Languages and politics

Sitting in the jungle somewhere in the nowhere in India, a lot of things are going through my mind. Politics from a distance can give you a whole new look, a new perspective.  We all know Merkel, the most powerful woman in the world and a driving force in the European Union. We talk about her, we discuss her clothing style and know her diamond gesture she always does with her hands. We support her or criticise her.

How much do we understand what she is talking about?

Which phrases does she use?

She is actually quite hilarious, while she always keeps her morals and ethics strongly with her. But a lot of people say, her phrases are empty.

Who is Angela Merkel?

She is now 65 years old, born in 1954, and has served Germany as chancellor since 2005. Most of her childhood was spent living in the GDR. Merkel started her political life in the wake of Revolution in 1989. Before her political career took off, she became a physicist and when asked by the Stasi (the Ministry of State Security in the GDR) to spy on her friends and colleagues, she declined. She used the excuse that she could not keep secrets well enough to be an effective spy. A good prerequisite to become the most powerful woman in the world.  It is said that her life in the GDR influenced her way of dealing with crisis now as a chancellor.

Angela Merkel quotes

Das ist richtig und wichtig.

One of the most constant phrases she uses is “Das ist richtig und wichtig.” It states: “This is correct and important.” It shows a justification for her decisions as much as how important this certain decision is. Her style of politics is objective as well as factual and this statement supports her style. But even more, behind these few words also lies a moral approach. She appeals to our moral sense, our intrinsic knowledge of right and wrong. 

Das Internet ist für uns alle Neuland 

One of her most well known phrases is from a press conference in 2013, where she stated that “the internet is new soil for all of us”. The media scoffed at her for saying this, showing that she is one of the old generation, who is not even in 2013 able to keep up with new technologies, even though she tries.   But lets give this phrase a little closer look. All that was scoffed about is only this small first part of the phrase. Merkel did not end here.

The second part is actually quite intriguing and shows her concern and future view for our societies. She says: “…and, of course, it also enables enemies and opponents of our democratic order to endanger our way of life with completely new possibilities and completely new approaches.” Taking into consideration fake news and violations of our rights, she saw and sees the danger, that the internet can also hold for us. In this sight, her beginning statement makes more sense, hence all of us do not yet know, what the Internet holds for us. Good and bad.

Jeder hat seine Art, zurückzuschlagen. Schweigen kann’s auch mal sein. 

At a TV show called “Anne Will” Merkel said in 2009 that everyone has their own way of fighting back. And sometimes silence can be one way. This is such a typical statement of our chancellor. She is efficient, objective and places her words at the right time in the right way. I have never seen her having a fall out in a speech. She is mostly controlled and even if she gets upset, her way is to rather become quiet and to analyse the situation. 

Alles, was noch nicht gewesen ist, ist Zukunft, wenn es nicht gerade jetzt ist. 

Speaking of Merkel getting into uncomfortable situations in which she has to be diplomatic, or wants to avoid the direct answer, you will hear her saying something like this. In a book presentation 2012 at the Kanzleramt, she said “Everything that has not been yet is future, if it is not right now.” Sounds quite philosophical right? It could be! A lot of people would claim these are empty phrases. But they always also have a true core. Angela Merkel is often referred to as a woman of not many words. And here she states quite clearly that something that has not happened yet, cannot be discussed. All that counts in this moment and that is valid to be panicked about, is this present moment. 

Wir schaffen das.

This is, for me, one of the most strongest phrase she ever used. And maybe one of the most important and intense ones. When the 2015 refugee crisis in German started and went onto its peak, Merkel stood strong and tried to unify the German people as well as Europe. She had strong values and those values she explained in a press conference in Berlin in the Summer of 2015. 

Her phrase is an encouraging plea that we can overcome everything. In its sentence lies the we as a unified Germany and Europe. She was in good hope that this crisis can be overcome politically and socially and integration as well as tolerance would shine ahead our ways.

Wenn ich da immer gleich eingeschnappt wäre, könnte ich keine drei Tage Bundeskanzlerin sein.

This phrase is quite a sarcastic one, where we get a glimpse on Merkel’s emotions. Replying to Vladimir Putins reaction to her criticism about his human rights policy, she stated: If I was always miffed (about all the criticism that comes towards me), I could not be chancellor for three days. In this phrase she made clear what she thinks about politicians, debates and reactions that involve emotions and are not factual. She does not like them and has the guts to also say that openly. She also says in this phrase that any politician has to bear with his critics in a democratic set-up.

Now let us get into the section of phrases, which Angela Merkel got famous for,  when she described what represents Germany for her, which feelings it evokes or how she sees herself. You will see, she can be quite hilarious.

angela-merkel-hands

Angela Merkel’s famous phrases

This is a double pack out of: “Meine Liebe zur Kartoffelsuppe” and “Ich zerstampfe die Kartoffeln immer selbst!”

In an interview in the Bunte people’s magazine, (and many times before already) Merkel spoke about what represents Germany for her the most and what she likes the most. She also spoke about her secret for that particular speciality. A drum roll please… it is: German style Potato soup! There are several YouTube videos on her perfect recipe and Germans sympathise with Angela Merkel because they share the same fondness for this traditional dish. In this Interview, she also spoke about the secret, how to make the perfect Kartoffelsuppe. It is important to mash the potatoes with a “Kartoffelstampfer”(potato masher) and not in a blender, so it will still have texture. Another secret was revealed then too: She always mashes the potatoes herself!

I will have to try her recipe. My mum only cut the potatoes and never mashed them. As you can see, there are so many different ways to make the one and only Kartoffelsuppe!

Ich denke an dichte Fenster! Kein anderes Land kann so dichte und so schöne Fenster bauen.

This is one for me! Since I am in India, I know exactly what Angela Merkel was talking about. She was asked in 2004, what sensation is awoken in her, when she thinks about Germany. And guess what she answered! Yeah right, the windows! She thinks about the airtight windows. No other country is able to build such nice and airtight windows, she said. I agree with her. Windows are the essence of Germany.

Typisch Merkel!

In her last speech as the leader of her political party CDU in 2018, she described her own style of communication. She explained her first slogan in 2000, when she was elected to represent her party in Essen, which was “zur Sache” meaning “down to business”. The people then did not know what she meant. Down to which business? Who? When? Why? How? She jokingly told this story and said that even back then, she was already using her style of little words. The “typical Merkel” style, which often makes her seem unapproachable or distanced to a lot of Germans.

”merkeln”

Last but not least a verb that she never said herself, but that got very famous in 2015 and even became the youth word in this year itself. As we all know, the youth always comes up with new expressions in their language. In this case, being unhappy with Merkel’s indecisiveness and empty phrases, they came up with a term explaining exactly that. Merkeln means to not make a decision and to avoid saying anything substantial so as not to upset anyone. This term also resonates with the previous phrase, where Merkel states herself, that her style is one of little words that can be questioned and might give not too much information for the recipient.

Merkel has so many other statements to look into, that are philosophical but also hilarious and full of slapstick humour. Jump into one of our classes to learn more about these expressions and how to express never forgotten phrases yourself. What are you waiting for?