By Jan - 27/02/2013 04:50 - United States - Ann Arbor

Today, a German guy came into the place where I work. Eager to use the German that I'd learned from my immigrant mother and her family, I started a conversation. Things were going well until the term I grew up thinking meant "Africa" turned out to be racist, translating as "Ape Land." FML
I agree, your life sucks 33 276
You deserved it 4 319

Same thing different taste

Top comments


Affenland was not used for Africa as a whole but for the colony Germany held in West Africa (now Namibia) from 1884 to 1915. It's quite an old word actually. The only reason why it survived in OP's family is because of emigration, for sure. People back then, especially the colons themselves, called the place Affenland instead of the long official name "Südwestafrika" (just like there is Alpenland, Frankenland etc.). Nobody uses that word in Germany anymore, not even the racists.

I grew up in Germany. I've never even heard the word until today.

You can find it a few times if you search: "affenland" & "südwestafrika" (don't forget the quotation marks) in Google Books.

It might not actually be racist, it could just be because that is where people believe the monkeys/apes to come from?

TheDrifter 23

Since OP is learning new vocabulary to replace what his white supremacist parents taught, just as it's Afrika, not Affenland, the people are Afrikaans, and calling them Affen will get your ass whooped if they understand you.

The use of the word Affenland is outside Mein Kampford zone. Ann Frankly its very racist.

untouchable763 10

Well it could of been worse if you know what I mean.

Not sure I know what you mean, please explain ^_^

They mean that it could have been the holocaust, cuze, was bad...

mega20913 8

no I think this is bad enough already

He could've been black. That would've been an awkward conversation from thereon out.

JJ_Rokk 10

This is why we have Google Translate buddy.

Google Translate just makes it more confusing.

Geometric 18

Google Translate is horrible. A better online translator is Free Translation.

Google Translate is not yet supposed to correctly translate sentences. It also generally does not work well with single words, mainly because most of them have various meanings depending on context and yet Google only offers a single translation. What you should use Google Translate for is to get a rough grasp of what it is that you're reading if you don't know the language. For everything else you should use dictionaries, so that you can find the translation you are looking for.

Even if google translate worked, why would OP use it if he thought he knew how to say Africa?

lishajoy777 14

Why you gotta be racist!? Da hell!

Mistakes happen. Be glad you caught it early in your German studies.

Unless you are a WWII historian, you probably haven't.

bimbim_fml 6

In Europe knowledge that such troops existed is considered general knowledge. Probably same as some civil war facts in USA.

TheDrifter 23

That fact is even stuck in my Canadian brain from some long ago mandatory world history class. I thought it was common knowledge most everywhere.

Common knowledge for the world and common knowledge for the USA are two very different things. Where some importent history facts are not that importent for the USA as it happend so far away from them. Most europeans could not tell more about the american civil war other then it was north against the south and that it had to do with slaves amongst other things.

VasilisaUzhasnaj 29

Honestly, most Americans could tell you just about as much.

Ugh. Hate these America generalizations coming from people outside the US.

I live in the US and sadly they're mostly true...

I had a whole class on European history we learned a lot in that class even saw a video with footage from Auschwitz. I'm Canadian though and a lot of people from where I live (including me) have German parents or grandparents or are a different European background they still embrace. We also fought in WW1 and WW2. It's sad that the US doesn't teach it's people more about other countries (from what I've heard) maybe if they did when they travel they'd be treated better.

Yes, I was trying to say that such information is not common knowledge in the US. I happen to know because I love studying WWII, but if I asked anyone else, they wouldn't know what it is. I didn't realize it was such common knowledge in Europe.

So is that the term your mother's side of the family uses for Africa...?

bach2121 13

Now you know your family is racist!

ViviMage 38

As long as you don't start with "der mist blahblah" insults. Ya didn't know. Ignorance is no excuse, though... Afrika is something I knew and I speak very little German.