vic asked in Society & CultureLanguages · 2 months ago

Would rhis work as a joke a German is angry with his boss. The boss tells him to do something. Would “Ja, mein geschäftsführer” ?

Or does it make no sense

2 Answers

  • Zac Z
    Lv 7
    2 months ago

    Native German here.

    This phrase would definitely "work" as a word play in that it is recognizably an allusion to "Jawohl, mein Führer!".

    However, it would very much not work as a joke.

    Comparing your boss to Hitler is extremely bad taste and will not be perceived as funny. (And I'm saying this as someone who isn't 'offended' by every tiny thing as some Americans seem to be.)

    So, even said in a jocular sense this won't work.

    If on top of that the situation is a serious one, as in the case where the employee is angry and there's no mistaking this as an ill-attempted joke, saying this might have serious consequences.

    Now, I'm obviously, saying "mein Geschäftsführer" instead of "mein Führer" is a degree removed but since the phrase "mein Geschäftsführer" is not a natural phrasing the allusion to Hitler is apparent.

    There was a case just a few years ago where an employee had responded to an instruction by his boss with the words "Jawohl, mein Führer" and he was fired on the spot.

    Now, this dismissal was overturned by the court when the fired employee sued but what the courts said was that the firing had been disproportionate because they opined that the employee would have to be given a warning first. However, they made it clear that this statement by the employee was unacceptable.

    (I'm linking to an article about this case below but unfortunately it's all in German so you might have to put it through the Google Translator.)

    As you see, this one remark almost got this guy fired and it will certainly sour the relationship between him and his boss.

    To make a long story short, saying this in jest just isn't funny and therefore won't work as a joke, and saying this in serious will be very offensive and make your work relationship go downhill.

    Hope that helps!

  • Dave
    Lv 7
    2 months ago

    I don't know, exactly, not being native G. But I think you have (for better or worse) imitated  'fuehrer' as the last element in a (?typically German?) compound noun, somewhat like a formal 'title',  and so you have an echo there of what we tend to half-understand from viewing too many old 'war movies' -- where we have half a familiarity with such long nouns, and expect that 'big noun' as non-native speakers could sound right there. Because to my English ear, it just sounds that way. But to a native G., it might simply mean essentially 'boss/chief' without any more overtones than that.  So.... hard for me to say, but I think I understand what appealed to your 'ear' in all that...  

    Source(s): native AmE; (and took a lot of German over the years)
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