The exclamation mark in German vs. English
29.Oct.2007 - 11:15 hrs
A colleague sent an email to [s]myself[/s] me and a third party with the addendum 'Kat can you set up the account!'
I am the correct person to ask for what was needed, but he's not my boss, and has no business barking orders at me. I wrote him back explaining that his formulation is considered a bit rude in most countries. Despite having very good English, he was genuinely astonished and glad to know this now. It just didn't seem necessary to him to formulate it as a question and add 'please'.
I've seen this often from Germans and it really gets on my nerves. Can anyone explain their injudicious use of exclamation points? (!)
Small Town Boy
29.Oct.2007 - 11:25 hrs
Dunno, it's an English thing as well. I just spent the weekend removing exclamation marks from a professional presentation written by a fairly senior figure in an international company.
29.Oct.2007 - 11:29 hrs
Yes, Germans do tend you be very liberal with their use of the exclamation point. And yes, it is annoying as Hell to native speakers who have to read their e-mails (although they do it in German, too). I have no idea when it started, but don't bother trying too hard to educate them about how the outside world reacts to their constant !'ing at the end of the most mundane and non-urgent requests.
My personal theory is that it's just another result of the fact that the "subtlety center" of their pre-frontal lobe is generally inactive.
29.Oct.2007 - 11:32 hrs
How 'bout the ALL CAPS they seem to savor?
29.Oct.2007 - 11:33 hrs
I wouldn't have said that was rude. It just looks in the wrong place to me.
Perhaps you could teach him the difference between can and will. 'Kat , will you please set up the account for me?' .
29.Oct.2007 - 11:33 hrs
I can handle one exclamation mark but I often get emails from Germans with several exclamation or question marks which drives me nuts. Over punctuation, if at all necessary, should be reserved for emergies only, not day to day affairs. It comes across as overly aggressive.
Wann treffen wir uns zum Abendessen???
29.Oct.2007 - 11:52 hrs
I was working in North America and I happened to ask politely a secretary nearby if she got a call for me that came her way would she please give me a shout. It was an open office but unbeknown to me it was a separate department. This women went blue with rage and screamed at me to get back to my department – like 12 feet away. I honestly thought she was going to tear my face off. I had a flashback to this event when I read your post Kat.
29.Oct.2007 - 12:02 hrs
I too have found !!! and ??? quite surprising. But when I 'translate' these back into German, I remember that Germans use them much more often we do in English. In order words, an exclamation point is much less exclamatory auf Deutsch than it is auf Englisch.
29.Oct.2007 - 12:13 hrs
I asked my colleague to consider the difference between:
'Give us ten push-ups now, soldier!'
'Would you please demonstrate 10 pushups, Private Benjamin?'
29.Oct.2007 - 12:17 hrs
A colleague sent an email to myself and a third party with the addendum 'Kat can you set up the account!'
"Myself" is a reflexive pronoun. That means it reflects back to a previously used or implied pronoun. It does not and cannot stand alone in English. "Myself" can only appear in a sentence where the pronoun I or me was already used:
I went to the store myself. (because someone else I'd asked to do so didn't)
I myself don't care for black pudding. OR I don't care for black pudding myself.
"Myself" is not a subject:
Myself went to the store.
"Myself" is not an object:
She gave myself the documents to sign.
Stop it already. You sound like a twat when you say "myself" instead of "I" or "me". Honest.
29.Oct.2007 - 12:48 hrs
I wouldn't take that too seriously, myself.
29.Oct.2007 - 12:49 hrs
What drives me really nuts isn't just punctuation, but how the Germans will write a very long paragraph consisting of a single sentence which, while my German has gotten good enough to actually enjoy watching TV and reading newspapers, makes me sometimes lose track of just what the actual subject could be because the predicate seems to be taking over, plus, of course, the confusing grammatical clauses where the verb is split in two with the second, larger section of the verb embedded somewhere at the beginning while the first bitty part of the verb is stuck at the very end and can change the whole meaning of that long sentence which really should be split up into at least five or six separate sentences with periods of which the Germans seem to have a real shortage!
29.Oct.2007 - 12:51 hrs
29.Oct.2007 - 12:58 hrs
@Keydeck - so I got it wrong then? I actually did hesitate about the usage of 'myself' for a mo before I posted, but 'myself' just sounded right to me there.
29.Oct.2007 - 12:58 hrs
That is why I never got past page two of "Absalom, Absalom" by William Faulkner...
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