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Die Deutschen mögen Babys sehr gern

A (Ful)bright Future

Die Deutschen mögen Babys sehr gern

Olivia Wilkins

One stark difference between America (at least small-town America) and Germany is how people interact with others in public. In small town USA, smiling at or saying hi to complete strangers on the street is normal, and striking up conversation with someone you’ve never met isn’t unheard of either. In Germany, however, these behaviors would mark you as a tourist. Germans generally don’t interact with stranger.

When I am in public with Günther, people seem to forget to ignore us. It is apparent that die Deutschen mögen Babys sehr gern, and they are not shy to express this.

Guenther on one of our many walks in Koeln, bundled up on a rainy day in the sweater made for him by my Nana.

Some of the common phrases I hear auf Deutsch when out with Günther are listed below.

Ganz klein! Literally, wholly (ganz) small (klein), or tiny. In English, people don't sweetly say, "Tiny!" at a passing baby; "Ganz klein!" is the equivalent of longer bouts of admiration like "That baby is so small!" or "What a tiny baby!"

Süß. Sweet or cute. Again, whereas Germans say this one, short word at the sight of a baby (always with the same, almost drunk from baby cuteness, smile), auf Englisch you are more likely to hear more words (e.g. "Your baby is so cute," "What an adorable baby").

Schön. This is an interesting word, mostly because I haven't quite figured out what it means. Schön can mean a number of things, including beautiful, nice (e.g. Schön Tag!), lovely, pretty, or handsome. Regardless its literal meaning in the context of carrying around a baby, "schön" is a nice compliment I'm happy to receive.

Wie alt? Usually this question, meaning "How old?", follows "Ganz klein!" Luckily, this question and how to answer was one of the first things I learned in German 101 at Dickinson, so I feel confident in answering, "Sechs Wochen."

Gueni channeling his frog onesie at three-weeks-old.

Having Günther in public and observing Germans react has shown me one of my favorite things about German language. Although the language is often characterized as very strong and even harsh, it often has a way of saying things more eloquently in fewer words than in English. And that, I think, is sehr schön.