It's Better to Travel than Arrive?

"To travel hopefully is a better thing than to arrive"

Robert Louis Stevenson, Virginibus Puerisque, 1881.

"Robert Louis Stevenson speaks utter tosh and has

obviously never flown long haul economy class"

Kristy, first ever blog post, 2011.

Wednesday, June 29, 2011

Language Puzzler

On Saturday night we went to see the Sting Symphonicity concert outdoors at Schloss Salem.


Schloss Salem

I don't know how many people were there, but I'm guessing at least 5,000.  It was a clear, warm night and everyone was really enjoying themselves.

Now, here's my puzzler, we've been living in Germany for 2.5 years now and, from experience, I can safely say that if I ask the local German people if they can speak English at least 60% of them will say "nein".  About 20% will say "a little", and 20% will be happy to speak it and speak it much better than I can speak German (which isn't difficult).

As Sting was performing, I looked around the crowd and nearly everyone was either singing the words or mouthing the words along with him (as were we).

So, does this mean that more people can understand English than they're letting on, or do they just mouth along to the words that they have heard, not knowing at all what they mean?

I'm not much help on this one because the only songs I heard in foreign languages when living in Australia were:-

And I really didn't know what any of them meant, though I must thank Nena for teaching me the Deutsch for 99.

I guess my question is, do you think people know what the lyrics to Sting's songs actually mean, or are they just singing along because they've heard the songs so many times that the words are stuck in their heads (and they've got no clue what they mean)?


Sting, just being fabulous

I only found out what "Ca Plane Pour Moi" meant a few years ago (thanks Craig Smith!), so I guess, maybe, just like me, they're singing things they've got no idea about?

What do you think?


  1. Here's what Lasse has to say:
    "it's perfectly possible to learn the lyrics to a song without actually bothering to understand what the song is about. you sing along in a made-up language that sounds a bit like the vowel sounds in English. Kids do that in Norway. The other thing to mention is that most songs have lyrics that are so awful that it's probably better to just learn the words without actually bothering to "read" them."

  2. I know SO MANY Russian songs my grandmother taught me...and have absolutely no clue what they mean. Sad, right? I'd never thought about attending a concert in a foreign-speaking country....very cool!


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