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The house page the the German newspaper Die Zeit contains a poll, as websites of the internet are no to do. Yet there’s a twist! rather of questioning what the polls ask us in America (DO YOU to trust OBAMA??!!) and also then clicking us off to what certainly seems choose a legitimate net place that I’d favor to offer my email and also other pertinent details to, this poll is i was delegated by Die Zeit itself, and also asks however one question:

Wie geht es Ihnen heute?

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If friend answer GUT, a message comes up and says “It pleases united state that you speak you space doing well!” Screengrab: DIE ZEIT

This query — pronounced vee gate ess EE-nun HOY-tuh—may be acquainted to anyone that has ever gone come the very first day that German 101 and also then had the Hose scared off them; colloquially it way “How space you today?” but literally it way “How goes it through You (the formal ‘You’ ns Don’t Know very Well Or who Works In a Bank) today?”

As in our culture, the is regularly the very first thing German-speakers say once they greet every other, after Hallo or Guten Tag (or, in Austria, the great Servus). Pals use the unshened Wie geht’s dir? and also many civilization often abbreviation it come Wie geht’s? If you desire to sound like a dork who definitely isn’t a indigenous speaker, you deserve to do the thing that ns for some reason blurble increase every 4th time i greet a German friend: Wie geht’s/wie steht’s? (vee GATES, vee STATES?). And if you want to sound like Joey indigenous German Friends, you say: Na…wie GEHT’S denn so?

So, we’re all good on the question part. Germans, like Americans, gain asking every other exactly how it’s going. Cultural SIMILARITY!

Here’s wherein it gets different. When Americans ask this question, they median I definitely don’t care and I’m going to stop talking to you in about 20 seconds. once Germans asking this question, they don’t necessarily demand honesty, but they definitely won’t it is in surprised if it is what lock get. Indeed, ns haven’t done a peer-reviewed scientific survey or anything, however I’d speak the most usual answer to Wie geht’s is Na ja…es geht (NA YAH, ess GATE), which basically method What the posesthe ever, i’m still alive, and is certainly not how you desire to answer the lady at the snack stand in 1997 if she asks girlfriend if you desire ketchup through your fries, she claimed for no reason. (“Zat…was wrong,” laugh my girlfriend Christoph, and then he laughed and laughed and also laughed part more. I acquire IT CHRISTOPH, ns FUCKED UP. JEEZ.)

Here is a list of agree answers to the American concern “How’s it going?”

1. “Great!”

In German, on the other hand, just around anything goes. Indeed, the only thing you can’t answer come Wie geht’s is ich bin gut, which literally converts to “I’m good” however actually way I to be a very an excellent person, you bastards. Whereas even completed grammarians such together myself regularly substitute, in English, in the adjective good for the adverb well because it’s colloquially accepted to do so and also anyone who answers I am fine is an insufferable pedantic fuckface, German grammar is (I think ns gonna have a love attack and die from nicht-Überraschung) somewhat more stringent.

To wit: the Ihnen and dir in Wie geht’s are in the dreaded dastardly Disney rogue of cases, the Dative; the way you prize in complete (and the reason plenty of German 101 students hotfoot after job eins), is Es geht mir , or, if you’re gift schmancy, Mir geht’s . The means, technically “It walk come me,” and the dative building signifies the ephemeral, nearly Buddhist, state of one’s emotions; “it” goes v you in whatever way “it” will.

So, in German you can’t say friend “are” anything (gut, schlecht, lebensüberdrüssig, schadenfroh), however you can certainly say you space feeling everything the hell you space actually feeling, and also your convo partner will not pull a face and also then do a prolonged series the Tweets about Toxic negative People In Her Life.

The German propensity for blunt honesty — and our own propensity for Being Positive also when our Republic is engulfed in a grease fire that world keep dumping water on and also then going Don’t phone call me no to put water top top a grease fire, girlfriend elitist libloser — is what leads to statistics such as the human being Happiness Report, which claims Americans room the 14th-happiest world in the entirety world and Germans simply the 16th-happiest, also though they have actually ubiquitous bike paths and also eight mainly of paid vacation a year and also we have actually open treason in the greatest office the the land, and also Chicago Med.

AND YET. The Zeit poll’s results? Somewhere around 70 percent of that respondents over the past two months and counting to speak “it” is walking gut. (The job of i beg your pardon this poll is a part has been energetic since March.) and Zeit reader are amongst Germany’s an ext intellectual (and for this reason grumpier), for this reason if something the sample is biased toward the crotchety.

Once girlfriend answer the poll, she then motivated to offer a one-word summary of your mood, and also the Zeit operation a role of some of the responses it it s okay over a 24-hour period, separated into “good” and “bad.” They run the gamut from frischverliebt (FRISH-fur-LEEBT, or freshly in love!) and zukunftsfreudig (TSOO-koonfts-FROY-dig, or happy because that the future — jeez really?) on to arbeitsüberlastet (ARE-bites-oo-bur-last-et, or overwhelmed through work) to the rather redundant schlechtgelaunt (SHLEKT-guh-LOUNT, or in a bad mood).

SO numerous GERMAN EMOTIONS. Screengrab: DIE ZEIT

As you can see, the Teutonically ethical full selection of human fee-fees is over there (as well together a complete list of common ailments, from Grippe, or flu, come Rückenschmerz, or backache) — but still. Seventy percent of those emotions (or absence of ailments) space positive. Germans, however dour they can seem once you’re talk to them, room happier 보다 they sound.

But why? space Germans favor Gen-Xers, where it’s just cool to be miserable and hate everything, therefore they’re only comfortable revealing their secret opposite-of-shame on anonymous Internet surveys?

Are Germans the contrary of net trolls? Or is the something even more nuanced than that, wherein the kind of blunt, unsmiling default es geht state is its own sort that happy? Americans space certainly much better at being fake-happy — I once had actually to offer a fake-happiness indict in Austria because that my friends that were about to relocate here—but probably real happiness has much more room for, friend know, scowling and telling everyone you’re having a shitty day.

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My Austrian colleagues made a authorize that said WE DON’T require SUNSHINE. WE have actually REBECCA! because of my sparkling personality, obviously. Photo: Rebecca Schuman

Of course, this likewise could all be moot, and also the Zeit poll’s surprising outcomes could likewise just be because of the heinous bias of the survey: Shockingly, there’s no response bubble because that na ja, es geht.