I had a discussion with a friend about the question “How are you?”. In most cases you get the response: “fine”. But are there alternative answers where the questioner has to laugh or gets baffled? We haven’t found good answers during our discussion. Oh, and the premise is that everything is fine (so no one is ill or something like that …).
I have an answer that’s not that amusing, but might sound strange to a non-native speaker of English.
“How are you?”
I’ve heard it being used by quite a few people at work - one person comes to mind in particular, so maybe the others have picked it up from them. It means something like “things aren’t that good, but I’ll manage”, or “things have been a mess but I’m getting them under control”.
If you ask that from a Finn, you will be baffled. You’ll get an honest answer, and it can be long, and most often a sad one.
In italian: "Come stai?
“stavo meglio in vacanza” -> I was better during vacation
“sempre di corsa” -> always rushing around
“sopravvivo” -> I survive
“si tira avanti” -> getting there
“tiro la carretta” -> pulling the cart
These aren’t very funny, but they are quite common here, especially in my region.
You can see many of them have a meaning similar to the one described by @tasse-tee.
Sometimes, you can hear the full monty: “How are you?” “Getting there, I survive. Always rushing around, you know, pulling the cart. I was better in vacation…”
“Super, thanks for asking!”
(from the South Park movie)
That response still makes me laugh.
“How are you?”
Hm … Sounds familiar, but I’m not sure at the moment, if we have a similar answer in German … (any other Germans here that can help? )
So you don’t ask that question (and/or only in rare cases)?
I knew a guy who mimicked shooting himself in the head with his fingers when asked how are you.
He had good comic timing, so it worked.
May I be honest, too?
I hate when it happens. I mean, why do we have really to ask anybody “how are you” just to be kind, when nobody cares about it? And, especially, when the other person doesn’t care to let you know how he/she really feels.
Come on, how many times per day some people you are totally indifferent to (in the best case) ask “how are you” and you must mutter “fine” just to cut it short, simply because you don’t want to tell a stranger you got a parking fine, your cat’s dead, your father discovered to have a disease and you just quarreled with your partner?
So, when I briefly ask to a semi-stranger I ran into “how are you”, just to avoid being unpolite, hardly slowing my pace, I expect the other one respects me and my kindness and doesn’t annoy me with the useless story of his/her life.
Ok, I’m a grumpy evil person.
“How are you?” “buzz off” “what kind of talk is that?” “Aw, come on, I’m doing you a favor”
How are things?
Standard answer in vienna:
Gschissn! (fucking awful).
That is the standard answer no matter if things are in fact bad or not.
Um… we do, often… But it’s a bit different in Finnish. It’s basically the same if you ask in Finnish “Mites menee?” or in English “How are you doing?”. For the Finnish question one usually answers “Siinähän se” (“It goes” or “In the sidelines” or something similar), but when one asks that in English, a Finn is compelled to tell their life’s story. It may have something to do with the fact, that “How are you doing” is translated to “Kuinka voit”, which has a connotation of deep concern for ones being.
And again I was fast enough to see you mixing up bavarian and austrian accents.
I knew a guy who always replied that, but with a lovely smile on his face.
Yeah from an austrian perspective that makes sense.
For people from the northern of Germany they are the same.
You´re a piefke. Bavarians aren´t.
For you I am “a Saupreis” - even if we here aren’t prussians.
(But in a lot of cases it’s difficult for us to distinguish between the dialects spoken in Bavarian and Austria.)
Depends on the region. In the north like upper austria it is definitly true that you don´t hear much of a difference. The classic vienna dialect is of course very distinct, Arnold speaks like someone from styria and in tirol they can make sounds that may you remind you more of the swiss dialect.
And even within bavaria there are tons of differences, too. Our current minister president speaks a dialect that probably doesn´t sound much bavarian to you at all.
Arnold is a good example: For a lot of us he sounds like a Bavarian.
Oh, yes! It took me several years to be able to distinguish the “Franken” from the rest of the Bavarians.
I have problems distincting some of the border region dialects myself. I have some issues telling differences between Swabian and Hessian and that may as well include some Franconian parts too. They are all much more alike than upper bavaria or upper palantinate. In the bavarian forest they speak in a way that most of the rest of us don´t understand though.