Friday, July 5, 2013

The water, he does that

I had to call a maintenance person to fix the sink at work. A German gentleman turned up so I showed him the leaky sink. He explained the problem, and as he was describing it in English, he'd say things like, "the water, when he comes out of the tap, he does..."

Every time the maintenance guy said "he," referring to the water, I had to try to keep from twitching my lips into a smile. I had this image of a stream of water with eyes and arms, bopping around in the sink, since it was a "he" and not an inanimate "it." It was all I could do to keep from giggling (my dang imagination was getting me into trouble again!).

Luckily enough, I kept it together to finish talking and not start giggling uncontrollably. I also know exactly why the guy was calling the water "he;" in German, all words have a gender, even for things that aren't alive. When a person uses a pronoun in place of the noun he had been using, he would need to match the pronoun to the gender of the word. So, for example, if one were talking about "die Lampe" (the lamp, feminine), and then went to refer to the lamp using the pronoun in German, it would be "sie," which is "she," instead of just calling the lamp an "it." For English speakers, myself definitely included, this can seem a little strange at first.

The odd thing about the conversation with this man was that he called the water a "he." In German, it's "das Wasser," which is neuter. I'm not sure why he did that, but he did seem a bit rattled to have to talk to me in English so maybe he just mixed it up a bit.

Ich bin Wasser!

This is my extremely talented rendition of what I somewhat envisioned of Mr. Wasser. I created it on an online drawing website because I was feeling lazy. Someone commented on it in German, saying that he thought it was "ein blauer Baum," a blue tree. I found that rather amusing.

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