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I am not a German speaker at any level so I used Google to translate the following:

Holy shit der spricht so gut Deutsch, meine Steuererklärung ist feucht geworden
From a comment following this video

The Google translation goes as follows: Holy shit, he speaks German so well, my tax return is damp

I'm British and clearly this has the form of a joke. It even looks as though it is probably a good joke. However I have no idea what the reference is.

Question

What does "my tax return is damp" refer to?

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    It must be a joke, yes. But TBH I don't get it either (and I am a native speaker). It probably needs more context to understand it. The video isn't helpful regarding that either. Also, I think the translation should be "... my tax return got damp.". Not a funny or common joke in any case. – πάντα ῥεῖ Oct 22 '20 at 21:16
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    The correct translation is wet. – infinitezero Oct 22 '20 at 22:03
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    In my opinion the joke would be better if it would say: "Holy shit, der spricht so ein korrektes Deutsch, meine Steuererklärung ist feucht geworden", where I used "korrekt" (correct) instead of "gut" (good)... because I think in no case, that a "Steuererklärung" is written in good german, it is not nice to read... – Jan Oct 23 '20 at 15:37
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    This is probably more funny if you are 14 years old. – Helena Oct 24 '20 at 20:06
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    FWIW I'm German and I find that comment at best to be an extremely bad attempt at a joke. – Sixtyfive Oct 25 '20 at 0:07
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Explaining jokes is not fun though ...

  • "feucht geworden" (became moist) refers to what happens to female body parts when excited, and the word "die Steuererklärung" (tax return form) has feminine gender in German
  • German tax return forms are written in some of the most advanced and hardest to understand German, and bureaucracy fetishism is a stereotype for Germans (so it's kind of a self-deprecating joke).
  • Paper can get wet (double entendre)
  • As another answer pointed out, tax returns are considered an extremely "dry" subject.

So this guy's German is so good that a Steuererklärung form gets aroused/moist.

Well, it's a Youtube comment joke that takes most of its wit from its dry baffling absurdity. So it really doesn't work well after being explained.

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    I don't think it's necessary for the joke that Steuerklärung is feminine. "Meine Steuererklärung hat 'nen Ständer bekommen" would work just as well. – infinitezero Oct 22 '20 at 21:33
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    We're not discussing that now, right? ¯\_(ツ)_/¯ – HalvarF Oct 22 '20 at 21:35
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    Okay, that makes perfect sense now! In English we would probably phrase it, "This guy's German is so good that even my Tax form is getting horny!" The joke doesn't translate well though, because English speakers are not anally retentive about tax forms! Maybe it would work with spell-checker or auto-correct or grammar-book in English. – chasly - supports Monica Oct 22 '20 at 23:17
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    I'm not exactly sure the feminine of the noun has anything to do here. -1 – c.p. Oct 23 '20 at 3:22
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    @infinitezero: I agree with your point that the gender of the noun is irrelevant. However, I do think the joke works best with "wet", as it is the opposite of "trocken". Note how "trocken" can be interpreted in two ways here, as "absolutely not aroused(-ing)" and as "a tedious, unmotivating matter", both of which are very fitting for the normal state of tax return declarations. – O. R. Mapper Oct 23 '20 at 5:01
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Eine Steuererklärung ist eine äußerst trockene Angelegenheit. Der trockene Charakter ist nahezu sprichwörtlich. Im Englischen kann der Begriff "dry" auf analoge Weise benutzt werden.

Das Gegenteil von trocken ist feucht und nass. Eine extreme Situation kann mit einer Metapher der Form "die Hölle ist zugefroren" ausgedrückt werden. Analog funktioniert "die Steuererklärung ist feucht geworden"; das trockenste, was man sich nach der Wüste Gobi vorstellen kann, wird feucht. Auch ohne die frivole Anspielung auf den Zustand weiblicher Erregung wäre dies, als überraschende Metapher, schon komisch; die sexuelle Komponente verstärkt den Effekt.

Meines Erachtens bildet aber die sprichwörtliche Trockenheit der Steuererklärung das Fundament, auf dem die witzige Bemerkung basiert. Das Geschlecht des Wortes Steuererklärung tut dagegen nichts zur Sache - über das Geschlecht von Wörtern reflektiert man als Muttersprachler in Normalfall überhaupt nicht. Auch die stereotype Verliebtheit des Deutschen in Anträge und Formulare halte ich nicht für konstitutiv für den Scherz, Steuererklärungen sind international und sie sind international eine recht trockene Angelegenheit. Und für mehrere Länder des Ostblocks, sowie für Griechenland, Italien, Frankreich, England kann ich sagen, dass man überall die eigene Bürokratie für die schlimmste hält.


A tax return is an extremely dry matter. The dry character is almost proverbial. In English the term "dry" can be used in an analogous way.

The opposite of dry is wet or damp. An extreme situation can be expressed with a metaphor of the form "hell is frozen over". Analogously, "the tax return has become wet"; the dryest thing you can imagine after the Gobi desert becomes wet. Even without the frivolous allusion to the state of female excitement, this would be funny, as a surprising metaphor; the sexual component intensifies the effect.

In my opinion, however, the proverbial dryness of the tax return forms the foundation on which the witty remark is based. The gender of the word "tax return", on the other hand, does not matter - as a native speaker, you don't normally reflect on the gender of words at all. Nor do I consider the stereotypical infatuation of German with applications and forms to be constitutive for the joke; tax returns are international and they are a rather dry affair internationally. And for several countries of the Eastern Bloc, as well as for Greece, Italy, France and England, I can say that everywhere one considers one's own bureaucracy to be the worst.

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    Thanks. I hadn't considered wet as the opposite of dry in that sense. – chasly - supports Monica Oct 22 '20 at 23:32
  • Meines Erachtens nach hat das null mit der Trockenheit der Steuererklärung zu tun. Steuererklärungen sind International, aber der Stereotyp nicht. – infinitezero Oct 23 '20 at 10:19
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    Ich denke schon, dass die stereotype deutsche Ordnungsliebe für den Witz konstituierend ist. Für eine andere Sprache/Nation würde ein anderes Klischee gewählt werden. – Chieron Oct 23 '20 at 10:33
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    The point about the Steuererklärung being dry is valid, but otherwise this answer is just misleading to people whose German is not good enough to understand the joke. The innuendo is blatantly obvious and the heart of the joke. The antonym trocken <=> feucht is not nearly as idiomatic as is suggested here, certainly not comparable to the hot <=> icy one for hell. I feel reminded of my old pastor carefully misinterpreting certain parts of the bible for us liitle kids back in the last century. – HalvarF Oct 23 '20 at 12:03
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    Is a German answer appropriate for a question where the OP explicitly states not to speak (read) German at all? – Ángel Oct 24 '20 at 22:26
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The joke is as follows:

A German stereotype is, that German are always very accurate and rule/law obiding citizens. Thus, doing the tax declaration is a very "German" thing to do. The speaker compliments the German (speaking) skills of another person, by saying that his tax return got wet (i.e. horny). So the German Steuerklärung gets excited, that the other person's German is so good.

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He speaks German so well that the tax ("Steuererklärung") will get horny (horny = wet => "feucht"), because the tax is an official text from the authorities and it is usually not written so well and clearly, that a normal human can just read and understand immediately...

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