Misspelt addresses/Briefermittlungsstelle

In an article on the delivery of letters to confusing addresses, the Süddeutsche Zeitung reports that a schoolboy addressed his application to the police to the following street address: Berthaübelsiegfriedcäsarheinrichemilrichardstraße 2-6.

He had phoned up to ask how the street name was spelt: Büscherstraße, and not recognized the phonetic alphabet when he heard it.

The writer wanted to do a practical/internship with the police, but they turned him down on the basis of the envelope. As the heading says, quoting a common German expression, ‘More stupid than the police permit’ (Dümmer als die Polizei erlaubt).

Here are more phonetic alphabets (not in the IPA sense), and Wikipedia on the NATO phonetic alphabet.

LATER NOTE: here is another list of phonetic alphabets, suggested by a commenter.

5 thoughts on “Misspelt addresses/Briefermittlungsstelle

  1. :-)) I happened to be “more stupid than the police permit” as well, when I was very young and I heard the German spelling method for the first time in my life. I used to work in a campsite and once I had to report to one of the guests that a near relative of his had died. I was so anguished and so loaded with such a woeful duty! Then the lady over the phone began to say Siegfried Anton…and while writing down name after name I began wondering how many names the poor dead owned, I got it!!

  2. This reminds me of an incident when I was taking my first intensive German course, and was admitedly still very wet behind the ears. During our first dictation (I was terrified), the teacher read a sentence like this:
    Weimar (Kulturstadt Europas in 1999) liegt xx kilometer östlich von…
    (or something similar).

    My rendering:
    Weimar klammerauf Kulturstadt Europas in 1999 klammerzu liegt xx…

    Not quite as spectacular as your police example but I still laugh about it. I wasn’t the only one though; other students in the class would write out words like “Komma” and “Doppelpunkt”…

  3. You know, I had a text to translate once, a long legal document, where that Klammer auf came into the German, but in a rather subtle way, and when I asked the lawyer what it meant it became clear that it had happened between tape and keyboard. And I’ve heard another version of the Siegfried Anton story too.

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