“How do you like Germany so far?”
Taken at face value, the question is insincere and pointless, for no true answer is expected nor given. It’s stated merely as an introduction–not to glean information at all, but to say “hello” in a slightly less boring way. Just as one does not wax eloquent on one’s physical maladies when asked how one is doing, so too does one refrain from discussing the ups and downs of living abroad in any detail when asked how life is in Germany. Instead, the usual tendency is to lapse into hyperbole (“It’s AMAZING”) in response.
I can think of several rhetorical, cultural, and yes, economic reasons why this is done, but I find none of them particularly pleasing or valid. To be fair, my real beef with hyperbole in this context is that at first I actually believed the exaggerations of others and was thus ashamed and frustrated that my life’s journey was failing to measure up. But then, when I began hearing things that I participated in described by others in such fantastical terms , I realized the problem was with my literal interpretation of the language rather than any dearth of adventure on my part. Indeed, when many of my peers describe something as amazing it has very little to do with the dictionary definition, but functions in an ad hoc role to succinctly summarize an answer that for whatever reason is too long to give.
As stated before, I can understand why this is done to some degree, but it’s not something I can agree with because (improper) repetition renders any given word as vanity. Consider if a priest utters a profanity in an extreme situation–the effect would be at once startling to anyone who hears it because the economy of its use in the case of the priest makes it more powerful in the rare situations it is used. I thus put a high premium on being circumspect with language, if for no other reason than to be able to have the ability to powerfully describe a truly unique experience when it comes along every so often.
To hear the point made again in a much better way, I’ll leave it in the capable hands of Eddie Izzard: