Help! My Woman is Becoming a Baby! A Look at Become and Bekommen.

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ƒƒ FALSE FRIEND

Glauchau (Saxony), GermanyPolice in Saxony are getting a great laugh over a traffic incident on the Motorway A4 in the direction of Frankfurt (Main). Shortly before pulling off the route at Glauchau-Ost, police pulled over an Austrian couple, whose wife was in the process of giving birth. The officer, originating from Russia but having lived in the state of Saxony for 13 years, cracked up when she saw that the woman in the car on the passenger side was in the process of giving birth, but her husband responded to her claim of him speeding:

“HELP! My woman is becoming a baby!”

Before going further, look at the sentence and ask yourself why this is wrong. Did you find the difference?

If not then here’s a hint: The officer can speak Russian and English both like a native speaker. Now can you make the difference?

 

DEFINITION:

If still not, then let’s have a look at the word become.  Become has a similarity to the German bekommen just because of the spelling with a couple minor exceptions: in German, it’s replacing the C with K and adding another M.  Sadly though, the meaning of the two are clearly NOT different.  Here’s the simplest explanation to clear this up:

BEKOMMEN means a person is receiving something, whether it is a gift, message, etc. The English equivalents to the German word include: get, have, receive, secure, earn (money), gain, collect, take (from someone), introduce and welcome (someone new to the group or team), as well as accept (something from someone).

BECOME on the other hand means in German SEIN WERDEN, or something similar, as can be seen in the link. In other words, it has something to do with the person being something in terms of appearance, action and behavior. It can also have something to do with an object being something or forming something to make it different. In short, BECOME has to do with the LOOK.

 

FAZIT:

Keeping this in mind, let’s go back to the story: It did have a happy ending for the officer gave the driver a warning for going 25 kilometers per hour too fast and gave him a free ride to the hospital, which was on the opposite end of the city and required going through the city center. A happy ending for everyone and the family.  However, the Russian officer, who has two children of her own, gave him a lecture on English. You can imagine how it went:

Next time, it’s not woman but your wife. And it’s scientifically impossible for a grown adult to become a baby, let alone a woman. She’s getting a baby, or you can say She’s giving birth, She’s in labor or she’s having a baby. Got it?

He understood although from my own personal experiences, a person could technically become a baby if he/she throws a temper tantrum, especially over a bad grade on a test. But that’s a different story for a different time.

 

ACTIVITIES:

A. Determine whether these sentences are true or false. If false, please correct them.

  1. André will get a police officer after he’s done with the training next year.
  2. Jason will become his teeth pulled out next week.
  3. The basketball team got the win over Munich last night.
  4. I’ve become irritated over his constant absence from class.
  5. Jackie became an engagement ring from her long-time boyfriend Kalvin last week.
  6. They became married at a small church ceremony last Saturday.
  7. They’ve become a newlywed couple.
  8. Lindsay will become an award for her years’ experience at a ceremony next week.
  9. We’ve gotten more experienced in this game.
  10. How often per month do you get your weekly newspaper?

 

B. Complete each sentence using get or become. Please pay attention to the verb tenses

  1. Chris _______ in late to class today.
  2. The teacher __________ annoyed of his tardiness.
  3. Romy _________ 23 out of 45 on her test in math.
  4. Her parents __________ a notice of her failing grade from the school this morning.
  5. Ingo and Timmy ___________ detention (Nachsitzung in German) this afternoon because they were fighting.
  6. Principal Ingrid Younker____________ a superintendent of the school last week. She ___________ the post when Mike Kuntz retires at the end of the school year.
  7. The school _________ no coverage by the media. Nevertheless, it ____________ popular place for students to go to.
  8. The teacher ____________ tired and decided to go home.

 

C. Now translate the sentences in B. into German. Notice the difference between English and German in terms of the use of become and bekommen?

 

D. Translate the following sentences from German into English. Please note that there are some variants possible. Pay attention to the verb tenses as well.

  1. Der Angeklagte bekommt eine Freiheitsstrafe von drei Jahren und eine Bußgeld von 20,000 für seinen Tat.
  2. Patrick wurde als Chefkoch im Restaurant vor einem Jahr ernannt .
  3. Die Eltern haben die gute Nachricht von ihrer Tochter über ihre Geburt gestern.
  4. Mein Computer wird langsamer. Ich weiß nicht was mit ihm los ist!
  5. Hilfe! Meine Frau bekommt ein Kind und wir sind verfahren! Kann jemand uns helfen?

 

Author’s disclaimer: The story of the Russian police officer in Saxony is entirely fictitious; however the phrase “My woman is becoming a baby!” was actually said during an English oral test at a school in Germany.  The names of the students, the teachers involved, as well as the place and name of the school were omitted to protect their identities. Inquiries on these are not desired.

 

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A Split’s a Loss: At Look at the Mid-Term Elections from an Expat’s Point of View

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I would like to open my analysis with a comment that was made in the film “Look Who’s Back,” a German satire film released in 2015. In one of the final scenes in the film, when the character Adolf Hitler (the reborn version, played by Oliver Masucci) is shot by the person who had discovered him and traveled with him throughout Germany, Fabian Swatziki (played by Fabian Busch) only to re-emerge as if he was unstoppable. The comment is as follows:

“I cannot be defeated because the people supported me. If I’m a monster then so is the public because they elected me.”

When waking up this morning to realize that the prophesies of the Democrats taking over the entire Congress- the House of Representatives and Senate- failed because of a split in control, the first thought came to mind was that film, the rise of the far right, the inability to stop it and this particular comment.  Anger, defeat and confusion followed. The first question that came to mind was why is it that despite several firsts  (first Muslims, Native Americans, homosexuals and women being elected to the House and Senate) that Donald Trump succeeded?

Let’s look at how politics work in Washington briefly and why this mid-term was so important. When a proposal for a law is introduced, it first goes to the House. If approved, then it goes to the Senate. If the green light is given, the president can sign or veto the bill. The Democrats managed to regain the majority of the House but lost out on the chance to claim the Senate, while the Republicans extended its majority by three more seats. While in theory, the House can stop every bill that Trump introduces, while at the same carry out investigations into his corruptive schemes he had with Russia in 2016 and other issues, this “split” in Washington is in fact a victory, for Trump and his Republicans. In other words, the Democrats lost the mid-terms.

The fact that the blue-wave never amounted to anything means that Trump can still control the way America is run as is. He has a stronger majority in the Senate, which can enable him to appoint people to special posts, like the Supreme Court, to his own liking. He has circumvented laws and other legal processes in order to shove his agenda down the throats of his opponents, especially including his executive orders, which he has carried out at least 100 times since having taken office in January 2017. He already has the backing of the conservative majority in the Supreme Court, thanks to his nominations of Neil Gorsuch and Brett Kavanaugh, with a third one surely to happen before his term is done, should either Ruth Bader Ginsburg or Clarence Thomas or both be unable to continue. He has the support of Vladimir Putin and Kim Il Jung, two adversaries who would like to see the western democracy annihilated.  Then there is the American people- mostly white Christians coming from rural settings with little educational experience or even a sense of cultural tolerance- the likes of Homer Simpson, whom Trump is still getting a solid backing versus the city-slickers and coastal areas folks who are used to the luxuries of multicultural diversity, public transport and global awareness, which has resulted in a division of the country into two America’s- a division which has never been seen before in our time.

It was hoped that with a majority in both the House and the Senate, Trump would have been declawed and defanged- forced into a role as a lame duck. Better would have been the prospects of impeaching him and removing him from office. But now, the best but also the most dangerous solution is eengaging in bi-partisan politics, which working together with the Democrats would not fit the profile of the narccist the president is. That concept is foreign in his vocabulary because Trump has never appreciated them as much as as he has loathed liberal and mainstream media, such as public radio, CNN and NBC. The cooperation may work temporarily but it will fail before the end of 2019, resulting in the country being at a complete standstill, while breaking apart at the seams.

So the final question is what is there to be done between now and 2020? The Democrats have lost, despite regaining the House. Trump is being Trump, although he has attempted to “clean house,” which includes Attorney General Jeff Sessions leaving. Voters are claiming victory, yet they are still divided. Countries like Germany and France are forging their own alliances with other countries in Europe and elsewhere to serve as a counter-weight to America. And we as expatriates are getting footed the bill for our own contributions for voting for the right cause, which is unity, freedom, cooperation and lastly (but most importantly), democracy. This split is a loss for America for it has become more divided than ever, thus setting the stage for the fall, just like with other empires  that happened before us- the Soviet Union, Great Britain and its empire, Germany under Hitler, but most importantly, the Roman Empire.  With each day passing between now and 2020, we will see America and its influence wane, each American leaving the country or renouncing their citizenship, and everything American that we find here in Europe to disappear, bit by bit.

By the time 2020 rolls around with the presidential elections, we may not see much of America left to celebrate or even support. And a filled-out, mail-in ballot may become worthless in the end.  From my standpoint, it will be that key factor that will force me to turn my back on the country I was born and raised, and had lots of great memories growing up.  We really don’t know what will happen or what we can do at this point. All we can do is watch and pray, hoping for the best but planning for the worse.

 

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