The French government must have lost its mind...

This is so ridiculous, it isn’t even funny! I suggest we remove countries who have medieval governments like France from the EU. I had to re-read this article several times until I came to understand that this was not an April Fool’s joke:

In a controversial move the French government has said that it will enforce a law so that the words ‘Facebook’ and ‘Twitter’ will not be allowed to be spoken on the television or on the radio.

President Nicolas Sarkozy’s colleagues have agreed to uphold a 1992 decree which stipulates that commercial enterprises should not be promoted on news programs.
Broadcasting anchors from now on are forbidden to refer to the popular social networking site and the microblogging phenomenon, unless it is pivotal and relevant to a news item.[YSaerTTEW443543]

TOEIC short conversations: Two friends update each other on their schedules[YSaerTTEW443543]

Well, I think there is nothing wrong with this decision. It’s a good decision by the way. Sometimes people get tired of hearying the words Facebook and twitter in every single second. Those companies in my view they even don’t need to make advertisements because of their popularity, thanks to radios and tvs. .

If we see and analyse carefully the reasons behind this decision, we will perfectly understand and maybe agree with the french government.

Reminds of the way communist regimes used to censor the language of the common people. It’s a bit like in George Orwell’s novel ‘1984’. Crazy French. Downright scary…[YSaerTTEW443543]

TOEIC short conversations: Employee is being briefed on how to get travel costs reimbursed.[YSaerTTEW443543]

I think it’s just as weird that Germany doesn’t let people under 18 get business permits. Or drive.

Before you start ‘a business’ you will probably need to work as a freelancer which is something you can do as a teenager in Germany. I don’t think there are many 15 year old business owners in the US. As for driving, you can drive a motorbike at the age of 16. In the US you need to give young people the permission to drive a car because you don’t have a modern public transport system or bicycle lanes in cities. We have both in Germany and throughout most of Europe.[YSaerTTEW443543]

TOEIC listening, talks: Introducing the next speaker[YSaerTTEW443543]

Sorry, Torsten. Sixteen-year-olds were allowed to drive in the US even when cities were more compact and most people had access to mass transit. Actually, to be more precise, in most states 16-year-olds can drive only if they have taken a driving course and have passed the state test. If they don’t take a course, they can’t get a license until they’re 18, even if they can pass the test.

One common phenomenon here is that many Germans visiting or living here think it’s vitally important for teenagers to drink alcohol, and they’re appalled that we don’t allow it here. That’s why one famous German CEO’s wife was arrested for providing booze to kids whom she then let out on the roads to drive home. She was warned by the police a couple of times, but she continued to do it and was finally arrested and went to trial. This is German arrogance to the point of self-destruction, but it’s a common mentality of Germans who come here.

There are teenagers in the US who do need to incorporate businesses because their idea or invention has become popular enough that they need the protection that a limited liability company would provide them. This includes children who have started everything from chocolate businesses to nail polish lines to electronics repair companies.

This is very strange. I’m German, and I never thought that it is vitally important for a teenager to drink alcohol. As a matter of fact, I abhor it.

In Germany, we have the Jugendschutzgesetz (a law for the protection of children and youths). It is not allowed to sell tobacco to children under eighteen of age. Neither are spirits and brandies, and drinks mixed with such. In other words, no hard liquor to minors. Beer, wine and champagne cannot be sold to children under sixteen. I believe the reason why there is a tolerance for beer and wine has its roots in history when beer had a much lower alcohol content than nowadays and truly was a nutritional “food” and wine, which had been watered down so the common folk could afford it. Back then, children drank beer and wine because the water wells were often dirty from washing clothes, and there was a fear in Europe that the Jews poisoned the wells of Christians. Still, I too, think that perhaps the law should be revised. There is a lot of alcohol abuse among students in Germany just as there is in the USA. Just take a look at “Spring break”, where they drink vodka through a straw, bending backwards over a table.

I don’t think American kids need a German CEO’s wife to get them the booze they want. In Kentucky, for example, I saw youths meeting at the mall’s parking lot, where they partied with moonshine in their hands. Lovely to have a distillery right in Daddy’s backyard. :wink:


Although I’m not fond of either, I think that anybody on this planet, who wants to say “facebook” or “twitter” should be able to do so, no matter whether it is into a microphone or through a paper roll.


I like the following quote by an American reader of the Daily Mirror:

This smells of pure Provincialism. The French jealously guard the ‘integrity’ of their local language. They seem to forget that a language is a living thing - in so far as it exists only because it is used by living beings to communicate ideas that are relevant at a certain place and time. Canonizing a language is a death sentence because it keeps the language from adapting to changing times and the changing needs of the people who would use it. Remember Assyrian? Once the most widely used language in the world of politics and trade? The language is dead because it was canonized, As the speakers of Assyrian died out they were replaced by people whose needs were not met by the old language - people who spoke the ‘new’ language. But again ‘Provincialism’ was invented by the French, nicht wahr?

Read more: … z1eZn8yCwF[YSaerTTEW443543]

TOEIC listening, talks: Voice mail announcement[YSaerTTEW443543]

Claudia, I was being a little sarcastic, but it is a fact that when I deal with Germans here (many, many Germans) a main topic of conversation for them is constant complaining that US states don’t allow people under 21 to drink alcohol. Even Germans in their 20s and 30s complain about this, because they see it as proof that the United States “takes away your freedom”. (It’s part of a pattern I notice of Germans constantly pointing out things they think prove that the US is not a free country. My impression is that they are trying to absolve themselves of what national guilt still remains since the Nazi era, and their way of doing that is to constantly point out things that “prove” that the US is “racist” and “not free”.)

Teenagers in the North do need someone to buy alcohol for them, because we don’t have a tradition of moonshining up here, and if someone’s mother found that some kid was hiding some fermenting beverage or other, there would probably be hell to pay.

The other thing they do a lot is try to demonstrate that “Americans are stupid”. Sometimes you’ll see a German’s business failing here because of outrageous, easily preventable cultural mistakes, but the German won’t adjust, because he thinks that if Americans weren’t stupid they’d do things his way. There are even famous cases of large German corporations having lost massive market share due to this attitude.

The French intellectual class is so paranoid about the entry of new English words into their language, while they use hundreds of English words that entered at a previous time and are now not recognizable as English. Nowadays some of the English words they object to are actually French words that entered English centuries ago and then returned.

This foolishness has its counterpart in the attitude of many of the British toward Americanisms being used on their soil. Often the person condemning them will use several older, domesticated Americanisms in his statement without even realizing it.

I hope this isn’t getting too off-topic, but at least this German lady here isn’t trying to prove that Americans are stupid because she knows they aren’t. And I’m not sure if you remember me, but if you do, then you know that I am not at all anti-American. I have spoken out on America’s behalf many, many times, even when Americans themselves haven’t.

The reason why Germans are trying to prove that America takes away your freedom, as you worded it, has nothing to do with the Nazi era and feelings of guilt. Most of the Germans who are doing this are much too young to even identify with the Nazi era anymore. Germans are not the only ones that dislike the American attitude. Actually, much of the world does. The thing is, with the slogan “the land of the free”, Americans are giving the rest of the world the impression that they think it is the only country on the planet that is free. And it clearly isn’t. So, Germans and many other “non-Americans” are trying to make you understand that by pointing out laws and restrictions in your free country.

When I first arrived in the US, I was being asked how it feels to be free. “Actually,” I answered, “I’ve never been in jail.”

In Illinois, teenagers are allowed to drink alcohol with parental consent. There are quite a few other states with the same exception to the rule. Other states allow youths to drink only at home when under adult supervision. I know you’re from across the lake, so I’m not sure how the law is in Michigan. Actually, not only Germans are complaining about the 21-years law. I remember a big controversy among American officials whether the prohibition on alcohol for persons between the age of eighteen and twenty is even constitutional, since the age of majority is 18 in all states except three.

Illinois is considered a northern state, and the teenagers there get their booze without problem. They don’t have a distillery in the backyard, but if Uncle Chuck doesn’t get the case of beer for their party, Uncle Bob will. It might be harder for American teenagers to get alcohol, but it is not impossible. In Germany, guns are outlawed. Does that mean that we don’t have any shootings here?

In almost every American city, there is a China town, an Italian town, an Irish town, and a Mexican town. If there is a German town, it is extremely small and heavily mixed with Polish residents. Why? Because Germans integrate. There are always exceptions to the rule, but the same cultural mistakes can be said the other way around. Just ask an Opel worker how he feels about the American method of doing business. Hear what he has to say about that.


Claudia, the Germans who come here do not succeed in showing us that the United States is “not free”, because all they’re doing is pointing out that the US is not an anarchy. We already know that, because we’re taught in 9th-grade civics about the difference between freedom and license. Apparently these Germans were out sick the day that lesson was taught at their school. They expect that “freedom” in the US means the ability to do absolutely anything you want with impunity, which is ridiculous.

I think the people here who asked you what it feels like to be free must have been the same ones who (quite seriously) asked a Ghanaian student of mine if she wore clothes in her country.

Most states actually did lower the drinking age to 18 around 1970, but the huge increase in drunk driving fatalities convinced them to raise it again.

And I won’t even get into foreigners’ ideas of what the US is like or what they think we do in the world. I know that Germans typically think that the entire US is California, that approximately 50% of the population is black, and that our banks will give you a rifle as a gift for opening an account (thank you, Michael Moore). The Spanish think we lie around on nude beaches. To see the distorted conception foreigners have of American life and behavior, you just need to watch what they do when they think they’re imitating us.

Beyond that, we get blamed for a lot of things we don’t even do, because dictators and others in some countries use us as a scapegoat for preposterous things, much as past generations blamed “The Jews”. A Greek or Swiss Internet service provider that hasn’t invested in enough technology to handle its peak traffic times will tell customers they’re being bumped off line because “the Americans” are all online during those hours. People in North Africa are told by their potentates that their unemployment is caused by the US, and not by all the corruption and poor law enforcement that drains their economy. Nigerian Muslims are told by imams that the polio vaccine was developed by the US to make black men sterile. There’s more fantasy than fact abroad about what the US is and does.

The reason there are no German towns in American cities now is not merely that Germans integrate here, but that life is pretty good in Germany, so we don’t get consecutive waves and waves of German immigrants. The Italian town and the Irish town, or in my city, Greek town, largely consist of ethnic restaurants and bars, but the Italians, Irish and Greeks who own them are scattered out in the suburbs with everybody else. The people in the China towns aren’t the same ones who lived there 20 years ago, because those people moved out to the suburbs and sold their places to newly arrived people. It’s the same with the Mexican towns. And everybody intermarries. I know this, because in my neighborhood the kids with the Arabic, Greek and Asian names familiar to me from childhood do not look even remotely Arabic, Greek or Chinese a generation later. A white family owns the Chinese restaurant, but it has never changed hands. It’s the same family that ran it when I was in high school, but they don’t look Chinese anymore.

The only ones who don’t integrate are certain (usually less educated) segments of the Polish and Irish community, who retain an ethnic jingoism generations after all knowledge of the original country has faded. Usually they have little or no contact with people who are actually from Poland or Ireland. Half of them are mixed with some other ethnicity, but they’ve decided to identify as Polish or Irish. They’re like the freckly green-eyed redheads you meet who insist they’re American Indians.

Jamie, you say you have been dealing with a lot of Germans in your area. Now, what you say about those Germans doesn’t reflect what I know about Germans when it comes to describing life in the US at all. Nobody of my relatives, acquaintances, partners or friends fall into the category of Germans you describe.

If you ask the average German to describe the US, the first thing that springs to their mind is Texas, followed by California and Florida. Only a tiny little faction of all Germans might think that the entire US is California. Those are the people who skipped school and have great difficulty reading and writing let alone using the Internet.

TOEIC listening, talks: Transportation announcement

Or they have advanced technical and business degrees and work for large German steel and machinery companies. The typical German I meet who thinks and says the things I say they do is a “Betriebswirt”, so he has something like an MBA.

It is not about succeeding in convincing Americans that the United States isn’t free. It is about pointing out that the United States isn’t the only free country in the world and that it, too, has restrictions that compromise true freedom. Of course there need to be laws so a country won’t slip into complete anarchism. Also, I don’t consider anarchism to be synonymous with freedom. The thought of freedom as in doing whatever you want is, of course, naive, but not only typical and unique of Germans. I’m not even sure if there is such a thing as true freedom, as even nature has laws, mathematics has laws, and the universe has laws. It really is more about bringing Americans back down to Earth whenever they flaunt their oh-so-free country. And they DO flaunt their “freedom”.

I was asked how long on average I had to wait in line to get a loaf of bread. If I’ve ever been in an elevator before. If I was able to use swear words in the street. If Germans put up Christmas trees on Christmas. Hello? The tradition of the Christmas tree IS German!

As awkward and hurtful as these questions were, in hindsight I realize that I shouldn’t have taken offense. They were questions, after all, which is a sign of showing interest and wanting to know more about my culture. I shouldn’t have gotten defensive about them, but rather shown photographs and talked more about my heritage, and introduced them to my homeland that way. This is what I regret. But now, it is what I admire most about many Americans: they ask. They do not claim to know everything about anything.

I don’t think we can compare the 1970s with 2011. Back then, Flower Power was in “full bloom”, the sense of rebellion in youths was much greater, and the need to expand one’s mind with the help of drugs (including alcohol) was rampant. Also, education on health and environment was close to zero. It was a different kind of mentality. Awareness and education has improved since then. There is a different kind of sense of responsibility. Not that I’d want to change America’s legal age for drinking; I think it’s fine. Every country can handle this matter as it sees fit.

I concur with Torsten. Most Germans identify Americans with Texans. Just as Americans identify Germans with Bavarians. Germans don’t think America is 50% Black. No, they think that Blacks are a minority who is still struggling for equal rights and in some areas still kept as slaves. They think that every American carries a gun at their hip. That the death sentence is legal in all of the states. And that all Americans eat are hamburgers. I hear you when you know go “Ooph”. :slight_smile:

But I don’t think it is only the uneducated German who harvests these misconceptions. I encounter them in all kinds of social classes. I knew an engineer who had a totally warped picture of the US. We’ve had the longest, most passionate conversations about America, and no matter what I said, he refused to believe me. I lost touch with him before he went to the US with his boss on business. I met him again by chance about a year later. He said, “You know, you are right. It was completely different from what I thought. And the people there are fantastic. I had such a great time!”

That’s the thing: almost every German who visited America says he had a great time. Here are even so-called “America-fans” (lovers of America). They go there on vacation every year because they enjoy the country so much.

There are also a lot of Americans who are German-fans. They studied in Heidelberg or who knows where, or were stationed somewhere in Germany. When they hear that I am from Germany, they beam with joy and say “I had such a great time!”

In my opinion, it isn’t school education that makes the difference, but setting one’s foot in the other country.

And even then it takes time to fully comprehend and understand that the misconceptions are just that: misconceptions.


I don’t understand why you are so terribly shocked about this, Torsten! Being glued to the computer screen all day long is not such a good thing after all! :wink:

There is propaganda everywhere around the globe. The media is known for warping information to achieve a certain sentiment among their viewers. Also, even though reporters and journalists are supposed to be neutral and objective, they are human and their stories will always reflect their feelings. Some countries propagate misinformation more than others, and dictatorships are the worst of these, but its being done everywhere. The media may not lie to you straight out, but it leaves out important tidbits of info, so the whole thing comes across differently than it actually is. They need headlines to meet their quotes, which is another reason why they dramatize rather than inform.

The last “wave” of European immigrants was in the 1920s. After that, the conditions in European countries improved enough for many to stay in their homeland. Around a quarter (or perhaps a bit less) of the American immigrants even went back to Europe. So, there were no consecutive waves and waves of immigrants after that.

Even if these “towns” are only restaurants and businesses, and the owners are living scattered in the suburbs, it is still nice to see that they are retaining their heritage. Germans generally integrate to such an extent, that their children, the second generation German-American, doesn’t even speak German while immigrants of other nations continue to speak their own language at home while learning and speaking English outside.


Speaking of the media leaving out tidbits of info, I was reading a French book on the US subprime crisis that crashed the world economy, and it fully blames it on the banks and completely leaves out the role of the US Congress and regulatory agencies that forced banks to lend to unqualified borrowers in the first place. It’s trying to explain the situation while leaving out 50 percent of the information.

The last wave of European immigrants to the US didn’t happen in the 1920s. It’s happening now. This time they’re coming from Albania, Ukraine, Poland and countries out that way. German families don’t lose their language any faster than any other immigrants here. Generally the second generation from any nation can’t speak the parents’ language well, if at all.

As far as groups “preserving their heritage” after assimilating in the US, they don’t actually preserve their heritage, but just what they imagine is their heritage. This is why it’s embarrassing, for example, for an Irishman to go to an American Irish festival, or a Pole to go to an American Polish festival. The “heritage” on display is always a grotesque exaggeration of the old country’s traditions mixed with strange things that the Americans of that heritage have simply made up from their imaginations. One crazy example is that Polish-Americans hold “polka masses” at their parishes. They’re regular Catholic masses, but the music is polka music with religious lyrics. People who are really from Poland find these masses horrifying, because they don’t think drunken pub music should be played at mass. We have a Czech and Slovak ethnic organization in my area, and they believe they’re preserving those nations’ traditions, but they don’t know anything about them. Last year I told some people there how St. Nicholas Day is celebrated in the Czech Republic, and the president of the club got angry at me because he thought what I described was horrible, and he didn’t believe me.