Why Do The Idiots on “Grimm” Keep Asking “Whose”?!?

Today is one of those days where I pinch myself, because my life is a goddamned dream, and not just because I only got 2.5 hours’ sleep last night and thus my waking/sleeping distinction is a little fuzzy (mystery solved, by the way–I’m anemic, and it’s going to take a little while of me pounding iron supplements to get all this shit back to semi-normal, or whatever the mammoth-pregnant-lady-who-is-always-uncomfortable version of normal is). I have been wanting to write about the terrible German on the NBC show “Grimm” for years, literal years, since the first time I heard the word Wesen pronounced like wessen and I was like, “Why does Det. Nick Burkhardt keep asking ‘whose,’ ‘whose,’ ‘whose'”? And NOW I GET TO. Complete with a digression about the idiocy of American monolingualism, sure to make me a big hit with the YOUR IN AMERICA NOW SPEAK ENGLISH crowd. Ein Zitat für euch:

You might counter that since Grimm is a fantasy show, it shouldn’t have to have any “real” German on it whatsoever, that, indeed, as someone else has put it, “never once … has NBC claimed that watching Grimm would help you learn proper or conversational German.” That writer then compares the errors made by Grimm—errors pertaining to one of the world’s major languages, a language that actually exists—to nerds complaining about Yoda’s verb conjugations or the proper plural of “Muggle.” Here’s a new German word for you: Faustschlag, which means fist punch, as in what I am doing to my own face right now so as to cope with reading that.

My only regret with this piece is that it was already running a tad long for a BrowBeat post, so I had to cut out a paragraph about Dominic West and Idris Elba doing American accents (it was a tad digressive), and what should have been my second Ali G reference in as many days, something to the tune of: “Funkyzeit mit Brüno is the least-realistic entity ever to grace my television, and yet Sascha Baron Cohen still managed to start each sketch with a very convincing Also jetzt bin ich hier...” (complete with link to what might arguably be called the best Brüno sketch of all time).

Anyway, for some reason I have been really nostalgic for Ali G, so I’ll end today’s semi-coherent self-promotion rambling with: Booyakasha!

11 thoughts on “Why Do The Idiots on “Grimm” Keep Asking “Whose”?!?

  1. Your shit will not be normal if you’re pounding iron supplements. You’ll be grateful for any shit at all, normal or not.


  2. As I recall, even the guys from “South Park” in their “Passion of the Jew” episode, actually managed to get the German right. So we’re allowed to have some standards here.


  3. The creators of Grimm never intended to reproduce actual German. If the talkbacks on YouTube are correct and my memory serves, they have a German linguist who helped them create “Grimmisch.”


    • In the stupid creature names, sure. But why in the everloving fuck would they mispronounce Wesen intentionally? What purpose does that serve? If they did it on purpose that’s even dumber than doing it accidentally.


      • Even though I feel baited by your comment, I find the mispronounciation applicable. My family is mostly diasporic Germans who emigrated in or after 1910. They exchange recipes for “kooka” (Kuchen) and call all of their German shepherds “shoawtsie” (Schatzi). This is common diasporic/heritage language use!


      • I wasn’t trying to bait! I just literally see no reason whatsoever to create a dialect just for television that mispronounces Wesen on purpose, not due to any historical vowel shifts or dialect changes (which you are talking about, and which are legit), but just for the fuck of it, when it would be far easier just to say Wesen. I think the Grimmlisch applies to the creatures, but I believe they really do think they are speaking German when they say ‘wessen’ instead of Wesen and don’t know what Hochdeutsch is.


  4. so, I’ve been thinking about this a LOT, cause I love this show, and I have a feeling the conversation went like this:
    -“What’s the German word for creature?”
    — *flips through dictionary* “vayzen.”
    -“Wtf is it? let me see! oh. vayzen is ugly. can we say vessen?”
    –“Sure, nobody speaks fucking German.”

    cause Vayzen really is ugly to American ears, and hard to wrap your mouth around. It sounds like, I don’t know, some kind of sour fruit? a particularly nasty pimple? something unpleasant, in any case. I have a feeling, had they been saying Vayzen instead of Vessen, the show would not have taken off.

    As for Hochdeutsch, I have German-American friends here (St. Louis) who use Hochdeutsch to mean exactly what Monroe uses it to mean: good German like their grandfathers spoke, as opposed to the bad German they speak.


    • I admire how much you’ve been thinking about this, for real. I think your narrative works–but that didn’t stop me from, for the entire first season, alternately being like “WHY DO THEY KEEP ASKING WHOSE?” and “WHAT DO THEY HAVE AGAINST WEST GERMANS and WHY ARE THEY USING A PLURAL FOR WEST GERMANS THEY MADE UP?”


      • Yeah, I get that. It’s the same pain I get watching Orlando Bloom teach Arabs to find water in the desert. All cultural scholars have our Hollywood crosses to bear.


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