Germans rarely admit that they're wrong

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I told a friend that the correct word is sauce and not sausages many times and she still refuse to believe. Ah well.

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You can't apologise.

You can only ask for forgiveness. (Um Entschuldigung bitten)

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It is so true. Dated two zerman girls here and both times it ended because they did something incredibly insensitive and outrightly stupid and would just never admit they were wrong. It's the same with the students at University. They argue themselves silly and go to all the trouble to look something up themselves when it is obvious to everyone else that they're wrong.

 

E.g. - So we were talking about echo-location in bats. Now the bats emit two kinds of calls, one which is constant in frequency and the other which is a frequency sweep. Both are, of course, used for different purposes. Usually, but not always, the centre band-frequency of the sweep falls around the frequency of the constant frequency call. It obvious when the bat uses what: the CF call when it needs to judge distance (usually) and the FS when it needs to hunt and identify edible 'acoustic objects'. So this person who has never gotten anything less than a 1 in all the exams, got selected to represent our graduate programme at the Lindau nobel laureate meeting etc, asks me, "Why would the bat take the pain of emitting frequency sweeps? Why not just emit one high frequency call? That way it can sample objects of any size". I look at her as if she's daft and go, "Umm, because it would get really tiring for the bat"? And she goes, "Ah quatsch". I say, "No really, emitting high frequency calls of course involves the expenditure of more energy and is useless. If the bat is in a familiar environment, then it would just need to emit frequencies in a narrow range, and thus save energy". She would simply not admit that I was right and wanted to look up literature that indeed it takes more energy. I dunno if she's managed to find something to corroborate my statement.

 

Another time, just before my last ex and I broke up, I was to be in hospital for a week for some observation. They suspected I might have an acoustic neuroma (a benign tumour of the VIII cranial nerve that makes you hear weird tones: that's another thing by the way; the doctor would just not accept it wasn't a tumour. I admit I'm not a doctor but seriously, there are other symptoms. In the end, it just turned out to be stress tinnitus. But boy, did I end up poorer and lost study and work time). And I was living with my gf then in Berlin. And she decides to take a holiday to drive her 17-year old sister and her cousins to their beach house on the baltic coast. I was a little annoyed; I mean I was going to be in hospital and everything. She wouldn't admit to this day that she was wrong in abandoning me and going away on a holiday. Ultimately, that argument about duty towards your partner especially when your relationship is serious enough to be living together, drove me to get my priorities right and dump her.

 

But I still find their steadfastness cute. The look on their faces when you prove them wrong with solid proof in material things that you can indeed prove, is priceless :P

-----

 

A piece of advice from the great Ogden Nash -

 

To keep your marriage brimming, With love in the loving cup,

Whenever you're wrong, admit it; whenever you're right, shut up.

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Stress induced tinnitus? shit fella watch out I feel a kreislaufstörung coming on

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I have many examples of Germans never admitting they are wrong. I am an English trainer and I'm sure I could write a book. The one comment which always makes me smile or sometimes grit my teeth is where a student with just a basic knowledge of the English language replies when I am introducing new vocabulary is "I've never heard that word before in my life" hmmm along with 990,000 other words!!!

 

or

 

"I was taught at school to say sword" (pronouncing the 'w') When I tell them it's sword without the pronounciation of 'w' they tell me I must be wrong. Same with salmon, clothes, cupboard and many many more. I now do an exercise Words Commonly Misprounouced and try to introduce this as soon as possible in the course.

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Also I received a letter for 862 Euro for extra costs on my flat which I knew was impossible. Additionally a bill for 264 Euro for two months in 2009 when I moved in. After sleepless nights and a great deal of frustration, a neighbour helped me. It turns out I am paying for the flat next door and they received a 600 Euro refund. Have I got an apology, not a chance.

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I have many examples of Germans never admitting they are wrong. I am an English trainer and I'm sure I could write a book. The one comment which always makes me smile or sometimes grit my teeth is where a student with just a basic knowledge of the English language replies when I am introducing new vocabulary is "I've never heard that word before in my life" hmmm along with 990,000 other words!!!

 

or

 

"I was taught at school to say sword" (pronouncing the 'w') When I tell them it's sword without the pronounciation of 'w' they tell me I must be wrong. Same with salmon, clothes, cupboard and many many more. I now do an exercise Words Commonly Misprounouced and try to introduce this as soon as possible in the course.

 

Oh My God! How many times have I had the "Clothes/Closes" argument in my business ESL classes? Of course, I see it from the other side at the Gymnasium where I also work. Half the English teachers can't speak English. The kids come and ask me for confirmation which often makes heads explode later in the staff room. "Umm - could you tell me please if it's ok to 'call' someone on the telephone, or can I only 'telephone' someone? My English teacher says you are never allowed to just say 'call' in this context".

 

Uh huh...

 

Oh - I had a 45 minute long discussion with my business English students one night about the "Lake of Constance", and of course it's the Lake OF Constance and not just "Lake Constance" because that is what they were taught in school. I finally said "Which English speaking country did your teacher come from?". That stopped the conversation but the arguing parties would not say they were wrong. Homework for them was to print out the english language Wikipedia article on the "Lake OF Constance" and bring it to class the next week.

 

Never got done somehow....

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http://lakeofconstance.org/

 

put that into your bong pipe and smoke it...

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http://lakeofconstance.org/

 

put that into your bong pipe and smoke it...

 

Have you read the text? 'Lake Constance', 'Lake of Constance' and 'Lake of Konstanz', as well as plenty of other textual errors.

 

It's clearly written by Germans too proud to ask what is correct in English, which kind of proves Tokeshu's point really...

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Most people hate to admit they´re wrong. Wherever they´re from. But we have to accept that all of us sometimes are wrong. Me, too. Hate it!!! But it´s also good for the soul to realise , yes, I was wrong and admit it. You can feel better for admitting it!

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I was busily preparing this post and then I saw John’s post above. You’ve hit it on the head, totally!

 

But what the hell, I’ll post this anyway.

 

Here are a few paragraphs that I have collected from different sources over the years to help me understand the behaviour of humans, which may be food for thought for this topic and others raised on this site.

 

There are two ways of operating in life; Out of fear or out of love. You can't do both. Read on.

 

Everyone wants to be right. Some people will do anything to be right, even if they’re wrong.

 

Why is it, that being right is such a big thing with some people? Why can’t they be wrong? Can’t they just be human? Who cares if you’re right?

 

Children are taught from an early age to apologise when they’re wrong, because it’s the right thing to do. Yet, as adults, some forget this basic principle. Some make such a scene “defending their rightness” but most arguments are more about ego than facts, aren’t they?

 

And if you're operating out of ego, then you're certainly operating out of fear.

 

Yet there are definite advantages in admitting you’re wrong.

 

Only secure and confident people are strong enough to admit their mistakes. Only insecure people insist on being right all the time.

 

The moment people admit their mistakes and rectify them, they learn from that experience. It’s also character building. People respect honest people who are big enough to admit their mistakes. It is a sign of strength, if a person exhibits a willingness to take responsibility for their actions.

 

There’s a misconception that if you tell people you made a mistake, they won’t trust you anymore. The opposite is the reality. People will trust you more because they know you’re willing to tell the truth whether it’s in your favour or not.

 

When one tries to cover it up with lame excuses or by blaming others, they lose their credibility, not to mention being disrespectable. And we all hate an arsehole, don't we? But equally important is an ability to accept the fault, deal with it and just move on.

 

Most people don’t admit their mistakes because of fear. They’re afraid they won’t be forgiven. If someone admits a mistake to you, let them know it's okay. Share with them a mistake you've made in the past. This one act can give your relationship a bigger boost than years of no conflict. It shows you care and allows them to be human.

 

The bottom line is this ....

 

There is no such thing as a perfect person. There are only stupid people who pretend to be perfect. It’s all a part of growing as an individual.

 

Many of my life’s most valuable lessons come from the mistakes I have committed. And even as I learn from my own mistakes I need to be alert and learn from the mistakes of others too.

 

Smart people learn from their own mistakes. Smarter people learn from the mistakes of others.

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Taking things lightly is not a German strength.

 

So Frieda123, could you please explain to me, what you perceive to believe a German strength to be?

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I will, dear. With the amount of stuff I bitch about concerning the natives, they deserve to hear good things every now and then.

 

Loyalty. Once you melt those multiple layers of paranoia around their hearts, they'll be your friend for life and stick up for you even when it's something they used to bitch at you for themselves. LOL

 

I find this to be an amazing strength of many, many Germans I've met.

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Their innate innocent honesty, most of them. Their seriousness and earnestness is also a blessing in disguise many-a-time. Their attention to detail. Their thoroughness. I could go on and on. They're a great people, make no mistake. Everyone has their shortcomings. We just like taking their piss because we're in Zermany. And when in Rome..err...do the Romans und so.

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@ john g #170,

 

I don't disagree but I would differ slightly. Nowadays I don't hesitate to admit if I was wrong once I'm able to understand that I indeed was. 90% of the time its a genuine mistake after all not pre-meditated evil. The goal for me is to move on and hopefully salvage whatever can be of the situation, look for a solution or at least a mitigant instead of getting bogged down at one point, playing the totally fruitless blame game. Its just that in this culture the blame game ISN'T considered fruitless, its vital to the individual's sense of self-worth. How many times have I heard the totally insincere retort "Of course you are right, YOU win. Happy?" in bid to shut me up / out. No, of course not, I wasn't competing!

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Wow, does this bring back memories...I can't tell you how many times my dad said this about my German-born mom. The thing is that she usually was!

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@Dublinman: There are millions of websites around with German texts full of absolutely hilarious mistakes because English or French (or whatever) people have tried to write German to provide information for German tourists or customers. My attitude: I appreciate their effort and their thoughtfulness, even if I giggle at some of the funniest mistakes. I would NEVER use any of these pages as an example of how they are "too proud to ask what is correct" in German. Or is that a totally different matter because, well, because it doesn't support another of your stereotypes about Germans?

 

Apart from that, I totally agree with john g. I know a fair amount of "Rechthaber" (including myself, on occasion...) and not all of them are Germans.

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I think the importance of correct language varies depending on context. Perhaps something like this:

 

Social context - I would never correct someone's English unless the ask me to, or it is a barrier to communication. To behave otherwise would be rude in my opinion (Germans treat my German the same way).

 

'Informal' business communication - ie internal emails, memos, meetings - I would suggest alternative vocabulary or phrasing if it was of relevance, but generally not insist.

 

'Formal' business communication - It's really rather important that things are presented correctly. Anything else looks sloppy, cheap and unprofessional. If I am proofreading, or otherwise professionally associated with an English text, I see it as my job to speak up for correct English. I definitely include tourist websites in this category. (I would say the same thing about bad German on an Irish tourist website, by the way, and would never send a formal communication without getting the all-clear from my German partner)

 

English lessons - The teacher's job is to help students improve. Ergo, they know more. Why bother undermining this relationship and looking foolish in the process by contradicting basic and easily verifiable facts? I'm never going to tell a German teacher that Munich is in fact Münich in German.

 

Believe me, I am humbled every time I send an email in German, knowing it's full of errors, so I am sympathetic. But as far as I am concerned, both Tokeshu's students and that website are fair game for criticism.

 

Moral of the story: Be nice to your friends, tolerant of your colleagues, and don't argue with a mother tongue speaker about their own language.

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German culture is just another of many. Like all cultures, it has it's uniqueness and reasons for being that way.

 

Just as Americans or English or Russians find more comfort when surrounded by like-cultured people, Germans do, too... and all of us are quick to spot the differences amongst us.

 

For Germans, being German just feels natural, we expats will naturally feel uncomfortable with certain aspects of German culture... and as expected, criticize their ways. But then the Germans will also be pretty quick to criticize ours, too..

 

It's one of the things that we all have in common ...we're incredibly human...

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