Können Sie ihre Musik, er, stoppen?
August 14, 2009 4:39 PM   Subscribe

I've just moved into a lovely apartment in Frankfurt, Germany, only to discover that my neighbor likes to play loud techno music on his stereo at 1 a.m. I don't speak German. Help?

I'd like to leave a note in their mailbox, politely asking them to keep the volume low at night in the hope that he's simply clueless about apartment etiquette and not an antisocial jerk. However, my command of German is nowhere near enough for the task, so I'm turning to the the Hive Mind for help to translate the following (or something to the same effect) for me:

"Hello, this is your neighbor from [Flat number] in [Building number]. May I ask you to please keep the music low after 11 p.m.? My bedroom is just on the other side of the wall and the noise is keeping me awake at night. Thanks!"

If this fails, do you have any suggestions on how to handle this situation? Moving out is not an option, as I'm living in company housing - neighbor is not an employee of the same company, though - and I'm assuming calling the cops on him would be pretty difficult with my current German skills. I have tried earplugs, but they don't help with the bass rumblings. :-/
posted by doctorpiorno to Human Relations (15 answers total)
I was in a similar situation... I found that people who are blaring music at 1am generally do not respond well to notes or social etiquette. I had to move out... This is one of the most frustrating experiences I think anyone can have.

Next time you cant sleep just go knock on his door and go hang out with sign language and hand gestures, you wont be sleeping anyway.
posted by outsider at 4:46 PM on August 14, 2009

Best answer: You do realise most Germans have basic command of English, right? (I will assume someone who listens to techno is not of a generation that did not have English at school)

Anyway, here goes for a translation:
"Hallo, ich bin Ihr Nachbar aus Wohnung Nr [number] im Gebäude Nr [number]. Wäre es möglich, Ihre Musik ab 11 Uhr abends leiser zu stellen? Mein Schlafzimmer ist gleich nebenan und ich kann leider deswegen nachts nicht schlafen. Vielen Dank für Ihr Verständnis!"

But honestly, I'd just go over there and speak to him in English.
posted by ClarissaWAM at 4:48 PM on August 14, 2009 [4 favorites]

Knock on their door and ask politely, at 6:30 AM.
posted by sammyo at 4:51 PM on August 14, 2009 [4 favorites]

If he's German and is young enough to listen to techno, chances are that he'll understand English perfectly well. It could also be that if most apartments are used for corporate housing, he might think that it's empty over the weekend. I'd go knock on his door, apologize for not speaking german, and tell him that you need to sleep (with gestures if necessary), but use your judgement.

(well, I'm in Switzerland, and here they call in the armed forces if you disturb people after 10pm or on sundays, but you get the idea...)
posted by effbot at 4:53 PM on August 14, 2009

Banging on the wall is a universal language.
posted by rokusan at 5:23 PM on August 14, 2009 [7 favorites]

Seconding ClarissaWAM and effbot. Having lived in Germany, I can tell you young Germans into techno music almost always speak very, very good English.
posted by Dukat at 5:28 PM on August 14, 2009

One problem with a very very polite and somewhat lengthy note is that you will not understand any response in German.

Banging on the wall and/or knocking on the door bellowing "TOOOO LOUD!!!!" will communicate your point more effectively.
posted by desuetude at 5:59 PM on August 14, 2009

Nthing the above:

All the young Germans I met don't just have "some" English- they speak it more or less like natives. Not only that, they get a kick out of practicing on native speakers. So that might help you get off on the right foot with him.
posted by drjimmy11 at 7:35 PM on August 14, 2009

The translation above looks pretty damn good to me, but just speak to him in English- it'll get things done much quicker and more amicably than leaving a translated note in a language you don't speak.
posted by dunkadunc at 10:23 PM on August 14, 2009

I don't know whether you signed a lease, or are subletting, or have another arrangement; however, I can tell you that most German apartment buildings have something called the Hausordnung or house rules. The Hausordnung states things like how public areas are to be maintained, sidewalks shoveled, trash disposed of, and, most important for you, what the Ruhezeiten or quiet hours of the building are. Your lack of German is a problem, though, because you can't read the rules, but I feel pretty sure they exist for your apartment block. Do you have a lease or any other documents pertaining to your occupancy of the apartment? Can a friend help you out with discovering what the Hausordnung contains? You may think it sounds like a flimsy document, but I assure you that order-lovin' Germans take it very seriously, mainly because people live so closely together there. Talking to your landlord/lady (or the Hausmeister, i.e., the super) may be helpful as well, especially if you have a copy of the Hausordnung in your hand when you show up to talk to him or her about the disturbance.

Good luck to you.
posted by sister nunchaku of love and mercy at 10:43 PM on August 14, 2009

Response by poster: Thanks for all the answers so far! I'm going to give it a shot and knock on their door today to try and explain the situation, although I'll take ClarissaWAM's translation with me just to be on the safe side. From what I have seen so far, this might not be the kind of neighborhood where everyone speaks fluent English.

For the record, I have tried banging on the wall already, but that didn't work - whether they chose to ignore it or they just couldn't hear me over the ridiculously loud music, I can't tell for sure. I'll look into the Hausordnung, too, although getting my hands on a copy will be tricky - my company takes care of all contact with the landlords, and they tend to move pretty slowly.

Thanks again for all the advice!
posted by doctorpiorno at 2:06 AM on August 15, 2009

Best answer: Hmm, I'm going to go against the flow here and say that it is altogether possible that he doesn't speak English - the Germany I live in contains loads of young people without functional English. Not everyone does an Abitur, and non-Abiturienten are also allowed to rent apartments and listen to umpa-whumpa music.

Let me give you some advice. By Anglo Saxon culture standards, Germans are by and large pretty confrontation-friendly. By and large, Anglo Saxon culture members are pretty avoidant by German standards. I think you'll get better results if you don't start things out in the passive-aggressive notes zone. When you hear the umpa-whumpa at 1am, go right over there, ring the bell until he answers, and, assertively but pleasantly and loudly, as if straining to be heard about the racket, say "Hallo! Ich bin Ihr Nachbar, doctorpiorno [you could offer your hand and see if he introduces himself here but he might not, so don't wait too long or it will do your head in]. Können Sie ihre Musik ein Bisschen leiser machen?" If he isn't a sociopath, he will assent. Say danke. If he puts it down and then creeps it back up again, start the whole foofaraw with the Hausordnung etc, but first try to be very direct and keep it simple, assertive and polite and see what you get.
posted by Your Time Machine Sucks at 3:12 AM on August 15, 2009

There are city ordinances in most parts of Germany that forbid playing loud music from 10 PM to 8 AM. If he continues to disrupt you just call the police and they'll come out to talk to him.
posted by Aanidaani at 7:44 AM on August 15, 2009

Or you could go the international language route: put your hands over your ears, grimace, and say "Music" (the German and English words for music are basically the same). Bitte, die Musik ist zu laut. If you need to say something.
posted by Taken Outtacontext at 4:45 AM on August 16, 2009

No matter what you do, talk with him in English, if that falls back do the whole "Bitte, kannst du deine Musik leiser stellen?" bit, then you can talk to the Heimleiter or whoever else is in charge of the building. However, I highly advise that you look into some language classes- After all, you are living in Germany right now and it's not a terribly hard language to learn.
posted by dunkadunc at 8:21 AM on August 16, 2009

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