Friday, December 28, 2012

JS and CPE are in the house

America is the land of first names. Everybody is called by their first name no matter if you just know him for a minute or for years. Even famous or dignified celebrities are called by their first names in the media. Sometimes you even come across the president being called Barack instead of Obama or Mister President. My German ears really need to get used to this. At least Angela Merkel is always Angela Merkel and not colloquial Angie like German comedians prefer to call her. Although I got used to call my bosses by their first names (which I already learned in the Netherlands) I still flinch from time to time in that first name world. Really funny however, is the designation for Johann Sebastian Bach and Carl Philipp Emanuel Bach. It is already funny that Americans call him "Bak" instead of the German version "Bach" and I needed a couple of month to actually decipher who they are talking about on the radio. Even worse is that they would refer to the father as JS and to the son as CPE. Call me old fashioned, but to me that sounds like some 90's rapper but not the baroque composer. 

Well, I should stop ranting about "Americans". Germans probably also say many international names funny, at least my GPS does in the German mode, and I ran into trouble already a couple of times making fun of how people say names. For example, when I have been in the Netherlands I was joking about the Dutch way of saying "Ünox" just to learn that Unox is a Dutch company and Germans actually say it wrong. The same was true for Dr. Oetker, which we would pronounce "Ötker" but the Dutch say correctly a "u" sound at the beginning of the word. 

At least I recently achieved to say my own first name in a way that every Starbucks employee can understand and spell it correctly...