Article moved to my English Blog (HeinrichDerNeunte)
There really is nothing particularly bad about stereotypes, in fact I cultivate a flock of them myself. But there is one that the English speaking world repeats over and over again until over the years (centuries?) it has been accepted as a fact and noone subjects it to critical analysis: Germans are rude and blunt. Dr. Huch disagrees wholeheartedly.
Ok, this is going to be a bit complicated, so lets assume that conversation between two people is always like a duel.
Duelling with someone in the tongue of my fathers (in my case, surprise, surprise, in German) means I have a vast choice of weapons for every occasion. Pistols, rifles, swords, sabers, rapiers, epees, daggers, guns of all calibers imaginable, poison, toothpicks, in short, everything you need for a civilized exchange of words, because you can be sure that your opponent knows the rules. His or her armory might or might not be better stacked than my own but we are more or less on even ground.
Now, all of a sudden there is someone else to deal with. My German language armory which has so well served me over the years will suddenly not help me in the least, because my counterpart normally will know little or nothing about my duelling culture. But, conversation necesse est, so I need to play by foreign rules. I roam my English armory, lots of cobwebs and a club. Nothing very useful for a formidable and eloquent dialog, but it will have to do.
The bitter consequence: My opponent hears me using his language like some stoneage Fred Flintstone, rough, raw and untrained, just barely enough to get the message across. He will see me as uncivilized, blunt, direct, rude…and why? Just because I was polite enough to duel him on his terms, just because he didn’t even bother to put as much as a nail file into his German word armory.
So folks, of course you still have every right to call me rude, but first let me see your skills with the verbal Schwert, Säbel, Degen, Florett oder Pistole…it’s your choice of weapons.