All the German you need to know

December 24, 2016

 

I look for words that are unique to a people's hearts -- whether they are conscious of it or not.

In three decades of looking at Germanness, four words are always in the forefront of my mind.  Words with no English counterpart.  Thus, not concepts natural to the English speaker's mind.

 

Nachhaltigkeit

Sustainability, yes; but without undue, or disproportionate effort.  After a well-planned beginning -- perpetual motion.

 

Weltanschauung

(I have no time for political correctness. The idea that a particular word has to be "thrown out:"because some historical figure used it, is ridiculous.)

Who am I and what is my place in the world?  A world that I can make sense of and can easily explain to a fifth-grader.

 

Ausbildung

A continual lifetime striving to grow and get it right.  A German is never satisfied: Got to get it better.  An engineering mind, yes; but this extends to every area of life.  A lifelong compulsion or inner drive towards maturity and perfection.

 

Auftragstaktik

Largest goal is understood but tactics are flexible, and initiative is pushed to the lowest level.  Beyond simply cross-training there is a responsibility and accountability to get it done with or without supervision.

 

Many people around the world find speaking German, with all its complexities, to be very difficult.  If a person knows no other German words, I have been using the four above for years as a way to help understand what it means to be German.

 

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