Values & Proverbs

World View
Nonverbal Issues
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Project Team






The German culture stems from the beliefs and values of its people.  The role that these principles play are evident in a German's everyday life.  Here are a few of the key values that the Germans possess.


Getting a good education is very important to German societies.  Not only do they have a deep respect for education, but credibility, social status, and the level of employment a person may reach depends on his educational achievement.  The Germans take great pride in their educational system, especially in the fields of craftsmanship and technology. Visit our Education page to learn more about the German education system.


Good manners are a must in the German culture.  Displaying politeness and courtesy are ways of showing respect.  Boundaries are drawn through social distance, eye contact, touch, and facial expressions.  Different types of relationships require different codes of behavior.  Failing to follow these protocols is considered rude and may alienate those who are unaware of them.


Especially in a business setting, Germans pride themselves on their punctuality.  To many of them, being on time is not just a simple concern, it is an obsession.  Being late to an appointment disturbs their sense of order and is seen as rude; if you are expecting to be late, call and explain your situation.  The German sense of "keeping to the schedule" can be seen in and out of the business world.  For those who are virtually always on time, there are rarely acceptable excuses for tardiness or delays that may disturb the "schedule."


German religion has gone through many changes throughout history.  Yet, it continues to be a major pare of German's lives.  The two most practiced religions are Lutheran Protestant (45%) and Roman Catholic (37%).  Click here for more on religion.


Germany lacked any clearly defined geographical boundaries until modern times.  From ancient times, several ethnic groups have mixed to shape the history of Germany, resulting in a stunning diversity of cultures and dialects.  Modern Germany is the product of centuries of social, political, and cultural evolution.  Click here for more on Germany's history.



Proverbs can tell a lot about a people's culture; the proper or expected ways of doing things, certain values they hold dear, and insights the elders wish to impress into the minds of the young.  German proverbs are no different.  Many of their proverbs are known worldwide, but their true originator may not be known.  Whether they were created by a German mind or have simply been adopted from other cultures is irrelevant, but what is relevant however is that the ideas behind them hold true in their German culture.  Here are a few examples; for a more extensive list go to:


In German

English Translation

Aller guter Dinge sind drei. All good things come in threes.
Alte Besen kehren gut. An old broom knows the corners of the house.
Alte Liebe rostet nicht. True love never dies.
Alter schützt vor Torheit nicht. No fool like an old fool.
Arbeit macht das Leben süss. Honest work never hurt.
Aus den Augen, aus dem Sinn. Out of sight, out of mind.
Blut ist dicker als Wasser. Blood is thicker than water.
Den Nagel auf den Kopf treffen. To hit the nail on the head.
Der Apfel fällt nicht weit vom Stamm. The apple doesn't fall far from the tree. / Like father like son.
Die Glücklichen sind reich, die Reichen nicht immer glücklich. Money doesn't buy happiness.
Die Liebe geht durch den Magen. Kissin don't last but cookin do. / The way to a man's heart is through his stomach.
Eile macht (mit) Weile. Haste makes waste.
Es ist nicht alles Gold, was glänzt. Not all that glitters is gold.
Freunde erkennt man in der Not. A friend in need is a friend indeed.
Glück im Spiel, Unglück in der Liebe. Lucky in cards, unlucky in love.
Geteiltes Leid ist halbes Leid. Trouble shared is trouble halved--joy shared is joy doubled.
Glück und Glas, wie leicht bricht das. Luck and glass break easily.
Hunger ist der beste Koch. Anything tastes good when you are hungry. /Hunger is the best cook.
Kleider machen Leute. Clothes make the man.
Not bricht Eisen. Necessity is the mother of invention.
Wer zuletzt lacht, lacht am besten. He who laughs last, laughs best.


World View & Cultural Classification   Traditions, Holidays, Folklore, Myths
Values, Proverbs & Language Nonverbal Issues
Communication within Business Contexts Communication within Family Contexts
Improving Intercultural Competence Bibliography Project Team

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  May 6, 2003