The facebook audience of the ZDF (a German public-service broadcaster) is fuming. Their favourite program heute (“today”) showed “additional interviews” instead of live coverage from Cologne. “When there’s an air crash, do you first arrange lengthy interviews with rescue teams and search parties, or inform about the flight,  the place of the crash, the number of the passengers, etc.”, asks one comment. “By that  time they hadn’t received any instructions from the government yet”, ironizes another. „Lügenpresse” (“the lying press”)  is a frequently reiterated characteristics of the ZDF (and, I believe, of many other media). Now and then you come across the following insertion from the ZDF editorial board: “Dear user, we have deleted numerous vulgar comments. You’re (also) violating our netiquette and, to some extent,  the personal rights of other people. Please make an effort to concentrate on the subject matter of the discussion! Greetings from the editorial office of”

I liked the politeness of the wording the editorial board used , and went to the ZDF website. Interestingly, they reported about protests against the new media law in Poland ( “…Thousands of Poles went out into the streets today because they are concerned about the independence of their media”, spoke vigorously the newsreader. I smiled inwardly: the pot calling the kettle black.

As a linguist, I was happy to have picked another proverb. One of middle-of-the-road  FB commentators called on his peers “to leave the church in the village” (…aber man sollte die Kirche im Dorf lassen und nicht übertreiben). The meaning of this German expression is “to keep a sense of proportion, not to get carried away.” The origin of the proverb goes back to the medieval times when religious processions were organised in villages. When the procession was too numerous and the village too small, the participants left the church and marched outside the village. Thus, the events round the ZDF have helped me to improve my German. Well, it’s an ill wind that blows nobody any good (in the sense: it’s not altogether bad if someone benefits from it) 🙂


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