Ich bin zurück gekehrt [OT]

Cidu Bill on Jun 19th 2017

Back from Germany. Actually, back from Germany and England, but they speak something similar to English there.

Our thanks to Kilby (who, it turns out, actually does have a first name, and it’s the same as Columbo’s), for showing us around Berlin and the surrounding area. I have to be honest: since we hadn’t planned on leaving the city, I hadn’t even known Sans Souci was anywhere near Berlin. 

Now to handle some all-important CIDU matters (and do laundry)…

Filed in Bill Bickel, Germany | 48 responses so far

48 Responses to “Ich bin zurück gekehrt [OT]”

  1. DNH Jun 19th 2017 at 08:40 am 1

    Kilby’s first name is “Detective”?

  2. Pete Jun 19th 2017 at 08:56 am 2

    Columbo’s first name was “Lieutenant.”

  3. User McUser Jun 19th 2017 at 09:44 am 3

    Until I saw this post, I would have sworn I knew what Columbo’s first name was. But when pressed to come up with it, I had nothing…

    If you dig around on the Internet you can find out what it is; in an early episode, the Lt. shows his police ID onscreen which revels his first name. I won’t ruin the magic here though by linking to it.

  4. Bob Jun 19th 2017 at 01:47 pm 4

    Mrs. Columbo’s first name is a tough one too.

  5. Cidu Bill Jun 19th 2017 at 01:49 pm 5

    Bob, wasn’t his wife “Kate” in the spinoff? At least before they retroactively decided she wasn’t Columbo’s wife after all? Or it wasn’t a spinoff after all? Or something like that/

  6. Boise Ed Jun 19th 2017 at 02:32 pm 6

    Bill, the polynymic show was Mrs. Columbo, then Kate Columbo, then Kate the Detective, and then Kate Loves a Mystery. The name of the character was changed to Kate Callahan after an off-screen divorce. These days, it probably would have been pulled off the air after about 20 minutes.

  7. Kilby Jun 20th 2017 at 05:09 am 7

    I won’t bother to detail the complete itinerary of everything we saw (an amazing list for just one day), but I would like to mention that both Bill and his wife had amazing stamina for people operating 6 hours outside their own time zone. I kept waiting for one of them to say “uncle”, but neither of them ever did.

    P.S. Strictly speaking (from a nitpicker’s P.O.V.), the participle “gekehrt” (in the title) isn’t really necessary (if you’re ‘back’, then one can automatically assume that you have ‘returned’). However, when one does include the term, then the space before it is dropped: “zurückgekehrt“, all one word.

    P.P.S. I am relieved that Bill’s “Columbo” riddle is much more obscure than I had initially assumed. Wikipedia gives an entirely different name.

  8. Bob Jun 20th 2017 at 07:08 am 8

    Thank you, Boise Ed, for the history of Mrs. Columbo. I knew there was a spin-off show, but hadn’t been aware of its many reincarnations (and I don’t believe I ever saw any of them).

    Bill, my original comment was based on Lt. Columbo always referring to his wife as “Mrs. Columbo,” and I thought I had heard in the original Mrs. Columbo show that they were not going to reveal her first name.

  9. Mitch4 Jun 20th 2017 at 08:07 am 9


  10. Bob Jun 20th 2017 at 08:24 am 10

    Mitch4 - yes, but does NEWMAN! have a first name?

  11. Mitch4 Jun 20th 2017 at 08:44 am 11

    My theory was it might be Jerry. Then neither Jerry S. nor any of the friends would want to use initials (like that) or other disambiguation tricks, so they just utterly ignore his first name.

  12. Cidu Bill Jun 20th 2017 at 08:57 am 12

    Kilby (7), I imagine if I continue trying to learn German, there will come a day when something will click and the whole “verb” thing will suddenly make sense.

    Regarding Columbo: As I understand it, they were never going to revel either his or her first name, but there’s a story going around that somebody isolated a screen shot of his driver’s license or something where you can make out the first name Phil. I think most Columbo scholars consider this to be apocryphal.

    As far as I’m concerned, Kate Columbo is the wife of the Detective Columbo on an alternate Earth, and has no connection to the Peter Falk character.

    And Willy Gilligan agrees with me.

  13. Mitch4 Jun 20th 2017 at 09:24 am 13

    If you’re not in the habit of checking the Recent Comments list, you might like to revisit from there the old thread called Overreactistan.

  14. DemetriosX Jun 20th 2017 at 12:21 pm 14

    @Bill (12): Actually, the screenshot supposedly shows his name is Frank. Phil (Philip really) came from someone who put that tidbit into a book of trivia as a copyright trap and wound up catching the makers of Trivial Pursuit. Frank I can see, Philip not so much. Kate Columbo is obviously one of Captain Janeway’s holodeck games.

  15. ty Jun 20th 2017 at 12:42 pm 15

    There is an episode of Columbo where a CIA agent flashes his ID and you can see that his name is Phil Corrigan, which happens to be the name of the title character in the comic strip Secret Agent X-9. Perhaps that is the origin of the “Phil” story.

  16. Markus Jun 21st 2017 at 04:05 am 16

    Cidu Bill wrote:
    “I imagine if I continue trying to learn German, there will come a day when something will click and the whole “verb” thing will suddenly make sense.”

    As a native speaker I can assure you, it won’t and it doesn’t. The German language has rules, exceptions to those rules, exceptions to the exceptions and I think the rabbit hole might go further down still.
    You have to learn it by heart long enough so it will just become natural which, for everyone not learning it as a toddler, will take the same time as for those who do: About ten years give or take :-)


  17. Kilby Jun 21st 2017 at 06:47 am 17

    @ Bill (12) - I don’t think it’s possible to make sense out of German verbs just by logically studying the rules. I used to own a copy of “501 German Verbs”, with a dense page of every possible conjugation (every possible pronomial form for a long list of tenses). In my first year here, I never found that tome to be of any use at all, and I did not bother to bring it with me when I moved here permanently. The solution that worked better was simple immersion (helped by not living with or anywhere near any native English speakers).

    P.S. The “Columbo” riddle is starting to look more and more like “find a word that rhymes with ’silver’ or ‘orange’.” None of the references I’ve found (or any of the suggestions above) are even close to correct, which is somewhat of a relief. I have friends named “Frank”, but I wouldn’t want to share a name with them.

  18. Mark in Boston Jun 21st 2017 at 08:07 pm 18

    Cidu Bill: Don’t you mean, “I imagine, that if I trying to learn German continue, that a day when something will click will come, and the whole ‘verb’ thing suddenly sense will make.”

  19. Winter Wallaby Jun 22nd 2017 at 12:30 pm 19

    Kilby #17: Why are none of the answers close to correct? The picture from the show here seems pretty convincing to me.

  20. larK Jun 22nd 2017 at 02:09 pm 20

    Winter: I dunno, it looks like “Joseph” to me; but in any event, the last name doesn’t look at all like it could be “Columbo”.

    And anyway, I think Kilby was saying that nobody has guessed his name yet, or even come close. And he dances every night around that day’s comics page singing, “Ach wie gut, dass keiner weiß, dass I Rumpelstizchen heiß!”

  21. Kilby Jun 23rd 2017 at 01:12 am 21

    @ Markus (16) - Germans take a certain amount of pride in the difficulty of their language (”Deutsche Sprache, schwere Sprache“), but despite all of its intricate rules, German is much better at sticking to those rules than English ever was or could be.

    Taking language as a garden, German has a conference of cultural ministers in charge of weed control. Anything that can’t be removed is assigned a number and a title, and is added to the catalog. English has a multitude of combative privateers, each trying to defend their own plot, but nobody ever tries to clean anything up, they are too busy trying to take over some of the surrounding territory.

    P.S. In this metaphor, French can be seen as the Trojan Horse for English, which in turn is the Trojan Horse for German.

  22. Kilby Jun 23rd 2017 at 01:21 am 22

    P.P.S. @ larK (20) - Bingo. I wasn’t dancing before, but I sure did laugh when I read that comment.

    P.P.P.S. Germans tend to be very amused about the English pronunciation (and spelling) of “Rumpelstiltskin”.

  23. Kilby Jun 23rd 2017 at 01:26 am 23

    P^5.S. For what it’s worth, I think that Bill’s riddle was an intentional “red herring”. I guess I should be grateful for the rebooted Star Trek movies, otherwise he might have used Uhura instead of Columbo.

  24. Kilby Jun 23rd 2017 at 01:37 am 24

    P^6.S. @ lark (20) - I think WW’s link @19 is more likely to be the source of Wikipedia’s assertion the the answer is “Frank” (see the end of @17).

  25. James Pollock Jun 23rd 2017 at 01:48 am 25

    “I guess I should be grateful for the rebooted Star Trek movies, otherwise he might have used Uhura instead of Columbo.”

    Except… alternate histories. The fact that she has a specific name in one alternate history doesn’t mean that she has the same name in other histories. If Kirk’s birthdate and place can change…

    (No, I’m not bitter at all that major studios keep letting JJ Abrams ruin things I care(d) about. Not at all.)

  26. Heather Jun 23rd 2017 at 11:09 am 26

    A group of my closest friends are travelling to Berlin next week! I really wish I could go with them. :( Especially since I’m the only one among them that speaks German.

    @Mark in Boston #18 — that me out loud laugh made!!

    My latest linguistic venture is learning Dutch. For years, when I’d see Dutch, it felt like it was close enough to German that I should understand it… but I didn’t. Which was disconcerting. Now I’ve mastered the basics of it — at least for reading. The pronunciation I’m still having trouble with. I mean, I understand what it’s *supposed* to be. But I find that when I’m reading it, the pronunciation in my head tends to default to German rules (ie, the hard G in German instead of the guttural G in Dutch).

    Especially since my theatre group just finished a run of Cabaret, which has lots of German in it. German is stuck in my head, displacing the attempts at Dutch.

    And one of our leads, playing the German (Nazi) character Ernst Ludwig, is a Dutch man.

    But also, now when I read German, I often find myself over-compensating by hearing it in my head with the Dutch guttural G.


  27. larK Jun 23rd 2017 at 02:28 pm 27

    Was that a hard or guttural G in the sigh?

  28. DemetriosX Jun 23rd 2017 at 06:25 pm 28

    @Heather: Since I speak both German and English, hearing Dutch is very frustrating for me. I’ve compared it to hearing a conversation in the next room, where you can’t quite make out what people are saying, but hear the rhythms very clearly. It’s even more frustrating, because my wife’s first husband was Dutch, so she and our two oldest daughters speak it. It was their go-to language for “things Demetrios isn’t supposed to know about.”

    Spoken Dutch is also really difficult. That guttural G is one of the harshest sounds the human throat can produce, like 80-year-old smoker with a lifelong 3-pack-a-day habit harsh (if you’re in the norther 2/3 of the country; for the rest and the Flemish it’s a really hissy German “ch”). The vowels are really tough, too. There’s a set of 3 different diphthongs (one is “ui”, I’m not sure how the others are written) that are nearly impossible for a non-native to distinguish.

  29. Kilby Jun 24th 2017 at 01:29 am 29

    Berlin is so far away from the Netherlands that the only time I hear Dutch is when I have to switch planes in Amsterdam (but not always even then: people there are astonishingly good with English).

    Many years ago, on a visit to the Pacific Northwest, I picked up a “foreign” book in a bookstore, and was very surprised that I could sort of understand about 2/3rds of it by sounding the words out in my mind and juggling them between English and German. At first I thought it might be a strange language parody, but it turned out that the bookstore specialized in Dutch literature. That explained why part of the building was designed to look like a windmill.

  30. Cidu Bill Jun 24th 2017 at 03:20 am 30

    Uhura had a first name in the final TOS films.

    Spock probably never used it, though.

  31. DemetriosX Jun 24th 2017 at 04:09 am 31

    The Dutch are really good at English, because a huge chunk of their TV is in English. The language market is so small that it isn’t worth the cost of dubbing foreign shows. Everything is just subtitled (they also subtitle Flemish shows, though I think that’s as much snark as it is necessity). That was handy, because it allowed me and the kids to see the last season of Voyager after we moved to Germany. From that I learned that the Dutch for “Captain, I have acquired a lock on the target,” is “Hebbes!“. (OK, not really. That means “Got it!”, but TV subtitle have length restrictions, so Tuvok used a lot of slang.)

  32. Kilby Jun 24th 2017 at 07:46 am 32

    @ Bill (30) - According to Wikipedia, Uhura’s first name was added to the “canon” (and approved by Roddenberry) well after the original series had stopped production. It appeared in several books, but did not make it to the screen until the rebooted film in 2009 (where it is revealed by Spock using it).

  33. James Pollock Jun 24th 2017 at 11:35 am 33

    I would have sworn that Uhura got a full name in “The Lorelei Signal”, the animated series episode where Uhura has to take over command of the Enterprise because Kirk, and the other menfolk, are unable to resist the siren-song of the aliens who call them to their planet to make snoo-snoo.

    However, Wikipedia says no, and I didn’t go watch to double-check. Uhura was given several different names in various Trek literature… Trek literature is riddled with inconsistencies on many matters, large and smal, even before JJ Abrams got involved. Star Wars, on the other hand, was largely free of such, before Disney jettisoned it into space at the first sign of an Imperial frigate (so Mr. Abrams wouldn’t have to learn any of it.)

  34. Cidu Bill Jun 24th 2017 at 12:12 pm 34

    Kilby. that was my recollection as well: book to film.

    Which brings up the question of why her name was never used on the television show: were they doing a “Columbo,” or was she just too unimportant a character to have a first name?

    And while we’re on the subject: was “Paladin” the first lead character in a television show to be deliberately never given a name?

    (and no, it wasn’t “Wire Paladin,” so let’s get that out of the way)

  35. Kilby Jun 24th 2017 at 12:48 pm 35

    @ Bill (34) - Uhura had her moments, but she just wasn’t part of the front row (like Kirk, Spock, & Bones were). It’s entirely possible that none of the scriptwriters ever felt the need to take the initiative needed to invent a first name for her, as it would appear that the series “rubrick” did not offer one for her (at least not back then).

    Roddenberry had nothing against retroactive justifications. In response to a viewer’s inquiry on why Spock did not have a first name, it was decided that this was a Vulcan “tradition”, and somebody went so far as to draft up a list of names, all beginning with “S” and ending with “K”.

    There was also the issue of random star dates, simply because episodes were not always broadcast in the order they were filmed. When confused viewers asked, they were fended off with a pseudo-scientific explanation that attempted to make star dates dependent on location and/or relativistic effects.

  36. Cidu Bill Jun 24th 2017 at 01:18 pm 36

    Did Uhura ever go down to a planet? She probably did any number of times, but I can’t remember a single one because she wad always just a glorified communicator.

    She probably didn’t have a first name until the novels because until the novels she didn’t warrant one

    Speaking of Spock’s name, didn’t they say at one point early on that his full name was unpronounsable to humans? That seemed to fall by the wayside.

  37. James Pollock Jun 24th 2017 at 01:35 pm 37

    Star Trek always suffered from what I call “Gilligan’s Island disease”, wherein the events of one episode are completely forgotten by the next episode, and never referred to again. This is frustrating to people who can actually remember things.

    Oh, dear. The Borg are an existential threat to the Federation? Let’s throw all our starships at them, but never ever try to enlist the support of any of the far-more-powerful allies we’ve encountered. The First Federation has far larger and more powerful starships than does the UFP, and the Organians seemed like they’d put up a pretty good resistance to assimilation. We’ll also decline to use our superweapon, the Genesis wave, because apparently we forgot we had it. And Kirk & co. discovered two separate ways to give human beings godlike telekinetic abilities, and speaking of gods, what’s Apollo up to these days? Or Charlie X? Or the Squire of Gothos (and his parents)?
    And those are just TOS events, from eight decades before the arrival of the Borg. The modern Enterprise had encountered an alien who lost his temper and completely destroyed an entire species throughout the universe not long before the arrival of the Borg. OK, maybe knocking on HIS door was a bit of a risk, but again, the Borg are an existential threat… is it better to be obliterated throughout the universe for disturbing a nap (maybe), or to live on in Borgified form?

  38. James Pollock Jun 24th 2017 at 01:42 pm 38

    “Did Uhura ever go down to a planet?”
    Yes, everyone went to the planet with the flower spores that made Spock smile.

    Also, the animated episode I referred to earlier.

  39. Cidu Bill Jun 24th 2017 at 02:33 pm 39

    Going down because everybody went down is, as they say, the exception that proves the rule.

    Maybe they just didn’t want her walking around too much in that ridiculously short dress.

  40. James Pollock Jun 24th 2017 at 03:52 pm 40

    “Maybe they just didn’t want her walking around too much in that ridiculously short dress.”

    Yeoman Rand went down to the planet in “Miri”.
    (Note: Yeoman Rand was only on for about a dozen episodes, and she had a first name (Janice).)

    I think that Uhura didn’t get a first name NOT because she was “just the switchboard operator”, but because her character was African and the creators of the show didn’t know enough about Africans to pick a common African name for her.

  41. Bob Jun 24th 2017 at 04:27 pm 41

    Were Uhura and Kirk on a planet when they kissed or was that on the ship?

  42. Winter Wallaby Jun 24th 2017 at 04:54 pm 42

    Bob #41: They were on a planet. (Although Uhura wasn’t sent down, she was forced down.)

  43. B.A. Jun 24th 2017 at 04:59 pm 43

    James, even pre-Internet, it wouldn’t have been rocket science to find a single African name.

    But was she even on a first-name basis with anybody on the ship before the movies?

  44. B.A. Jun 24th 2017 at 05:03 pm 44

    Janes (37), didn’t just about every show at that time (and earlier) hit the reset button between episodes?

  45. Cidu Bill Jun 24th 2017 at 05:21 pm 45

    My recollection is that the term “reset button” didn’t even exit in this context until the 1990s, because that was just the default.

    Made sense, though: before VCRs, it was difficult to follow many shows on a religious basis, and there’s no benefit in your audience not knowing what’s going on.

  46. James Pollock Jun 24th 2017 at 06:09 pm 46

    “James, even pre-Internet, it wouldn’t have been rocket science to find a single African name.”

    Finding A name is trivial. Finding the RIGHT name is tougher. On the one hand, you need a name that fits the gender and nationality of the character. Quick, name an Irishman. “Hildegarde” is wrong. Mary is Irish, but still not right, Ivan is masculine, but still not right. Oh, and you want to avoid the appearance that you just picked the most obvious name, so Sean is out, too.
    OK so far? Here’s the thing. I’m not Irish, but I know enough about Irish names to talk about them. As an American, I come in contact with enough persons of Irish descent to have a feel for Irish names. The same can not be said for, say, Yakama people, even though they’re less than a hundred miles away, for the most part, or Inuit people, or Africans who came here of their own accord, or SouthEast Asians, or any of a fairly significant number of other peoples.
    Now, here’s the closer. When I create the character, I want to avoid, to whatever degree possible, closing off future storylines. If I’ve made the helmsman a Japanese man, it prevents a later writer from using a great storyline in which the helmsman draws on his Chinese background to solve a problem. Yes, you can get around this by bringing in a guest star who plays Chinese, but that’s an expense that could have been avoided if you could have used one of the actors already in the cast. (This budget logic is why Mr. Scott was so often called upon to man the transporters).
    So… Roddenberry wanted a diverse cast because his vision of the future included a united human race, working together to explore space. So you got a midwestern captain, an asian helmsman, a Scots engineer, an alien science officer, an Irish navigator, and an African comms officer. The second season, we added a Russian navigator. The animated series punched things up a notch by adding some more alien supporting characters: Lt. M’ress and Lt. Arex both got significant screen time.
    But to avoid limiting the creativity of the writers, only the bare bones of the characters was provided to the writers… they filled in the rest, as needed, as their stories developed. (And, in some cases, the stories came first and were then adapted to fit into Star Trek… “Arena” was an award-winning story before it was made into a Star Trek story, and “The Soft Weapon” was part of a fairly extensive set of stories before it was adapted into Treklore.

    “didn’t just about every show at that time (and earlier) hit the reset button between episodes?”
    No. Some did, of course, with good reason… Gilligan’s Island stops if they get off the island, so you know whatever plan they have to get off the island this week is going to fail, and they’re going to be still stuck on the island next week. But other shows incorporated changes… Chuck Cunningham famously went upstairs, never to return, and eventually the Cunninghams had only two children. (Yes, I know, that was a decade later). The Flintstones were childless, then they had a baby, then the Rubbles got one, too, and eventually (ugh) the green guy showed up. Darren and Samantha had a child. Desi and Lucy had one, too.
    But, in Star Trek, they invented a cure for aging. Then forgot it by the next episode. They found a way to give humans tremendous telekinietic abilities… then forgot it by the next episode. In the Next Generation, they learned that there was a whole dimension of space occupied by intelligent beings, and that travelling at high warp speeds injured and killed them. Guess what they’re doing again just a couple of episodes later? To put this in a Gilligan context, suppose that one week’s episode involved the professor building a powerful radio out of coconut shells and palm fronds, but, darn it, all the batteries left from the Minnow are drained, so there’s no electricity to power it. Then, three episodes later, the professor builds a 60 gigawatt nuclear reactor out of palm fronts and coconut shells, because the castaways need to electrify the lagoon to keep some horrible sea monster from coming ashore. But, for some reason, none of the seven (or even the Japanese soldier hiding in the background because he doesn’t know the war is over) thinks “hey, this electricity source would work really well with this two-way radio to get a signal to Honolulu…(or Tokyo…)
    Playing “spot the inconsistency” in Star Trek is not even a challenging game.
    Start with… what do Klingons look like? Do they look like humans, only with greenish skin and odd facial hair? Or do they have the head bumps? (Late night ad on Klingon TV: “I’m not just a member of the Head Bumps Club for Klingons… I’m also the President!”)

  47. Cidu Bill Jun 24th 2017 at 06:26 pm 47

    James, there are degrees of “right”: finding an African name for a woman would have been easy. If they wanted to make sure Uhura’s name was correct for a specific region of a specific African nation, and for the social class she likely would have been born into, that would have been far more difficult. But in 1966, I doubt they cared.

  48. James Pollock Jun 24th 2017 at 07:44 pm 48

    “Made sense, though: before VCRs, it was difficult to follow many shows on a religious basis, and there’s no benefit in your audience not knowing what’s going on.”

    Just the opposite… the networks want to instill the habit of watching every episode. One of the ways to do that is to have a story that progresses. This idea predates television; it was used in movie serials. The challenge is finding the balance, so that audience members who’ve missed something can catch up, but so they don’t feel that missing episodes is the approach they want.
    This is why TV shows have “previously, on (show)…” leaders.
    In the modern era, Law & Order was intentionally designed to be self-contained episodes (which paid off for them rather nicely when it came time to syndicate the show). But they have ongoing character arcs, too.

    “But in 1966, I doubt they cared.”
    I think Roddenberry cared. Not enough to put in any effort, because he knew that the network might overrule his creative choices (again) and he didn’t want to spend a lot of time creating, and getting invested in, a character the network might well order him to cut. (see, e.g., “Number One” from the original pilot.) Until Lt. Uhura needed a full name, she didn’t need a full name. So they didn’t give her one. It turned out, they went 79 episodes and never needed to fill in that detail. They only gave Shatner 70% of HIS character’s name, and he was the star of the show. (That the T stood for “Tiberius” was not revealed in the the original series. Kirk’s middle name was revealed for the first time in the animated series, and, in fact, in the second pilot, Gary Mitchell makes Kirk a gravestone that reads “James R. Kirk” ( http://memory-alpha.wikia.com/wiki/File:James_R_Kirk_tombstone.jpg ) Oops. )

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