The Subjunctive Mood is a Sign of Weakness12 Nov 2007
I've reported before that in Germany you have to say no very directly for it to be understood as no. I've recently discovered that the same principle can apply to "yes".
Recently in a hotel Frauke mislaid her cell phone and sent me to the reception desk to check if anyone had found it. Indeed, a cell phone had been found, and it looked very similar to Frauke's phone, and I was asked if it was her phone. I couldn't be sure, though, without opening the case, so trying to be friendly and polite I replied "Yes, it could be." (Ja, es könnte sein.)
This was not accepted as an affirmative reply. I forget the exact response, but it was along the lines of "Well are you sure or are you not?" or "Is that supposed to be yes or no?" I had to start over and say that Frauke's name would appear on the display when it was turned on, and that would prove whether it was her phone or not.
In Germany it pays to be sure of yourself, even when you're not. Arrogance here is not a negative attribute, but rather a prerequisite. :-)