Wednesday, November 30, 2011


The Bonobos Monkeys in the Berlin Zoo have been sent to their rooms! The Zoo is concerned the monkey will catch a cold and so has confined them to their room.

der Stubenarrest - confined to one's room

die Stube - living room, sitting room, parlor
I haven't hear this word used to mean a living room. I have heard it used to refer to a small pub or corner bar.

die Grippe - flu, influenza

Schnupfen was addressed in a previous post.

Gute Besserung Affen!!

Link to BZ Article

Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Ad: Easyjet

I took these pictures back in the Summer and just rediscovered them and had to share!

It is an advertisement for cheep Summer flights, Sommerflüge. Pictured is one of those swimming armbands for kids to wear when they are in the water.

When I looked at this the first time it made me think of floating in water. I am not sure about you, but I don't want to think about floating in water and a plane flight at the same time! Hello, Water landing!! Ok this doesn't seem right. The visual was concerning, but what really sold me was the fine print.
Fine Print: *One-Way

What!! One-way!! hahahaa that is not a good sign. Cheep flights, water floatation devices and One-way Ticket prices! FAIL!! Right? Well at least to me, a native English speaker.

This was so funny. How could the Ad company release such a odd ad? Well, after some investigation I have found out that it is actually a play on words.

The Swimming armbands (Swimmies) pictured are actually called Schwimmflügel, swimming wings. Sommerflüge, Schwimmflügel, . . .

Did you just have the same 'Ah -ha' moment I had?

Ok, So the ad is not as bad as I first thought it to be. It makes sense to the German Audience it was targetting. However it is not as funny anymore. Bummer, but at least I am sure I wont forget the German word for Swimmies.

Isn't it interesting how such a seemingly simple advertisement can have such different reactions to a German and a non-German?

Monday, November 28, 2011

The Kelly Family

 This week's Media Monday post is a little different. The Kelly Family band is not German! Here is an old Image of the Kelly Family, probably from the late '80s early 90's. Think, the Waltons meet the Partridge family.

German Fanpage
The Kelly Family is a family band that is originally from the USA, and in the mid sixties they started touring through Europe. They were known for their Double Decker Tour bus and a Gypsy bohemian style. I am assuming you see the similarity with  the Partridge Family. They received a recording contract in Germany and and were a big success in Europe. Their most popular song seems to be 'An Angle'. It is the song that is always played when ever they are referenced on the TV.

The Family seems to have moved often. The first four children were born in the USA, the next five kids were born in Spain, then the last three were born in Ireland, then Germany and then the last was back in Spain.

I had never heard of them until I moved to Berlin. Most of my friends were surprised I didn't know them- The Kelly family had been such a big hit. Even my Polish friends know of the Kelly family and are equally surprised I hadn't heard of them before.

The family is no longer an active band, after over thirty years it came to an end in 2008. Despite that they are still from time to time on German talk shows, variety and Late Night television. Like how Donny and Marie Osmond, pop up on Dancing with the Stars and Morning talk shows. The Kelly Family are very much apart of German music history and pop culture.

Joey Kelly
A few of the Kelly Children have continued with solo carriers after the end of the Family band. Paddy Kelly, Angelo Kelly and Jimmy Kelly have solo tours planned to run mostly in Germany in 2012. Maite Kelly, the only one of the children born in Germany, has an current Album out, that is mostly in German. I saw Kathy Kelly once, on the German reality Tv show, Das Supertalent. The last to mention is Joey Kelly. He is a very active guy, and has run a few long distance runs and is often on a Late night Tv Show TV Total with Stefan Raab. He has been the Kelly Family member that I have seen the most of. So much so that recognize right away like any other famous person.

Thursday, November 24, 2011

Happy Thanksgiving!!

Today is the last Thursday of November and in the USA it is Thanksgiving!! There is actually a translation for it in German,  das Erntedankfest. I heard this only once, when I asked someone specifically for the German name for it. Though most people I have talked with just say 'Thanksgiving.' That may just be a reflection of the international crowd I run in.

This Holiday is known for the huge Turkey dinner, but we are also suppose to reflect on what we are thankful for.

dankbar - thankful

dankbar sein - to be thankful

What are you thankful for?

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Truthahn and Kartoffelpüree

Thanksgiving came early this year, here in Berlin. Since no one gets Thursday off, we have Thanksgiving on the weekend. This year though it was the weekend before.

Of course we had Turkey!

der Truthahn (die Truthähne) - Turkey

We also had mashed potatoes and Stuffing and a few other dishes. Though mashed potatoes was the only dish that is also common in Germany.

Mashed Potatoes:
der Kartoffelbrei
das Kartoffelmuss
das Kartoffelpüree

I have heard all of these words being used for mashed potatoes, however Kartoffelpüree is the most frequently used. (at least here in Berlin)

Tuesday, November 22, 2011


I have been sick. Yuck!

In school I learned to say, "Ich bin Krank", when I wanted to tell someone I have a cold, but most people actually say, "Ich bin erkältet!"

erkältet sein- to have a cold

I am much better, and now I just have the snuffles.

der Schnupfen - the snuffles

schnupfen - to snuffle

Saturday, November 19, 2011

Aurora borealis & Aurora australis

Last but not least, the most famous event that the poles are known for, their special Lights.  The phenomenon that creates the Northern Lights in the Arctic, also takes place in the south pole as well. There it is called the Aurora australis. In German, both are referred to as, das Polarlicht - The Polar Light.

Aurora borealis, the Northern Lights
das Nordlicht

Aurora australis, the southern lights
das Südlicht 

Friday, November 18, 2011

Eisbrecher, Schneemobil, Schneeräumer

The Eskimos developed the original methods of winter transportation, here are some modern forms of modern winter transportation.

der Eisbrecher - Ice breaker


der Motorschlitten
das Schneemobil

Snow Plow:

der Schneepflug
der schneeräumer

Thursday, November 17, 2011


der Eskimo - the Inuit Indians aka. Eskimos

The people of the Arctic, the Inuit Indians, also known as Eskimos, der Eskimo. Have adapted to the challenges of living in the Arctic with very unique skills and techniques. They build their homes out of snow. They use dogs and sleds and snowshoes and kayaks to get around.


der (or das) Iglu
die Schneehütte

der Hundeschlitten - dog sled

Hundeschlittenfahren - dog sledding, mushing

der Schlittenhund - sled dog

der Schneeschuh - snowshoe

der (or das) Kajak - kayak
Kajak fahren - to kayak

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Eisbär, Pinguin, Seehund

Who lives in die Polarkreise? Here are a few of the better known animals.

der Eisbär - polar bear

der Eisfuchs- arctic fox

der Pinguin - penguin

der Kaiserpinguin  - Empiror Penguin
der Königspinguin  - King Penguin



die Robbe
der Seehund

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Nordpol und Südpol

Since yesterday's post was about Polarkreis 18, how about we go over some polar related vocab?

So, we all know there is a North Pole and a South Pole.

der Nordpol
der Südpol

Which are also known as the Arctic and the Antarctic.

die Arktis
die Antarktis

The word Polarkreis refers a the Polar circle, there are two and in English we always distinguish between the two, the Arctic Circle or the Antarctic Circle.  

der Arktische Kreis


der Antarktische Kreis



Monday, November 14, 2011

Polarkreis 18

Polarkreis 18 is a band originally out of Dresden. The members originally formed a band out of High School called Jack of all Trades in 1998, but renamed the band in 2005 to Polarkreis 18, meaning Polar Circle 18. (There is probably a story behind their name, I just haven't heard it.)

The band has an alternative electronic pop sound, it has also been described as 'synthpop and indietronic.' I have never heard of such descriptions before to describe a band's sound, that said, these words describe the sound of the band very well.

The band has a good amount of English in their songs. In fact, I would say most of their songs are predominately English with German mixed in. It is an easy listen for those native English speaker who may or may not be learning German. Take a listen to the samples from their newest Album, 'Frei,' on their webpage.

Polarkreis 18 had a Number One hit on the German Music Charts toward the send of 2008. Their song 'Allein Allein' from their album 'The Color of Snow' held the Number One position for a little over a month, 31 October to December 4th.

Here is the Music Video, for Allein Allein. Enjoy!


Sunday, November 13, 2011

Bonus Post: Berlin Dynamic Video

Enjoy this Video of Berlin!

Berlin Dynamic from Matthias Makarinus on Vimeo.

Günter Grass

This is Günter Grass, who I mentioned in a previous post with Erich Maria Remarque. These authors both have greatly influenced the German popular culture with their work.

In Gdansk on a rainy day.

Günter Grass was born October 16th 1927, in The Free City of Danzig, die Freie Stadt Danzig, a semi-autonomous city-state that has German roots. It existed between 1920 and 1939 and was taken over by the Nazis when they invaded Poland.

Today it is called Gdansk and is a part of Poland. I have had the pleasure of visiting, it is a beautiful City and are known for their Amber.

In 1943 at the age of 15-16 he was employed as a Student Soldier, then drafted into the labor service and at 17 he was sent to join the SS. He was active from February to April of 1945, at which time he was wounded and sent to a American POW Camp.

Later in his life, his time with the Nazis SS soldiers would cause a bit of a stir. Long story short, people found out of his time in the SS and were upset that he had never disclosed this information. Apparently though, it had never been a secret, just not talked about that much. His writings are very moralistic and condemning of others and their choices. People were just taken a back that someone who promoted and proclaimed high morals would be associated with the SS. He was seen as hypocritical.

Well despite all the drama, he sold a bunch of books during all the hoopla! For me, and for most of those who haven't grown up with him, the revelation of him being an SS soldier, for two months, at 17 years old. Is not that damning. Though It seems to have really bothered those older then forty and who grew up reading his work.

Günter Grass is a very artistic person. He sketches and sculpts as well as writes. His best known work is The Tin Drum, Die Blechtrommel (1959). It is the first of three works from The Danzig Trilogy. Along with Cat and Mouse (Katz und Maus) and Dog Years (Hundejahre). The three works deal with the unique City of Danzig and the experience of its people during the rise of the Nazis and the war.

The Tin Drum was made into a movie in 1979 by Volker Schlöndorff. The movie recieved the Palme d'Or at the Cannes Film Festival and the Academy Award for Best Foreign Language Film, that same year.

In 1999, he received the Nobel Prize for Literature, and is commonly considered a part of the German  'Vergangenheitsbewältigung' movement which is about Germany 'coming to terms with their past.'

In Lübeck, a foundation and forum for Literature and Fine Arts has been names in his honor, as the Günter Grass House. He has lived in a number of cities over the year. He now lives in Lübeck, in Schleswig-Holstein and is still actively writing.

Saturday, November 12, 2011

Drei Chinesen mit dem Kontrobass

Do you need practice pronouncing German vowels? expecially ö,ü or ä? I sure still do.

Have you ever tried this song, Drei Chinesen mit dem Kontrobass? This is a popular kids song that has no real point other then to practice pronunciation! The main lines are repeated but each time a different vowel sound is used.

The base lyrics go:
Drei Chinesen mit dem Kontrabass
saßen auf der Straße und erzählten sich was.
Da kam die Polizei, ei was ist denn das?
Drei Chinesen mit dem Kontrabass.
Three Chinese with a double bass
Sat on the street and chatted.
Along came the police: ‘Now what is this?‘
Three Chinese with a double bass
There can be up to eight different ways to sing the verse; A, E, I, O, U, Ä, Ö, Ü.
Here are the lyrics with an 'a' replacing all the vowels.
Dra Chanasan mat dam Kantrabass
saßan af dar Straßa and arzahltan sach was.
Da kam da Palaza, a, was ast dann das?
Dra Chanasan mat dam Kantrabass.
This is a song I learned on a road trip. It's juvenile, but it is fun to whip out every once in a while. I have the hardest time with O and Ö, U and Ü. It's bad.

Here is a video to give you a better idea of how it goes! Enjoy!

Friday, November 11, 2011


Today is 'St. Martin's Day' or 'The Feast of St. Martin.' Here in Germany it is Martinstag. It was celebrated originally only in the predominately Catholic Bundeslands, in the south and west, but it has since spread to the rest of Germany. This Holiday celebrates, St. Martin, a former Roman soldier who later became a monk. Legend goes he cut his cloak in two and gave half to a beggar in the middle of a snow storm. St. Martin dreamed that night, that Jesus was this beggar and that he speaks to the angels saying something like 'This is Martin, the roman soldier, he has clothed me.' Kind of boring, really. Sorry St. Martin.

It is kind of like a German Thanksgiving, it is celebrated at the end of the harvest season and traditionally people have a big feast on St. Martin's day to celebrate the earths bounty, kind of like our Thanksgiving meal. Though now a days it primarily celebrated by young kids. They make paper lanterns and light them with candles or with mini light bulbs.

Paper Lantern with mini light bulb

Then they go on a little walk singing songs. Some times a man dressed as St. Martin rides a horse along the walk with the kids and their lanterns. If they are so lucky!

The kids with their lanterns and the Horse without St. Martin.

I got to go yesterday with the three year old I babysit. We went with a group of grade school kids. Normally it is celebrated on November 11, but they did on the 10th, due to scheduling issues. Anyway, they got to have a horse go on the walk with the them, which is cool, but the horse arrived late and the dude wasn't dressed like St. Martin.

He was wearing a ball cap and matching coat!! He is expected to be in a White or Red coat or cloak, kind of like Santa Claus.

We just walked a large loop from the school into the park and back. There was warm punch for the kids and Gluhwein for the adults and sweet bread waiting back at the school when we got back. And a huge Bonfire to warm up around.Even though this is a store bought paper lantern with a mini light bulb, it is still quite cute.

Happy St. Martin's Day!

Thursday, November 10, 2011

Mütze, Tuch, Stulpen

Once you have your lange Elli on and maybe a Nierenschutz too. You may still want to wrap up with more then just a coat, der Mantel.

die Mütze - cap, beenie, or any knitted or floppy hat

der Schal
das Tuch

das Schultertuch - shawl

der Handschuh - gloves

die Handstulpen - Fingerless long armed gloves. I am not sure what we call these, I have only found them translated as 'cuffs.'

die Stulpen - legwarmers

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

Zieh dich warm an!

It is getting chilly out there! Man sollte warm anziehen!

warm anziehen - to dress warmly

lange Unterhose - long johns
Note: these are sometimes called lange Elle, don't ask me why.

die Strümpfe - Stockings

der Nierenschutz - Kidney proctor
Note: This is traditionally for bikers and old people. That said I know a few younger women who wear them in really cold weather. It is great to protect your midriff for example if your shirt or coat rides up or if your back end is not quite covered when you sit down.

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

Laubfall, Fächerbesen, Harken

It is and has been for a while now, Fall, der Herbst. The cool down season that leads into Christmas and snow and New Years! All the stores are selling coats and gloves and other winter weather wear. The leaves have changed colors and most have now fallen to the ground. In the City you don't see to many people raking up the leaves, but there are a few.

das Blatt (die Blätter) - leaf (leaves)

das Laub - foliage

der Laubfall - the fall of leaves

The rake pictured here to the right with the the short metal teeth is called:

der Rechen


die Harke

The rake to the left, that has more of a broom like style is called either:

der Fächerbesen 


der Rasenbesen

Note: the word der Besen, means, a broom.

to rake (the leaves):



Note: Fegen means to sweep and is generally used with Besen. It can be used to mean rake, but only when using the nouns Fächerbesen or Rasenbesen. for example: "Er fegt die Blätter mit dem Fächerbesen zusammen
These two nouns are not limited to the verb fegen and can be used with rechen or harken as well.

Monday, November 7, 2011

Herbert Grönemeyer

His Webpage

Herbert Grönemeyer is a German Singer- Songwriter who has been producing albums since 1979. He claims Bochum, Niedersachsen as his home town and one of his best selling albums is named 4630 Bochum (1984). He acted in Wolfgang Petersen's movie Das Boot, but ended up focusing on music instead of acting. His 20th album Mensch (2002) went to Platinum and the single "Mensch" was his first Number One Hit.

 He wrote the 2006 FIFA World Cup theme song "Celebrate the Day" (English Version)/ "Zeit, dass sich was dreht" (German Version).  This was the first time I heard of Herbert Grönemeyer. Since then I learned more about him and realized I had already heard his music on the Radio. He has played a mayor part in the German music scene over the last 30 years and is nationally recognized not only in Germany, but in Austria and Switzerland as well.

Since most of his music is blocked on YouTube, here is a short playlist of the songs I mentioned.

Sunday, November 6, 2011

Erich Maria Remarque

Erich Maria Remarque is one of the two German authors that I mentioned in yesterday's post. They both have quite a body of work that captures the German Experience in the 20th century.

Erich Maria Remarque was born in 1898 in Osnabrück, Niedersachsen, Germany (d. 1970) and ended up fighting in WWI as a German Soldier. It is from this experience that he wrote his best known novel All Quiet on the Western Front (Im Westen nichts Neues). Instead of depicting war as courageous, he described the dirty, treacherous and taxing daily live of the soldier in WWI. He depicted the ruthlessness that men would turn to during the war, just to survive.

It took a few years to find a publisher, but it was finally published in 1929. Not long after the publication of the novel, Remarque moved with his wife to Switzerland, in 1931 and then onto the United States in 1939.

The Nazis did not like Remarque and in 1933 they banned and public burned his works. Ten years later in 1943, the Nazis arrested, tried and put to death his sister, Elfriede Scholz, wife and mother of two, claiming she was guilty of 'undermining morale'. They could not get him so they got her instead. In 1947 he became a naturalized US Citizen, then a year later in 1948, he returned to Switzerland and remained until his death in 1970.

Some of his other works are Der Weg Zurück, The Road Back (1931), Drei Kameraden, Three Comrades (1936), Arc de Triomphe, Arch of Triumph (1945) and his last being Die Nacht von Lissabon, The Night in Lisbon (1962).

For more on his life, and work, check out this NYU webpage. It is very detailed and full of information. There is even Celebrity gossip, well kind of, because he had a relationship with Marlene Dietrich at some point.