Thursday, June 9, 2011

Sometimes, "You" is just enough

In many languages, such as Spanish and German, there is a formal and an informal way to address "you" (second person singular): tu and usted in Spanish, and du and Sie in German, respectively. The problem is, the pronouns for the formal voices are very similar (if not identical) to the pronouns for other voices.

Let me make the situation VERY clear with what I did yesterday.

In case my teacher is reading this, es tut mir SCHRECKLICH leid, wirklich!!


My classmates exasperate me. That's unfair, not all of them do. Actually, only two of my classmates (out of 12) exasperate me. Seriously. I want to hit them sometimes (but physical aggression is illegal here in Germany). They get into these absurd, pointless discussiones with false (and fake) arguments. Tuesday is my least favourite day, and at the very last class (tired, sleepy, hungry and cranky), they got into this discussion: The Police is Singular and Plural. Well, no, the teacher explained: you can't count police, like one police, two polices. You can count policemen, like one policeman, two policemen (the discussion was in German, but it actually works perfectly in English and in Spanish, as well, since the institution, the Police, is always singular). So here they are, arguing about this stupid, pointless issue, just being mean at the teacher and making her waste time... so, in order to avoid saying something rude (ha... that backfired) or mean, I just tuned out. At some point, my teacher addressed me to ask if I could (in English) explain why police is singular - since I was tuned out, I said (in German), "Excuse me, what? I just decide to not pay attention to them sometimes." In retrospective, that was extremely rude and ambiguous, because in German the previously underlined "them" could refer to "my idiot classmates" AND ALSO TO "my teacher". She looked at me, appalled, surprised, with a mixture between uncontrollable anger and sadness. Me, her best student, so inconceivably rude? No way.

To make things better (better for the story, worse for the situation), I proceeded to say:

"Manchmal sie sprechen nur shit, wissen Sie?"


Now, if you read that (and you know some German), you will COMPLETELY understand what I mean: "Sometimes they only talk shit, you know?"

But... if you only hear this (and you know some German), it is possible that you may have understood what my teacher understood:

"Sometimes you only talk shit, you know?"


Lesson Learned No. 1 - Natalya, keep your aggressive comments to yourself, in every possible language.
Lesson Learned No. 2 - Natalya, watch out for your yous.
Lesson Learned No. 3 - Natalya, wtf?

Yes. Sometimes, just one little "you" is enough.

1 comment:

  1. lol...maybe next time point or signal who you are speaking of(although that is rude too, but what the heck!). But I totally understand you on the topic of stupid conversations, in my course they once stopped the class just because wether "wine" was der, die, das by itself needed to be clear. They could not understand that it changes depending if it is a bottle or wine, a glass or wine, or a whatever of wine....pfff I also signed off from that discussion and many more....hahaha. Maybe some topics are VERY important for some cultures, while not so much for others, or maybe some people just like to make a discussion out of anything.
    Have a good end of the week!

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