An obviously ill-informed man walked into a Luxembourg City bakery on Tuesday, looked the cashier straight in the eye, and, according to several witnesses, said, “Sprechen Sie Deutsch?”
Obviously, the cashier responded with “non, désolée monsieur” while still making valiant efforts to understand the customer’s incoherent utterances.
Before long, both parties agreed to communicate with hand gestures and elementary-level English that would be nonsensical to any native English speaker.
“I thought German was one of the official languages of Luxembourg, at least according to my Luxembourg travel guide,” said Thomas Sauer, a 72-year-old retired schoolteacher from central Germany, with the help of an interpreter. “Upon my return to my beloved Magdeburg, I shall immediately write a letter of complaint to the publisher.”
Officials say that although rare, instances of visitors believing they can just go around speaking German do occur. If you ever find yourself confronted by someone speaking German, you are advised to remain calm but act resolutely.
“The best thing is to say ‘whoa, mate, I don’t speak German’ and walk away,” said Michael Kemper of the Luxembourg Expats Alliance. “That way, German speakers and others will begin to understand that English is the one and true unofficial language of this country.”