Monday, April 16, 2012

Mix-Up Monday: Commands

Nothing like a mixed-culture relationship to bring out how stereotypical you are for your culture. We have really noticed this lately when it comes to commands, or telling people what to do.

She is much more American about it than she ever realized. First he ignored it (aka, didn't notice it (she thinks^^), then he tried to figure it out, and now he is just more confused then ever. Whenever she wants something done...anything, she very often phrases it as a question/suggestion. In the last day alone she has asked him, "Do you think the dishes need to be washed? " "Should you get a plate now?" "Does this need more salt?" The list goes on and on and on (he wants to add that it goes on and on and on past that too!) At first he did not really notice it because to him a question was a question and he did not always need to answer. Now he very often asks her a question back: She: Does it need more Salt? - He: Do you think it needs more Salt?  Then she started to repeat what she wanted over and over and he got that it must mean do it, not think about it! She never even noticed that she did it until he started to point it out. He says that the questions aren't questions, they are just commands formed to sound like nice suggestions and they drive him crazy! The other night she asked, "Do you think we need to take out the trash?" and he took it out because he assumed it was another one of those question-commands. She swears it really wasn't, she was just asking! (he adds: blablabla)

German style (e.g., him) is about as opposite as it gets. He isn't rude but if he wants her to do something he says it. "Give me the salt, please." "Can you get the remote?" She says that he isn't always being very nice about it, he says he is being clear. She says that she is always nice about it, he says she just confuses him.

The difference can even be seen in the two languages. In English, commands are written as normal sentences except for the sentence order is changed. "Go do your homework." In German, commands are always written with an exclamation point, "Go do your homework!" Giving the appearance (at least to an American) that commands are being angrily yelled.

Now that we know we do it, it isn't a big deal. The misunderstandings give us a good laugh. Besides, she isn't complaining...sometimes he gets so confused he takes out the trash, washes the dishes, and does the laundry :)

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