Cultural Differences Between Germany and Britain

I love reading the daily tweets by so very British, as they seem to strike a chord with me every time. With 824,235 followers, it appears that other people feel the same way as me too. Their tweets all come under the hash tag #VeryBritishProblems, and give a typical phrase that a British person might say, along with its perceived translation. For example:

“Fancy a quick half?” – Translation: “Fancy going to the pub for as long as possible?!”

From reading these, it appears that there is a well documented stereotype that British people tend to say one thing and mean something completely different! As a result, I began thinking about whether German people have common stereotypes too and whether we share any common traits.

There has actually been a considerable amount of research done on the cultural differences between the British and Germans. I’ve listed the most common differences below from both the British and German perspective.

Common German stereotypes Common British stereotypes
German people are direct/abruptBritish people are polite and take a long time to get to the point
Germans have a hard exteriorBrits are very open and welcoming
Germans aren’t very good at small talkOverzealous British small talk can lead others to question how genuine they are
Germans are perfectionists and want to get things right with everything they undertakeThe British are quick-witted
Germans are efficientThe British can be devious

 

OTHER DIFFERENCES BETWEEN OUR CULTURES

A study on sleep patterns has shown that Britons sleep an average of eight minutes longer than Germans and spend an extra five minutes in bed, whereas Germans rise straight away and get on with their days. This could be a reason (coupled with their efficient nature), why German people are always faster at setting down their towels next to the pool whilst they’re on holiday!

DOES ONE NATION COMMUNICATE BETTER THAN ANOTHER?

We certainly cannot say that either country has superior communication skills as each is completely unique, has its own rules and patterns of behaviour that are neither right nor wrong. Every country has wonderful differences between them as a result of their unique histories, politics and culture. I’ve listed a few facts about both countries below that I hope might be new and interesting to you.

SOME INTERESTING FACTS THAT YOU MIGHT NOT KNOW ABOUT GERMAN CULTURE

  • Germans are the second largest beer consumers in the world, after the Irish!
  • The most popular German surname (Nachname) is Müller. I wonder what impact that has on the sales of the Müller yoghurt in Germany?!
  • There are 35 dialects of the German language.
  • 65% of the Autobahn (highway) has no speed limit.
  • Legend has it, that when JFK visited Berlin, he infamously said “Ich bin ein Berliner,” which is translated as ‘I am a jelly doughnut’, instead of saying ‘Ich bin Berliner’ (‘I am a citizen of Berlin’). However, this seems to be an urban myth. According to many German people, it would have sounded odd if Kennedy had have said ‘Ich bin Berliner’ in his speech, as he clearly had a heavy American accent and wasn’t from Berlin. Instead, what he said, was completely spot on and translated as ‘I am one with the people of Berlin’.

SOME INTERESTING FACTS THAT YOU MIGHT NOT KNOW ABOUT BRITISH CULTURE

  • The British drink more tea than anywhere else in the world
  • Chickens outnumber humans in Britain
  • There are over 30,000 people with the name ‘John Smith’ in Britain
  • Britain has the highest rate of obesity in Europe
  • Britain brought the world soccer, rugby and polo

SOURCES:

  1. http://www.german-way.com/history-and-culture/cultural-comparisons/cultural-comparisons-part-4/
  2. http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-europe-13545386
  3. http://www.express.co.uk/expressyourself/327238/What-the-Germans-really-think-of-you-Brits
  4. http://www.germanprofessor.org/culture/
  5. http://confessedtravelholic.com/2012/08/69-fun-facts-about-the-uk.html
  6. http://confessedtravelholic.com/2011/02/69-fun-facts-about-germany.html

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