How Germans Turned Into Almans Posted by Sten on Jan 27, 2020 in Culture, Language
Ah, the Germans. Attached to stereotypes of Pünktlichkeit (punctuality), Ordnung (order) and Gesetzestreue (law abidance) above all else, they have a distinct culture and lifestyle. But how could you encapsulate this in a term? What says “German” like nothing else? Alman, apparently. Let’s have a look.
Making fun of Germans
Don’t think we Germans are not aware of all these (embarrassing) stereotypes – we certainly are, and we love to make fun of them! Take, Stromberg, for example, the German take on the hit series The Office. In the video above, you can see clips from different episodes of Stromberg und die Frauen (Stromberg and women). While he thinks he is the greatest Chef (boss) there ever was, who has a guter Draht (“good wire”, meaning “good relationship”) with women, he creates awkward and offensive situations around them. The setting of the Kantine (canteen) where the conversation revolves around what to have, trying to understand women by reading women’s magazines like Brigitte, speaking shoddy English are typically German things.
While you may now think about Spießer as a fitting term for such German behavior, I tend to agree with you. But there is a new kid on the bloc:
The word is Turkish for “German” and was made popular by Turkish people in Germany, who increasingly used it to refer to typical German behavior. There is a nice definition on Urban Dictionary.
There term isn’t free of controversy, though. In 2016, when it was at its peak, there was a discussion whether the word Alman was deutschfeindlich (anti-German) or meant as sarcasm. That whole saga has mostly been forgotten, and what’s left now is the word Alman as a sarcastic and self-ironic noun to describe typical German behavior. The clear difference to Spießer is that Alman is broader: it does not only include typical Spießer-behavior, but any typical German behavior. In turn, this makes it a more inclusive word, that non-natives can also identify with, if they show German behavior. Apparently, it is not uncommon for Turkish parents to call their child Alman for showing typical German traits, for example – and that’s not meant as a bad word at all!
In 2019, an Instagram page, called alman_memes2.0, became very popular very quickly. Everyday (pünktlich um 11 Uhr! (exactly at 11 a.m.!)) they post a new meme. From love affairs for Tupperware and Schnitten (sandwiches) to Eifersucht (jealousy) of Nachbarn (neighbors) and Freunde (friends), the page has nothing it won’t make fun of. A few weeks ago, a short documentary was published about the creators of this Instagram page that you can see above. Sina and Marius are at the helm of the daily persiflage and they explain what it is all about for them.
Sina makes it clear: “Es geht auch darum den Alman so ein bisschen durch den Kakao zu ziehen.” (“It’s also about pulling the alman’s leg a little.”)
They admit that they behave like total almans as well, and that it really is a kind of Selbstspott (self-mockery).
They not only make the memes themselves, but also fill the captions with a rich backstory of Alman-Achim, his wife Anette and their son Andi and daughter Annika. Regular appearances are Anette’s friends Biggi and Steffi and Achim’s Bruder (brother) Ralf. From being smart in the supermarket with collecting points, saving a few cents or finding a way to minimize the waiting time in the line to taking all their travel essentials on trips, such as their sandwiches in the appropriate Tupperware and printed tickets.
And the followers are eager to add to the stories and share their own experiences in the comments to the posts.
What do you think about the word Alman? Have you behaved like an Alman before? Let me know in the comments below!
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