What the Hell’s up with the Thumb, Germany

I am having a tremendous time in my intensive German course. The class itself is a wonderland of chic Parisian-Taiwanese women, joke-making Turkish men, an American teenager who drinks astonishing amounts of Coke during the breaks, and various Columbian, Brazilian, Romanian, Thai, Iranian, Pakistani, Mexican and Irish folks who produce a rainbow of accents in German. Our instructors have boundless enthusiasm for acting out words that we don’t understand; these range from ‘listen’ and ‘write’ to ‘divorce’ and ‘mothertongue’. It’s awesome.
The multi-state representation is refreshing when, together, we encounter German habits so foreign to us that we are allowed to call them idiosyncracies. To wit:
-today our teacher told an obviously proud and somewhat shy newly engaged man that engagements are not recognized by the state, that they ‘don’t count’. We made up our own word for kind-of-married.
-both teachers use a system for counting that involves a multi-finger switch between 3 and 4, and which starts with the thumb to represent 1. Thumb and index finger are 2, add the fuck-you finger for three, then remove the thumb and add ring and pinky for four. This is so shockingly poorly engineered that I cannot believe it didn’t get ironed out sometime during the industrial revolution.
-We learned the alphabet today, and found that, while Germany has added a letter to represent s-z, no better solution was devised to differentiate the cursive I from the J than to allow the J’s ass to drop below the line. That’s just lazy, Germany. I’m disappointed by the oversight, especially when the capital I (as written here) is such a crisp, symmetrical product.

In other news, the Irish lady from class reported today that she imports her butter from Ireland – it’s creamier and saltier than German butter. I can’t tell you what a relief that is! I was worried that I wouldn’t find anyone to help me normalize my bags of beans; I didn’t dare dream for a butter-bagger! Thanks, Irish butter lady.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *