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Why remorse seems to be the hardest word (German)

Why remorse seems to be the hardest word (German) Even with the best of intentions, real meaning can be lost when different races are in contact
BOLSHY BERLINERS: The capital is home to the rudest Germans, says columnist Tanit Koch - Credit: Corbis via Getty Images

Why remorse seems to be the hardest word (German)
Even with the best of intentions, real meaning can be lost when different races are in conta

"Hello Tanit, I hope you don't have a hangover," I read, nodding. "Can you upload files soon?" I was not. Not soon, though. But I felt very fortunate to have an English editor.

Or I miss the deadline writing friendly emails. A German email with a similar purpose could read: “You are running out of time. And. Everyone is waiting for you. "

There is a possibility, however, that as a native I may have missed the point completely and an Englishman who learned to read between the lines would translate it for the full reason: “You are running out of time. And. Everyone is just waiting for you. "

But because it was not explained to me that way, my German still dwells on the idea that I escaped being late because the British people are patient, forgiving and truly respectful. And it's really disgusting - even though I probably shouldn't have written it here, he might change his tactics - so that someone would ask about your well-being and care about you, after so much wine and concoction, that I had informed him earlier.

As islanders who are well versed in the artistic combination of 'please', 'I'm sorry', humility and kind demeanor, you have to find us and our distinct interpretations. But we are not, in fact. At least not by Teutonic standards. Among the Germans, only Berliners are considered tough. And that, because it is. Tip: If you are in the German capital and have been identified, just go back. It will earn you respect (or a dark eye), and the Berliners can become a favorite type, once you pass the test.

We are racist, too. US citizens (“Amis”) are often viewed with suspicion as being out of touch with reality. Can genuine friendships be more appealing to us? I don't think so. But compared to the UK, there is not much of Bitte und Danke in the public domain here. At least all of them are “sorry” (probably because of the four collections in the Ent-schul-di-gung). According to Royer Boyes' book How to be a Kraut, the English language has at least ten uses of the word “sorry” (all seemingly apt). Ours: maybe three, and only if you are a woman.

A colleague, of high stature and age, asked me years ago: "Why do you always apologize?" I wondered: “What gives you the idea, why should I do it?” “You always say 'I'm sorry'!” I had never seen the danger of being taken literally, as a real apology - and maybe I was just being polite. But there is not much second guess in German. English, on the other hand, adds that extra layer so that we can be clear. For proof please go to Google "Anglo-EU translation guide". Here is an example:

What the British have said: That is a bold proposal.
What the British have said: You are crazy.
What the Germans will understand: They think I'm brave.
Or ...
You say: It's very interesting.
You say: That's obviously nonsense.
We will understand: They were impressed.
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So when you talk to a German, just remember: We are not talking about code. We will call you with an invitation to "let's have a drink sometime". White wine or limoncello. He decides. 

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