes about Germans in a rather gratuitous way, puts Jimmy Fallon to the test with a quiz on the definitions of long German words, like Bezirksschornsteinfegermeister.

YouTube comments:

“For non German speakers: The reason our words are so long is that you can basically string as many words as you want together and it would still count as long as it makes sense.”

“Can we just appreciate Waltz’s unwillingness to go along with Jimmy’s horrid fake laugh? He just stares at jimmy until he stops lol. An absolute icon.”

“You know you’re German when you don’t think the words are long at all.”

Glück

From DW – Let’s face it, we could all do with a bit of good luck this year. Rachel is on the hunt for lucky charms in Germany and finding out a bit about German happiness along the way. Is Germany a happy nation? What brings good or bad luck in Germany? And why is Rachel on a pig farm? Find out in this week’s Meet the Germans.

A teacher in German commented: “I’m actually studying to become a teacher and we intentionally wish the students “success” and not “good luck” because of the very reason you stated: we want them to feel like they can have an impact on the result by studying and not just being lucky.”

Another commend: “The secretary at the welcome desk in our university mentioned to me that the following day was her birthday, and I very innocently and enthusiastically said, “Alles Gute!”. I will never forget the almost terrifying face, the awkward silence, like I had committed a crime. “It’s not really good to wish someone happy birthday before the day,” she said. I had no idea. She tried to laugh it off, but her eyes looked seriously worried I carry the guilt to this day.”

More False Friends

Deutsche Welle – Languages borrow words from each other all the time. But if the meaning gets changed along the way, things can get pretty confusing. Meet the Germans presenter Rachel Stewart takes a look at some more English words that have been given a new meaning in Germany.

Rachel is on a mission to investigate the idiosyncrasies of daily life in Germany. Every two weeks she explores a new topic – from beer to nudity to complicated grammar.

Rachel moved from the UK to Germany in 2016. As a relative newcomer she casts a fresh eye over German clichés and shares her experiences of settling into German life. You’ll find more from Meet the Germans on YouTube or at dw.com/MeettheG

English words used wrongly

Deutsche Welle – There are lots of English words the Germans use wrongly. A German “Public Viewing” is great fun. An English public viewing? Not so much. These are typical false friends.

Rachel Stewart takes a look at some English words that have taken on a whole new meaning in Germany. Rachel is on a mission to investigate the idiosyncrasies of daily life in Germany. Every two weeks she explores a new topic – from beer to nudity to complicated grammar.

Rachel moved from the UK to Germany in 2016. As a relative newcomer she casts a fresh eye over German clichés and shares her experiences of settling into German life.

Lieber Armin Laschet

Bitte nicht immer “wir müssen” sagen, sondern eher “wir werden alles unternehmen, dass wir … erreichen”. Mehr zupackend argumentieren, der klare Wille muss bei den Menschen ankommen. Danke.

Please don’t always say “we must”, but instead more like “we will do everything possible, so that we … achieve more.” Argue more dynamically. Get across clear determination and willpower. Thanks.

That was the advice given by a German professor for information security and data privacy. As a comment on an article in LinkedIn.

Armin Laschet, the Premier (think governor) of Germany’s most populous state, Northrhine Westphalia, is the Christian Democratic Union – CDU (think Adenauer, Kohl, Merkel) chancellor candidate in the September 2021 federal elections in Germany.

German compound words

This video is pure genius. It gives superb examples about how the German language enables one to communicate very complex emotions in just one word, typically a compound of two words.

Futterneid. Kummerspeck. Luftschloss. Lebensmüde. Schadenfreude. The list goes on and on. Talk to your German colleagues about this. You’ll love the conversation.