Re: scouting's goal
Rodger Morris (rlm@SUNED1.NSWSES.NAVY.MIL)
Thu, 10 Nov 1994 15:39:02 PST
>As I am known for being a hot head at times... I find Gregor to be well
>within his rights. Having traveled as I have, and speaking German, I do
>not find him to be offensive, even in the most liberal of interpretations.
>I used to be a Beaver...
We have a cultural difference operative here that is typical of Germans and
Austrians interacting with Americans in international business. This
bluntness is not considered to be a verbal attack, as indeed it (usually) is
not. This directness and bluntness of verbal expression by Germans and
Austrians is noted explicitly in one of my textbooks on international
business, with the caveat that this is the norm in Germany.
Also, Gregor's syntactical usage of English is that typical of a German
speaking individual who has learned English in school, but has not spent a
prolonged time in an English speaking country, and who does not use English
daily as his language of choice.
(Correct me if I am mistaken in this assumption, Gregor) This mirrors my
situation vis a vis German, except that Gregor's English is, on the whole,
better than my German or Spanish.
This doesn't even take verbal and non-verbal cultural pitfalls into account.
Most travelers have unwittingly committed social gaffes in other countries.
Here was one I made:
In 1971, I was hitchhiking through Germany. I spoke German well enough that
most Germans didn't realise that I was a foreigner until after speaking with
me for about five to ten minutes. However, it was school German that was
almost entirely devoid of common slang (die Umgangsprache, in German). One
person who picked me up was so delighted to find an American who had
actually gone to alot of trouble to learn to speak German that he took me as
a guest to an establishment that I _think_ was a rough equivalent to an
American country club.
There, I was introduced to the game of "Fussball", which became popular in
the U.S. about 15 years later. I lost each game by an absurdly high margin
(i.e., the Germans scored almost at will, but I couldn't seem to score at
all). Finally, I got a good lick in and the puck _almost_ scored. I said in
Suddenly, I heard a mass intake of breath from those within earshot. My host
told me sternly that that sort of foul language was not permitted in the
club. I had no idea what he meant, and I told him so, and told him what I
had said, and in which language. At first, he didn't believe me, but then he
decided I was telling the truth. He explained the situation to the other
Seems they thought I had said "Mist!!!", which was a contraction of a then
current vulgarism, "Scheiss und Mist" (shit and stink). Once that was
clarified, we all had a good laugh at our mutual misunderstanding, I learned
a German expression that they don't teach in high school or college German
classes, and I went back to losing at Fussball.
It happens, folks. Remind me to tell you sometime how I, then a U.S. Navy
officer in uniform, was almost shot and arrested on a felony charge in Spain
about seven weeks after I arrived with no Spanish language proficiency when
I tried (in Spanish) to tell a sergeant in the Guardia Civil (Civil Guard)
that I had groceries in the back seat of my car.
Yours in Scouting,
Rodger Morris, email@example.com
Scoutmaster, Troop 852, Ventura County Council, BSA
National Woodbadge 416, Philmont, 1973
"I used to be a Beaver..."
Terry Howerton Sakima Group, Inc. SCOUTER Magazine Kansas City