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I am a localization manager/translator and intercultural consultant living in Berlin (Germany), passionate about languages, cultures, diversity management, body art, dancing, self-empowerment, coaching, effective communication and, last but not least, vegan gluten-free food and good movies.

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Tuesday, June 2, 2015

Singleness made in Berlin - #2. Or how to recognize if you spent too many years flirting in German

Taking big decisions, changing life, switching from a situation to a new one, starting a new business or trying out a different hobby or activity can be challenging and scary, but also very rewarding, in the long run, if one is ready to accept the pain, the discomfort and the uncertainty in the first place, as Mark Twain beautifully said:

Twenty years from now you will be more disappointed by the things you didn't do than by the ones you did do, so throw off the bowlines, sail away from safe harbor, catch the trade winds in your sails.
Explore, Dream, Discover.
Mark Twain [pen name of Samuel Langhorne Clemens, 1835-1910]

Something like this can be mind blowing, but it is for sure not everybody's cup of tea.

[One popular motivational Internet meme:
The magic happens outside the comfort zone]

Same same but different, they say. 
We are all human beings, we have the same needs, we know the same feelings and we experience the same emotions, even if we learn to show and express them in different ways, depending on variables like culture, country, familiar situation, education, gender, age etc.
And yet we all are going to die at some point and so we should take the most out of our days

What does 'take the most out of someone's life' actually mean is not so clear, even if one could think that such thing is evident for every person. But it is not.
Some people love new shiny things and situations and want to try all they have a chance to and to push themselves and their limits, while other people just don't and consider leaving their comfort zone stressful and not necessary at all. 
Not everybody has even the same idea about what 'comfort zone' actually means and how one should deal with it.

[How would you describe your comfort zone?]

Flirting in another language means for sure in most of the cases being outside one's comfort zone and being willing to try out a different kind of game even if one sometimes doesn't know the rules, to take some risk, to enjoy the ride anyway and to accept that one could also lose. Because one can't always win. 
Some very important tools of the trade for this special kind of game involving intercultural communication: a good amount of emotional intelligence, fair play, self-confidence and self-awareness, being able to not take everything personally and to lose without being a jerk. 

[Another useful tool while flirting in another language:
a good poker face]

As a game, flirting in another language can be interesting, tricky, funny, complicated, challenging and rewarding. All at the same time.

One can observe human interactions and group dynamics from a special point of view, pay attention to fascinating sociological aspects, have fun while flirting, gain new insights about people and cultures, or just make a fool of himself/herself if things should eventually go South.

It is different in every language, and in every language, one has a chance to show different sides of his/her own personality and to improve important social and language skills, while dealing with another culture, different role models, different expressions etc.

[Flirting, discussing and using irony in another language 
are among the best ways to improve one's language skills]

Most German native speakers (and please notice the word "most", it is not really possible to generalize too much) while flirting in their own mother tongue tend to flirt in a very indirect way - in comparison to the vast majority of people from Mediterranean countries, for example.
Over time expats living in Germany that deal with Germans in a romantic way while using German as their main language for that could get used to sentences like:

G - Wie wäre es mit einem Film zusammen? Wollen wir ins Kino gehen?
Q - "How about going out for a movie?" (= Do you want to go out with me?)

A - Ja, es ist keine schlechte Idee.
A - "Yes, it is not a bad idea" (= Yes, this is such a great idea!) 
A - Ich habe nichts dagegen.
A - "I have nothing against it" (= Sure, I would really love it!)
A - Können wir machen / Kann man machen / Könnte man machen.
A - "We could do it, yes" (= Sure, I am in!)

My favorite one? "Since you are a not bad-looking woman, you could be a big distraction" (= You are a very attractive woman, I can't take my eyes out of you).
So romantic and brave, don't you think?!

Aurélie, so einfach ist das eben nicht
Hier haben andere Worte ein ganz anderes Gewicht
All die Jungs zu deinen Füßen wollen sie küssen, auch die Süßen
Aber du merkst das nicht
Weil er dabei von Fußball spricht

Wir sind Helden, Aurélie
(Die Reklamation, 2003)

At the beginning guessing the real meaning of such sentences and trying to translate them into something more clear could be confusing and frustrating, but day after day and maybe misunderstanding after misunderstanding one gets to the point where he/she realizes that the simple fact that someone is still in touch with them already means that they are interested, even if they don't say too much about their feelings or wishes.

[Human feelings and emotions as colorful drug prescriptions
What do you need, darling?]

So the sentences become more indirect, more ironic, more like a perfect example of reverse psychology, where one says something and means the opposite or is being very sarcastic or cocky while talking to someone they actually like a lot.
Someone could consider this behavior more appropriate for children in a kindergarten than for adults theoretically aware of their sexual, emotional and personal needs, but it doesn't really matter, after all, if both players know the rules of the game and somehow agree to play it. This becomes then the new reality of the players and it is definitely possible to adapt to it and even to enjoy it.

However, one has spent too many years flirting in German if he/she is not able any longer to recognize a way more aggressive flirting style and needs some time to get used to it again or, even worse, he/she needs that the person trying to flirt with them explain that they are... ahem... flirting. Yes, indeed.

So if someone tells you "You have crazy eyes" while meaning "You have amazingly beautiful eyes" and your first reaction is thinking they mean instead "You look like crazy" or "Your eyes are like spirited", well... you definitely spent too many years while flirting in German. Shame on you.

[Dame Elizabeth Rosemond "Liz" Taylor [1932-2011]
was famous not only for her talent, difficult character 
and for the crazy love story with Richard Burton,
but also for her so called Violet eyes... maybe they were also crazy?!]

Shame on me.
Sigh.

Tags: Singleness, Love, Relationships, Dating, Flirting, Intercultural communication, Lyrics, People, Quotes, Foreign language, Learning a language

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