January 28, 2011

You DO Know German

Gather round children. Do I have a treat for you today! Did you know that YOU know German?!? I mean besides the obligatory "Heil Hitler" (can I even write that?!?) and Brüno's "Ich Don't Think So", which sadly has only one word of German in it.

It is not an easy language. But really, learning any language other than your own is pretty tough. There are some weird things going on in Germans, though. Oh, how I love when the Deutschers place verbs at the end of the sentence. Imagine saying "Would you like later German speaking practice?" and trust me, that is a fairly simple example of this nonsense.

Plus, the Germans like to take three, four....eighteen words and smoosh them all together into one word. For instance, there is Fernsprecherteilnehmerverzeichnis, which if I have broken it down correctly, means Phonebook. Weird, because the German word for phone is 'Telefon' and the word for book is 'Buch'. Could've been soo much easier, but noooo.

Although I am being a little hard on the German language, I do feel lucky that so many German words were morphed into fairly common English words. We use them seamlessly in everyday conversation. So yes, you too know German. Get our your resume and add it on now!

For example, I know you know the German words for 'lightning' and 'thunder', you just may not realize it. Reach back about a month ago and you will find the answer.

"You know Dasher and Dancer
And Prancer and Vixen,
Comet and Cupid
And Donner and Blitzen.
But do you recall
The most famous reindeer of all?"

Yep, 'Donner' is thunder and 'Blitzen' is lightning. Puts a whole new meaning on 'getting blitz', doesn't it!

Of course there is:
Kindergarten - literally a place for children to grow.
Doppelgänger - your identical double in the world.
Briefcase - 'Brief' coming from the German for a letter.
Spiel - From the German word for Play or Game, it means to tell the whole, lengthy story.
Schmutz - literally the word for dirty.
Schuss - ever heard someone describing the way they ski by going "schuss, schuss, schuss" Well, little did they know that they were explaining in German, because it's the German word for skiing. 

And even more:
Various Sources: 1, 2 and 3
Sounds easy, right?! Wrong. There are so many 'false friends' that I am sure I embarrass myself even more with every passing German conversation.

Some examples of good ol' German false friends are:
Lied - which is a song
Gift - poison. Makes you think about where we got that word?!
Pickle - pimple. Don't ever tell a German that you would like pickles on your hamburger.
Handy - cell phone. But sure, I guess it is handy at times.
Bad - bath. I kept seeing this on town signs everywhere. Bad Kreuznach, Bad Hersfeld, etc. I just thought the villages were being punished.
Bald - soon. For some men, you will be bald bald enough.
Fast - almost. That one still gets me.
Menü - meal. The hubs' favorite order, "Ein BigMac Menü mit Cola, Pommes und Ketchup"

And my all time pet peeve, DAS BOOT!!! Ok, I get it. I am a big fan of Beer Fest too. I think it is hilarious to watch someone drink out of a large glass boot. But really, you are shouting "THE BOAT" and it is getting on my nerves. While you are wearing your skank-a-licous Dirndl at your fake Oktoberfest, why not add in a touch of authenticity and yell out "DER STIEFEL". That should get those Germans going. 

Various Sources: 1, 2, and 3

And one last story that I have to tell. I taught an advanced English class last night. (I'm so smart, I know. haha) It was with one of the nicest German men I have had the pleasure of meeting. He is so soft spoken and polite, about in his 50's and really pushing himself to learn English for his job. He works for a big software company as a Marketing Manager and he was telling me all about this Messe, or Exhibition that his company is going to in March. I tried to keep a straight face when he referred to himself and other company employees that would be joining him at the exhibition as Exhibitionists. Haha. Poor guy, I would have made the same mistake. And then I of course had to tell him what an Exhibitionist was, yeah, that is never awkward.

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  1. Donner is Rudolph's dad.

    Thanks for the listings. I really was under the assumption I didn't know that much German. Turns out I do.

  2. Donner is Rudolph's dad?!? Who is his mom then? Does he need Maury to help him find out? Weird, twisted Christmas carols

  3. I'm a HUGE fan of learning languages, but other than "gesundheit" German hadn't been on my list ... 'til now! Thank you for making me feel smarter than I actually am ... :)

  4. I always thought it was "Donder"?? I need to brush up on my german(not that I speak any to brush up on), and I also need to watch the Rudolph Christmas special again!!

    I am going to call pimples [pickles] from now on!!!

  5. I'm glad I found your blog. We lived in Germany for two years. I used to take German in school back home in Sweden and it was still hard. It was harder for my husband who was born raised in California.

    My first grader learned quickly because nobody around him spoke any English. By the time we managed pretty good in German we moved to Bavaria. It took time to figure out what they were saying there. By far we enjoyed our time in Bavaria the most..

  6. awesome post! man, that boot of beer looks dreamy * TGIF :D new follower ...


  7. Thanks for the German lesson! I am of German decent and sadly have never visited Germany and don't know the first thing about their language. Thanks for teaching me!


  8. I think I now know more German than I do Finnish.... haha ;)

  9. Oooh that was a lot of fun! I wish I knew some of these before I went to Munich last fall. Thanks for the class, Professor! Haha

  10. Oh lord..skank-o-licious! These are a riot, language barriers are just too much and how you managed to keep a straight face with your exhibitionist is beyond me!

  11. AH! So many :)
    @Yenta - well glad I could spruce up your day with some German!
    @THW - you're right, not that I think of it, it does always sound like Donder. And gross, I hate the word pimples and I hate the word pickle for pimples, haha
    @Jo - Really cool! We are down south too, but in Baden Wurttemberg. Isn't it amazing how quickly kids can pick it up?!? Thanks for stopping by!
    @b. lee - well thanks. And how I about I join you for one of those right about now!
    @Elizabeth - anytime :) Thanks for stopping by!
    @CMD - haha, nice. I can't even imagine learning Finish. It looks so difficult.
    @Riley - Really, as you know, all you need to know is "noch ein Bier, bitte", lol
    @Mallori - glad I could make ya giggle
    @Morgan - you have the right to use that word whenever you deem necessary. Good ol' language barriers, always good for a blush or two.

  12. YAY- I know some German! How fun!

    Those trick words crack me up. This post makes me want to visit there so badly!

  13. Swedish has a lot of words from German language but i agree that they have som strange sentences:))

  14. @Shalyn - we'd have fun together, I just know. Come for a visit anytime :)
    @Mrs K - I have heard and noticed that. When we ever hear Swedish, I can kind of understand a few words, or at least similar sounding words, here and there. But yeah, the sentence structure is a bia! lol

  15. Lindsey,

    Thank you for all of your comments on my posts throughout the past week! Here are some replies to your comments:

    from 30 Days of Truth day 11: You are not a creepster. And thank you for the compliment on both my hair and smile :)

    from 30 Days of Truth day 13: thank you! it took me a while to figure out what I would say to a famous person if I really were to write them a letter about their music. :)

    I look forward to your posts every day. You really do write how I think, and I'm glad I found you through Travel Babbles :) :) :)

  16. Well isn't that just the nicest comment, like pretty much, ever :) I am really glad that we 'found' each other in bloggyland too! Hope you are having a good Friday and a great weekend!

  17. I mean, I kinda was here the whole time. I saw everybody's comments because I moderate them, but I didn't have the time to read posts and comment back. I checked it but didn't invest too much into blog world this week, and I missed it.

    I LOVE being a referee. It's a lot of fun!

  18. Oh wow. I do learn a lot of things from your blog. Ich Liebe Dich! See, I know German. Teehee!


  19. I really enjoy reading your blog! These are really funny and random. I always feel goofy saying german words for some reason, maybe because I am never sure of the pronunciation :)
    Keep it up!

  20. After 2 years of HS German we still got a lot of mileage from the phrase "Du Kanst Mein Ash Lechen". Years later on business I discovered I actually could speak passably, and it got better with heavy drinking.

  21. Girl, your too funny!! I busted out laughing at "some men will be bald bald enough"!! We have the same humor:)
    Happy weekend

    I had no idea that is what Doppelgänger actually meant...I always thought it had something to do with drinking...lol!

  22. haha English and german were practically the same..they originate from the same language..the Germanic language.The ancient Germanic,which is the root of all modern languages including French,Italian,Spanish and even Indian languages.Gasp!yes,I learnt that last year in college and I did gasp!
    Really enjoyed this :)I want to enroll in a German course,some of my friends are doing that already.I love learning new languages.

  23. My favorite German word is shiza. What can I say? I like the naughty ones.

    How's your German coming along? Kimberly and Terese were saying that you were taking classes?

  24. @ Meri - maybe I'll do a pronunciation lesson. There are some weird ones, but unlike English, they actually have rules :) Thanks for the sweet compliment, girl, you have to know I always enjoying reading yours too!
    @Rusk - haha, that is too funny, because literally the FIRST thing I learned was "Lech mich am Arsh"!
    @Brownbugz - wow, great German, girl! Ich liebe dich auch.
    @Sherri - what, you mean sick an twisted, alright! haha, glad I could entertain you for a bit ;)
    @Sweta - thanks for the lesson! They are very similar, which is so helpful at times. You should try German out, why not?!
    @HW - well, about as fluent as I will be. It gets better every year, but I always wish it was better. Those intensive classes I took the first year over were a LIFE SAVER!

  25. reeeally amazing post. just one thing: Fernsprecherteilnehmerverzeichnis ??? I have never heard of this word before, where did u come across it? the German word for phone book IS simply "Telefonbuch" (phone and book) or "the yellow pages" (bc the book is yellow). However,... i can't remember the last time i used the phone book, do u?? ;)

    i love linguistic postings like this (I am German and I did a B.A. in German (literature). You did a really great job!

  26. @ Franzi - I really never have used that long word, just came across several people referencing it online. I have always heard "Gelbeseiten" But like you said, who uses these things anymore?!?
    My personal favorite (that I know is used) is eierlegendwollmilchsau, haha. Thanks for the compliment, coming from someone who REALLY know German, that means a lot :)

  27. I just found your blog. I am German, living here in Tennessee now for 30 years. I speak a lot of German to my kids and my German friends over here and make my annual pilgimage to Marktbreit am Main in Lower Franconia. I am actually from Würzburg. I love your take on the language! On thing I wanted to point out is that it is actually Spiel, not Speil, for games. I don't mean to be a smart ass, just wanting to help out. I look forward to more of your stories! Helga

  28. @ Matthew - hey! Thanks for stopping by. That is great that you speak German to your kids, so great for them to learn at an early age. And THANK YOU for pointing that out to me. I saw the mistake right after I posted, but I guess never got around to correcting. I don't think you are being a smartass, don't worry :) Really glad you commented!

  29. hahaha!! YOu crack me up!! I will NEVER ask a German for a hanmburger w/pickles...never!

  30. Funny and interesting!! Thanks.

  31. Wow, that was really interesting! I'll have to remember that about the reindeer for random trivia at Christmas parties. :)

    What a great blog hop. Thanks again for inviting me!

  32. There's lots of words in German...even full sentences that are very similar to english. Eg. "Das ist gut" or "Mein Name ist..."

    The hard part is properly using the 4 cases and those horrible adjective endings, haha.

  33. That's fantastic! I once asked a friend to teach me the longest German word he knew - that stumped him because of all those composite words. He came up with something that meant 'unemployment benefits' but feels like it's 7 sentences too long ...

  34. I did not realize I knew so many German words :)
    Great entertaining post and I bet that wasn't ackward at all explaining what an exhibitionist really meant.

  35. Fernsprecherteilnehmerverzeichnis?? Really?
    Never heard of that word before. I'm sure I'd get a laugh or two if I asked some of my friends: 'Kannst du mir mal bitte das Fernsprecherteilnehmerverzeichnis geben?' I'm not sure they'd even know what that is^^

    oh...and I came across another word, because my dad asked me about it once: how about "iceberg"?
    German: Eisberg
    Berg = mountain
    That's one of those words that always got me when I still had English at school. I always wanted to say "ice mountain"^^

  36. Just found this post of yours :) Funny! I actuall think it's funny when people here use some German without knowing it's German.... I'm surprised about how many you found!!! One quick thing without trying to sound like a wiseass: "skiing" in German is "skifahren" (i.e., ski-driving). "Schuss" when referring to skiing is when you go down in your knees and head straight down the mountain :)


Whoomp, there it is!