Today I needed to post a letter to the Foreigners Department of our local District Office but while writing the address, I felt unsure about the spelling of the word "Ausländerbehörde" (Foreigners Department).
Well, as usual LEO was the place to go - Leo is an online dictionary that can be used for looking up words between German and English, French, Spanish, Italian, Chinese (!) and Russian. It is a great site and I use it on a daily basis.
However, today I was taken by surprise...
Do you see the English translation of "Ausländerbehörde"? At first I looked in dismay... and then started laughing. I wasn't a foreigner after all - I was an ALIEN:-) A legal alien! You can have a closer look here:
I checked Leo's translation of the word "Ausländer", and apparently one of its meanings is "alien" - together with "foreign national", "foreign person", "foreigner" and "stranger". It is unbelievable that all their translations of "Ausländerbehörde" were connected with aliens, rather than foreigners. "Ausländerbehörde" is a normal word, which I have only heard in connection with the public authority responsible for foreigners. What is more, as far as my knowledge of German could be trusted, the word "Außerirdische" is being used more often when it comes to aliens.
On the other side, the whole story can be seen as a reminder that nobody is perfect (Leo is a really good online dictionary and I can only recommend it) - which gives the permission to stop trying to be that perfect ourselves:-)))