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Michael Schumacher's English language


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#1 bonneville

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Posted 26 January 2010 - 15:03

Don't know where to post this. I'm not a native speaker, yet I'd love to improve my English. Michael Schumacher seems to have a very obscure way of forming phrases in English. I find quite strange the way he speaks. As in this video:

"It's something important for me to see the combination that I'm now joining into."

"To return to Mercedes it's a great happening to me"

"In two ten naturaly with this great combination of Ross Brawn, of Mercedes GP and the experience that I got, we can only aim for one target, that is winning the championship".

Is that correct at all? How does it sound to native English speakers' ears? Foreign? Incorrect? Elaborate? Up his arse?

Two ten? Honestly, I'd never heard "2010" spelled that way before. I'd heard "Two Thousand and Ten" and "Twenty Ten". But never "Two Ten".

Feedback from native speakers much appreciated.

Edited by bonneville, 26 January 2010 - 15:05.


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#2 lustigson

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Posted 26 January 2010 - 15:06

Two ten? Honestly, I'd never heard "2010" spelled that way before. I'd heard "Two Thousand and Ten" and "Twenty Ten". But never "Two Ten".

Perhaps it's... a mistake?

#3 Group B

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Posted 26 January 2010 - 15:08

Seems to me like a pretty open and shut case of a non-native speaker who hasn't totally mastered the finer points of a language. Nothing much to see, frankly.

Edited by Group B, 26 January 2010 - 15:09.


#4 UPRC

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Posted 26 January 2010 - 15:08

Schumacher's English certainly is peculiar. Some of the words he chooses to use may sound odd at first, but there's nothing inherently wrong with the way he speaks. If he can be understood just fine, then I think he's doing alright.

#5 senna da silva

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Posted 26 January 2010 - 15:11

Michael's English was better years ago when he was with Benetton. I suspect it's lack of use being in Italy and at home that causes his english to be a little broken. However, he speaks well enough to be easily understood, but Nico's English is much more natural.

#6 RoutariEnjinu

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Posted 26 January 2010 - 15:13

I vote 'up his arse'

It could be German grammar but with the individual words swapped for English ones?

It does seem a bit... stroke victim.

But it's understandable :)

#7 pingu666

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Posted 26 January 2010 - 15:14

schumi's english is pretty darn good really

#8 F1 Tor.

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Posted 26 January 2010 - 15:18

Using gerunds/ infinitives/ prepositions, idiomatic expressions etc. for non-native speakers takes a very long time to grasp and can only improve with years of practice. I think Michael is taking more chances with the language to express himself. For the most part he is easy to understand, but the minor grammatical mistakes will always be there unless someone corrects him. Another common one he makes is using make/do properly.

#9 RoutariEnjinu

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Posted 26 January 2010 - 15:20

I communicate with 'foreigners', and it seems pointless to correct them, when I understand what they mean 100%

It would just slow things down and kill the conversation.

Languages are always evolving.

#10 kar

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Posted 26 January 2010 - 15:21

Translate his English into German and it starts to make sense why he constructs his sentences the way he does.

When I write/speak German, particularly after an absence of using the language, I tend to think what I want to say in English then translate. Naturally this ends up sounding a bit odd.

Michael has had a relative break from English speaking, so it's probably a case of being rusty. And things like two-ten, that's just a mistake. It's like me going ein hundert drei und eins. Rather than ein hundert eins und dreissig. In the heat of the moment when in a non-native language things like that happen.

Also something to remember for non-native English speakers, things like tenses and prepositions are very difficult (as German ones are for me :)). You can often still understand what someone is saying but it just sounds a bit off.

#11 Claudius

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Posted 26 January 2010 - 15:22


So far I haven't heard a lot of his usual "honestly".
Hopefully he's lost it along the way.



#12 kar

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Posted 26 January 2010 - 15:22

Another common one he makes is using make/do properly.


Germans really do get confused trying to translate machen und nehmen into English.

Edited by kar, 26 January 2010 - 15:22.


#13 Biggles Flies Undone

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Posted 26 January 2010 - 15:23

Michael's English was better years ago when he was with Benetton. I suspect it's lack of use being in Italy and at home that causes his english to be a little broken. However, he speaks well enough to be easily understood, but Nico's English is much more natural.


But, reading the forums at Gazzetta Dello Sport they say he couldn't speak Italian at Ferrari except basic stuff like ordering at a restaurant.

Rosberg's English is perfect. Interestingly, he won a place at Imperial Collage London to read engineering.

Edited by Biggles Flies Undone, 26 January 2010 - 15:28.


#14 bonneville

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Posted 26 January 2010 - 15:25

Perhaps it's... a mistake?


I think his press people should tell him. Because he's been repeating "two ten" in a number of interviews. :p

#15 LuckyStrike1

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Posted 26 January 2010 - 15:26

So far I haven't heard a lot of his usual "honestly".
Hopefully he's lost it along the way.



He probably hasn't started lying yet.

#16 senna da silva

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Posted 26 January 2010 - 15:28

But, reading the forums at Gazzetta Dello Sport they say he couldn't speak Italian at Ferrari except basic stuff like ordering in a restaurant.


Was he speaking English in Italy?

#17 Group B

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Posted 26 January 2010 - 15:31

He probably hasn't started lying yet.

True; I guess he'll need to hang around the pits with Lewis and the Mac boys to help him get up to pace :up:

#18 Ferrim

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Posted 26 January 2010 - 15:32

Well, if Michael's English is peculiar, what can we say about Alonso's...?

But it's enough to understand them so no problem.

#19 Biggles Flies Undone

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Posted 26 January 2010 - 15:32

Was he speaking English in Italy?


That's what the Italian Forumites were saying. The implication being he couldn't be bothered to learn Italian like Irvine did?

Edited by Biggles Flies Undone, 26 January 2010 - 15:33.


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#20 bonneville

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Posted 26 January 2010 - 15:33

Good Italian skills IMHO.

Not as good as Fernando Alonso's, not as good as his own English, but good enough to please the crowds.

A couple grammar mistakes, a couple of hesitations, but he laughs himself about it.

Here's an interview in Valencia (Italian, no subtitles):

Edited by bonneville, 26 January 2010 - 15:34.


#21 undersquare

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Posted 26 January 2010 - 15:36

It's a funny thing, if you see his early interviews his English hasn't improved at all since he was 21. And the other German drivers all speak it better. Just not one of his strengths I suppose, I think it does slightly affect the way he comes across though, compared to say Nico or Sutil. Is he more spontaneous and open in German?

#22 Biggles Flies Undone

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Posted 26 January 2010 - 15:37

Good Italian skills IMHO.

Not as good as Fernando Alonso's, not as good as his own English, but good enough to please the crowds.

A couple grammar mistakes, a couple of hesitations, but he laughs himself about it.

Here's an interview in Valencia (Italian, no subtitles):


That sounds good to me !

Maybe they are just putting the boot in for perceived traitorous behaviour !

#23 Mark Bennett

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Posted 26 January 2010 - 15:37

His English is a lot better than my German...

If the OP wishes to improve their English then listening to the English drivers is probably a better way to do it (except of course, Mark Blundell *)






(* Apologies to Mark if he sees this !)

#24 DEVO

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Posted 26 January 2010 - 15:40

Some sayyyyyyyyyyyyyyyy....... ;-)

#25 Group B

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Posted 26 January 2010 - 15:41

It's a funny thing, if you see his early interviews his English hasn't improved at all since he was 21. And the other German drivers all speak it better. Just not one of his strengths I suppose, I think it does slightly affect the way he comes across though, compared to say Nico or Sutil. Is he more spontaneous and open in German?

I think some people just have a natural gift for languages and some don't; just like anything else, from maths to table tennis.

#26 RoutariEnjinu

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Posted 26 January 2010 - 15:43

Mark what was off of ITV?

#27 Biggles Flies Undone

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Posted 26 January 2010 - 15:45

If the OP wishes to improve their English then listening to the English drivers is probably a better way to do it (except of course, Mark Blundell *)


(* Apologies to Mark if he sees this !)


I'd be a little bit careful with Lewis. Sometimes he speaks a sort of mid-Atlantic English with some London slang thrown in!
Other times RP.

Edited by Biggles Flies Undone, 26 January 2010 - 15:46.


#28 kar

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Posted 26 January 2010 - 15:46

I think some people just have a natural gift for languages and some don't; just like anything else, from maths to table tennis.


It's also how young you started learning.

I can't do that rolling r thing in either German or Croatian and that's that, just can't do it. Had I started learning it when I was 5 like most German kids do English now, it would be different.

But even the majority of utterly fluent foreign English speakers say some things funny in some way.

Edited by kar, 26 January 2010 - 15:46.


#29 Ferrim

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Posted 26 January 2010 - 15:47

His English is a lot better than my German...

If the OP wishes to improve their English then listening to the English drivers is probably a better way to do it (except of course, Mark Blundell *)






(* Apologies to Mark if he sees this !)



The problem for a non-native English speaker is that you understand better other non-native people :rotfl: and particularly the ones from your own country, for obvious reasons.

I understand nearly everything Alonso says in a press conference. I will understand most of what Schumacher says. But I will have more trouble to understand Button, or Hamilton... The downside of hearing too much Alonso and Schumacher is that I could finish talking about champion-chip and member-chip, and making strange sentences!

BTW I've found out that listening to Murray Walker does miracles for your English, as he vocalises very clearly and can be easily followed (particularly if you compare him with James Hunt!). And if you love F1 and watching old races, then it's great :)

#30 Sausage

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Posted 26 January 2010 - 15:48

This news is just in: Germany's Michael Schumacher's english is worse than that of a native english speaker. Back to you Jerry :smoking:

#31 apoka

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Posted 26 January 2010 - 15:48

But, reading the forums at Gazzetta Dello Sport they say he couldn't speak Italian at Ferrari except basic stuff like ordering at a restaurant.


Here's an interview in Valencia (Italian, no subtitles):


Apparently, you need pretty good language skills to order a pizza in Italy. :rotfl:

Edited by apoka, 26 January 2010 - 15:49.


#32 dabrasco

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Posted 26 January 2010 - 15:51

its fine, he is understood

#33 postajegenye

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Posted 26 January 2010 - 15:51

I guess all of the drivers speak English reasonably well. I mean, they can be understood easily 95% of the time, sometimes there are confusing grammatical mistakes but you can make out what they want to say... and that's what matters.

I've been learning English for several years and I still make too many mistakes. I guess these drivers don't usually learn grammar from a book, they sort of pick up the language by being in an English-speaking environment, it's totally understandable that they make grammatical mistakes.

There are drivers who can speak very good English, there are some whose English is worse, but that doesn't mean anything... some people are good at learning languages, some people less good. They can still be extra-intelligent even if they are not able to master a language properly.

Also, there are differences between the languages... I speak German and English as foreign langauges, and my German is much better, it's more easier to me (I'm Hungarian) even though I've been learning both languages for the same period of time. So maybe to some drivers English is a pretty hard language to learn.

#34 Dragonfly

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Posted 26 January 2010 - 15:53

Oral fluency is the most difficult part of using a foreign language. At the same time it degrades very fast if you stop using that language actively.
Know by myself.
So with time Michael's spoken English will become better.

#35 Mark Bennett

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Posted 26 January 2010 - 16:57

Don't try and learn English from the "voice-over presenters" on Motors TV - most seem to be reading verbatim from a badly translated script that someone French (who thinks they "know English" ) has thrown together.
Pure nonsense on mny occasions. :eek:

#36 potmotr

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Posted 26 January 2010 - 16:59

Ralf is the better english speaker of the Schumacher brothers.

But we can all understand Michael, no big deal.

#37 Mark Bennett

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Posted 26 January 2010 - 16:59

This news is just in: Germany's Michael Schumacher's english is worse than that of a native english speaker. Back to you Jerry :smoking:



"Thanks Bob, that's really useful info - who'd a-thunk-it?

Now here's Sherry with more revelations.. .So, what does "For Sure" actually mean Sherry? "

#38 Clatter

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Posted 26 January 2010 - 17:06

Seems to me like a pretty open and shut case of a non-native speaker who hasn't totally mastered the finer points of a language. Nothing much to see, frankly.


Same here. Its easy enough to understand what he means so no biggie.

#39 Lazarus II

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Posted 26 January 2010 - 17:12

His english is better than my german, so I give him a free pass on this one.

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#40 jeze

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Posted 26 January 2010 - 17:13

His English is certainly better than most other non-native racers, including the catastrophe Kimi (even though he has a pretty large vocabulary). I think it's just fine, but accent-wise mine (I'm form Sweden) is more spot-on, but speaking from heart in a foreign language is notoriously difficult.

#41 alfista

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Posted 26 January 2010 - 17:15

I guess all of the drivers speak English reasonably well. I mean, they can be understood easily 95% of the time, sometimes there are confusing grammatical mistakes but you can make out what they want to say... and that's what matters.


David Coulthard was the driver whose English was worst by a huge margin. It's of course not his grammar or vocabulary but his Scottish accent. It was extremely hard to translate his post-race interviews live.
And Colin McRae in WRC was even worse.
Then all Finnish drivers seem to have learned their English in a very same place. Maybe Mika Häkkinen has opened his courses of English to make some money out of his experience? :wave:
But it's not so difficult to speak "racing" English even if your normal English is not that good. Recently I was witness when brilliant karter, asked what was the most difficult moment, replied instantly: "Giving interview in English!" But heard that interview and it was absolutely OK even by F1 standards.

#42 Bloggsworth

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Posted 26 January 2010 - 17:18

Bloody hell! Now he owns the English language - Is he going to insist that S for Schumacher becomes the first word in the alphabet, as he is superstitious about the number 19..........................

Edited by Bloggsworth, 26 January 2010 - 17:19.


#43 P.Dron

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Posted 26 January 2010 - 17:19

Don't know where to post this. I'm not a native speaker, yet I'd love to improve my English. Michael Schumacher seems to have a very obscure way of forming phrases in English. I find quite strange the way he speaks. As in this video:

"It's something important for me to see the combination that I'm now joining into."

"To return to Mercedes it's a great happening to me"

"In two ten naturally with this great combination of Ross Brawn, of Mercedes GP and the experience that I got, we can only aim for one target, that is winning the championship".


'I prefer to have clean underwear.'

'There's a fantastic washing machine in the Mercedes motorhome.'

'Ross Brawn has the cleanest underpants in the pit lane.'

#44 Galko877

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Posted 26 January 2010 - 18:03

That's what the Italian Forumites were saying. The implication being he couldn't be bothered to learn Italian like Irvine did?



I have seen a video on YT where he talked to Valentino Rossi in Italian. I have also seen one where he gave interview in Italian. His Italian might not be perfect (I don't know because I don't speak it), but he certainly seemed to understand everything and express himself in it. So his Italian is certainly better than just ordering basic foods in a restaurant.

As for his English, I think interestingly there were times when he seemed better at it. Perhaps he is out of practice now.

Edited by Galko877, 26 January 2010 - 18:09.


#45 gaston_foix

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Posted 26 January 2010 - 18:27

Good Italian skills IMHO.

Not as good as Fernando Alonso's, not as good as his own English, but good enough to please the crowds.

A couple grammar mistakes, a couple of hesitations, but he laughs himself about it.

Here's an interview in Valencia (Italian, no subtitles):


I think he speaks very well for a german. I heard that is not easy for a german language speaker is to learn a latin language.

#46 MegaManson

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Posted 26 January 2010 - 18:31

Unbelieveable

Have the Schumi bashers got so desperate that they are stooping so low as to bash him because of his use of a language that is not his native mother tongue !!

I bet his English is 10 times better than anyone in this thread's German unless of course they are German

#47 gaston_foix

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Posted 26 January 2010 - 18:35

Unbelieveable

Have the Schumi bashers got so desperate that they are stooping so low as to bash him because of his use of a language that is not his native mother tongue !!

I bet his English is 10 times better than anyone in this thread's German unless of course they are German

Yea but... the german language is so...unlearnable.....

Edited by gaston_foix, 26 January 2010 - 19:03.


#48 r4mses

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Posted 26 January 2010 - 18:46

I think his press people should tell him. Because he's been repeating "two ten" in a number of interviews. :p


In Germany you actually hear quite a lot of ppl saying "zwei zehn" ~ "two ten".

Btw, how does this sound to native speakers? (starting at 0:25) Germany's new EU commissioner :x

Edited by r4mses, 26 January 2010 - 18:49.


#49 midgrid

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Posted 26 January 2010 - 19:06

David Coulthard was the driver whose English was worst by a huge margin. It's of course not his grammar or vocabulary but his Scottish accent. It was extremely hard to translate his post-race interviews live.
And Colin McRae in WRC was even worse.


Apparently, Peter Sauber once confessed to a British team principal that he couldn't understand a word then-Arrows boss Tom Walkinshaw was saying, due to his thick accent. The other team principal said "Don't worry Peter, I can't understand him either!" :lol:

#50 Xaus

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Posted 26 January 2010 - 19:13

hehe, like others said Michael is perfectly understandable in what he's trying to say but sometimes the results can be pretty funny although I'm not laughing AT him.

Still, let me see if I can dig up this golden quote...

It really is as if my batteries were fully loaded. My energy is back completely. I really notice how the prickle is coming, how motivated I am because I so much look forward to this competition. It is about time to start this whole thing.


Off his official site. Glad to hear his prickle is coming just fine. :p