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Understanding Berliners – Part 1
“Die Berliner Schnauze”, which means “The Berlin Tongue” or “The Berlin Mouth”, is a term used to describe the mannerisms associated with Berliners, specifically their tendency for getting straight to the point and saying what they are thinking or expressing how they feel. This often gets them the reputation of being of being ‘cold’ and unfriendly, mainly because, if you do something to inconvenience a Berliner somehow, they’ll never hesitate to scold you. However, it is said that the reason Berliners always say what they feel is because they have very big hearts and that they are only “speaking from the heart”. Perhaps… But the fact is that this seeming unfriendliness is something that only happens between strangers. Once you get to know Berliners better you’ll find them far friendlier, and in fact you are likely to find them to be very genuine and without hidden agendas. This comes from their honesty and directness, and in many cases Berliners can be some of the nicest people you could ever meet. They key is: “be patient, and don’t judge people on first impressions”.
That said, Berlin has made big efforts and ran campaigns to help change forever the perception that the city is unfriendly or unwelcoming. Berlin’s official website, Berlin.de, launched a campaign in May 2009 called Herz & Schnauze to ensure Berliner’s would make an extra special effort to be friendly and welcoming to visitors during the celebrations of the 20 year anniversary of the fall of the Berlin Wall. The Berliner Morgenpost also featured an article on this subject. You can read a somewhat imperfectly translated version, courtesy of Google Translate, via this link to the Berliner Schnauze article.
Some people think Berliners stare at them a lot, especially on the U-Bahns and S-Bahns. I can say that it has been a major problem for me. Maybe people on the receiving end of an unbearable amount of stares are particularly good looking, or maybe they are just a little too self-conscious. However, there are so many people that say they’ve experienced this staring that it must be true.
There’s a very long thread about it on the German-based, English-language forum, Toytown Germany and all advice-givers insist that Berliners generally do not stare out of disgust or out of any racial or xenophobic predisposition, but rather, they are just curious about anyone that stands out for any reason, which includes unusual clothes and hair. If you look interesting Berliners will look you up and down and examine you, and people say that they do not consider this to be rude and do not realise that it makes non-Berliners feel uncomfortable.
The trick is not to let it bother you, and the best way to do that is not to notice that it is happening. I find reading on the train is a great way to pass the time, and it will give you something else to think about other than whether people are looking at you. I was never much of a reader before, citing a lack of time as an excuse. So for a long time I had at least 40 mins every day in which to read… it’s better than nothing. During this time I discovered and finished some great books, and if you don’t like to read, just bring your iPod, close your eyes and drift away in a world of your own. Don’t miss your station though!
People say that there are more dogs than children in Berlin. I’m not sure that this is a factual statistic but there are a lot of dogs. This will become quite evident when you walk around Berlin. Almost everyone seems to have a dog, and because dogs are allowed to go almost everywhere, including shops, trains and restaurants, people take full advantage and take them with them almost everywhere they go. Visitors might find this somewhat unhygienic, but you will at least notice how well trained, patient, calm and well behaved almost all the dogs are. Berliners train their dogs well and the dogs are so used to being around people and other dogs that the excitement is all gone and it is just normal to them.
Previous blog article by Evo Lucian -http://www.ota-berlin.de/blog/2011/02/17/my-favourite-berlingerman-beers-and-the-winner-is-rothaus-pils-tannen-zaepfle-%e2%80%93-by-ota-berlin-constituency-blog-contributor-mr-evo-lucian/
Understanding Berliners – Part 1 – by OTA-Berlin Constituency Blog contributor Mr Evo Lucian from OTA Berlin is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 3.0 Germany License. If you use this article or parts of it, please refer to http://www.ota-berlin.de.