Monday, 3 February 2014

Rant No. 3: "Hallo!"

“Hallo!” obviously “Hello!” in English. A greeting, a friendly interaction.

Nope, not so obvious. Not here in Germany.

“Hallo!” is actually a way to point out the misdoings of others, to shame them into behaving properly: Get out of the bike lane, don’t cross on the red man, why haven’t you got your lights on, etc.

“Hallo!” must be said in a high-pitched sing-songy, sarcastic and patronising manner for the full affect to be achieved. Germans and especially the older generation of Germans are very practiced at this.

Luckily, it’s not something foreigners have caught on to, maybe because we can’t get the tone-of-voice accurate enough, or simply because this kind of interruption or rebuff on our actions actually bugs the hell out of us!

1 comment:

  1. Actually, I used this successfully today when some drunkass sketchy looking guy who smelled like a Kneipe and was holding a beer bottle in a brown bag, and smelled like a pack of cigarettes, tried to squeeze in to a tiny sliver of seat between me and next the person on the subway. Mind you, I am 35 weeks pregnant and he almost sat on my bump so I said very loudly so the whole row heard me "HALLO! Ich bin schwanger!" He stopped trying to sit and made one of those "Ach!" sounds and then stood the next few stops... Public shaming worked in my favor in this case. :)