What’s the German past tense of “twitter”?

Tuesday, 5 April 2011 § 2 Comments

If you’re not the type who trolls German news sites as a blessed form of procrastination (you mean you aren’t?!), this might have slipped your attention: On 25 March, Chancellor Angela Merkel’s upcoming trip to the USA was announced via Twitter, and the German press corps pitched a hissy fit.  I wish I could find a recording of this press conference, because the transcripts are hilarious.  Here are some of my favorite excerpts:

Question: “Mr. Dr. Steegmans [Representative of government spokesperson Steffen Seibert, twitterer extraordinare], will I have to set up a twitter account in the future in order to be informed of the Chancellor’s relevant appointments?”

Question: “Is the disclosure duty of the Federal Press Office met by [Twitter posts]?”

Question: “Mr. Dr. Steegmans, as an older person who isn’t so familiar with these newfangled modes of communication, a fundamental question:Was there ever an instruction from the Federal Press Office that now important information is also going to be disseminated over Twitter and that one should perhaps also sign up as — I don’t know what they call it– a customer or follower?”

Question: “Mr. Dr. Steegmans, this week Mr. Seibert came to blows — so to speak — with Volker Beck on Twitter.  Is it planned that the government speaker is now always going react [to Twitter comments]?  Everyone can twitter.  Is this really going to be a regular communication medium for the government spokesman to communicate governmental policy to the public?”

As an historian of Germany, I am so glad that this is now part of the public record (though god help me if some day I can’t get travel grants because the only “archives” I need are available online in the Twitter caches.  [I say as though I’m actually getting these grants now]).

Too bad there wasn’t Twitter during the revolution of 1848/49.  It might have turned out a lot better.  Or, better still: If there had been Twitter during the reign of Kaiser Wilhelm II.  That way, it could have been reported immediately that during an official state visit, Kaiser Wilhelm II “slapped King Ferdinand of Bulgaria vigorously on the behind in public.”  (Blackbourn, The Long Nineteenth Century, 402)  Heh.

I'd probably smack someone wearing that hat, too.


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