Originally posted on my blog on November 13th, 2007:
The affirmative "mmm-hmmm" that I'm used to in America is not used here in Germany. I feel stupid every time it slips out. Instead, they say just "mmmm" with a tone that resembles the "hmmm" that means, "I didn't hear/understand you" in American backchannels. I'm sure I've confused plenty of Germans.
German: I started to write that paper.
German: It is going to be a hard assignment.
Michelle: What is?
German: The paper.
Michelle: Oh, you started to write it already?