‘I wish you understood my German’

The tragedy of Flight 4U 9525 is truly horrific. The fact that is was a German airline that was involved should be neither here nor there. And of course this could have happened anywhere. Suicidal maniacs can be found across the globe. But because it was a German plane, we were all - thanks to the comments of Carsten Spohr, the Chairman of Germanwings’ parent airline – reminded of ‘the arrogant German’ again.

I thought Mr Spohr started off fairly well when he dealt with the German media, in German. But for some reason, when it was the English media’s turn, things did not go too well. One answer which stood out was when NBC asked Mr Spohr whether he was confident in his pilots. This was his answer (transcript can be seen here):

“I wish you understood my German because I’ve said twice and I repeated in English, without any doubt, my firm confidence in the selection of our pilots, in the training of our pilots, in the qualification of our pilots, in the work of our pilots, has not been touched by this single tragedy.”

I wish I could say that something was lost in translation but it wasn’t. Mr Spohr’s English is not the problem. He had two choices. Answer the question. Or show his disdain at a non-German speaker and answer the question. Unfortunately, it was the latter. Matters were not helped by the tone of his response, as you can see here.

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