Tuesday, January 31, 2012


It is so cold!! It has been below freezing the last week here in Berlin. I bought myself some extra Lange Elles. That has really made a difference. But it is still Schweinekalt!

To express how super cold it is you can at schweine- to kalt. It is translated as F-ing cold, but I don't think it is as offensive as F-ing cold is in English. I don't think I would use it at work or with elders, just to be on the safe side.

das Schwein - pig

kalt - cold

I have also heard schweine- added to teuer, when something is super expensive.

teuer - expensive

Das Kleid ist Schweineteuer! The dress is freaking expensive!

Thursday, January 26, 2012


I was waiting for my dinner and it was smelling delicious and it was making my mouth water.

Then from out of nowhere a phrase in German poped into my head. I had learned this back in Regensburg in 2002 at a Stammtisch (a gathering at a bar to practice German and English) at the Goldene Ente.  I had consciencely forgotten about it, but here I was in Berlin 10 years later and the phrase just resurfaces. Our brains are amazing.

Anyway to say "my mouth is watering" in German you say,

Das Wasser läuft mir im Mund zusammen.  The water run together in my mouth.

I had thought this was so funny! I still do! haahaha

Wednesday, January 25, 2012


I am always on the go here in Berlin. I have a part time Job that often has me walking through the city. I am often unterwegs.

unterwegs -  en route, in transit, on one's way

I have always like this word. I find it fun to use. There are a few ways to use it.

To indicate you are on your way some where.

       Bist du unterwegs?  Are you on the way?   Ich bin unterwegs.  I am on the way.

unterwegs nach (Location) sein - to be bound for, to be headed towards 

geschäftlich unterwegs sein - to be away on business

Or to indicate, on the go.

für unterwegs!  for on the go!

Monday, January 23, 2012

Ich + Ich

Oh my goodness!! I have to start of this post a little out of order. I was just looking up Adel Tawil, he is part Ich + Ich, the topic of this weeks Media Monday post, and I discovered that back in the 90's he was a member of a German boy band, called The Boyz

Here is their best single, One Minute. Just take a minute to enjoy this Gem!

Wow that was awesome! I love the puffy sport coats and long sweeping arm movements and of course the lyrics. The fact that they rhymed 'Lady' and 'Crack Baby' is what really won me over.
                                                                   .          .          .

So back to Adel, who I am pretty sure was the one wearing the orange ball cap in the video.

Adel was born in former East Berlin to an Egyptian father and a Tunisian Mother. He was part of a trio that competed in a talent contest in 1996 and shortly after with the addition of two members, the Boy Band, The Boyz was formed. The band lasted only three years.

There is a break in his career or at least, nothing is noted in his career until 2004 when he stepped back onto the music scene with Annette Humpe.

Annette is well known from her days in the German pop group Ideal, which was part of the Neue Deutsche Welle, German New Wave movement in the early 1980's.  The group was more of a project and dissolved after a few years. Since then Annette has worked as a successful German Songwriter, writing songs for some big German acts, such as Nena (of 99 Luftballons fam). 

Here is a live performance from Annette with her band Ideal from 1981.

Adel and Annette joined forces in 2004 to form the Duo, Ich + Ich, (Ich und Ich).

Ich + Ich Webpage

I find the duo a little odd, mostly because it is always considered and referred to as a Duo, but you never really notice Annette. Adel is the main singer and front man and he performs alone on stage without Annette. Apparently Annette has developed sever stage fright over the years. Though you may not notice her, she still plays a big roll behind the scenes. And she does show up in  most of their music videos.
I really like their music, it is catchy and clear and easy to understand. I wish I had had them to listen to when I was first learning German.

Here is the only video I could find, but check out their webpage and you can watch their music videos there.

Saturday, January 21, 2012

Rude English: Itzehoe

So if you are ever in Northern Germany, you will at some point hear of the town, Itzehoe. It is one of the larger and more well known towns.

Please take a moment and pronounce this town's name out loud. ITZEHOE. If it sounded something like or actually, if it sounds exactly like "It's a Ho" then you pronounced it correctly!! Yeah you can now pat yourself on the back and laugh your butt off.

My Freund, who has lived in the area most of his life, didn't realize how funny the city sounded until I was reading it on the map one day and then started to laugh. I was sure I had pronounced it wrong, but he assured me that I had pronounced it correctly! Though it didn't click right so I spelled it out for him. Then he too had a great laugh.

If that wasn't funny enough for you though, check out this Insurance company. Itzehoer Versicherungen. This one is even better.

Try and pronounce this. Just add an 'r' to Itzehoe.  Did you get it? Yes, if you pronounced it like "It's a whore" then you were correct yet again.

And last but not least, the main street that we drove down on our way through Itzehoe. Langer Peter. I will just leave you with that. to make your own conclusions.


There is a town up here that is quite famous in the Heavy Metal scene. Wacken! Have you heard of it? Every year this little Dorf, village, hosts a huge Open Air Heavy Metal Festival, The W:O:A.

It is quite interesting how the town deals with this yearly festival. Some people plan to go away during the festivities and others stay and prep for the onslaught of heavy metal fans. I watched a mini tv report about just this a little while back. It is a great opportunity for the town to make money. The stores stock up on essentials; food, camping supplies, water, beer and alcohol. One Store owner was interviewed and she said that she also stocks up on things like socks and underwear and every year she is sold out before the festival is through. 

The town also takes care to remove all their street signs. In the early years they were always being pulled up and stolen. So in order to protect their signs from theft, every year they remove them themselves before the party goers get there. Here is a fake sign that you can buy.

I found a good Blog post discussing all the practicalities of going to the Wachen Open Air Festival. The author has been there before quite a few times. He goes over all the angles including costs, what to bring, where to stay, how to get there and much more.

There is also some cool art associated with the festival. Jens Rusch and Tim Eckhorst capture scenes from the festival on canvas. There was a article in the local Dithmarscher Landeszeitung, there is going to be a local art exhibit in February with both artists work. You can see more images here.

Thursday, January 19, 2012


So as I mentioned before in the Ina Müller post, here in Northern Germany, a second language is still in use. Plattdeutsch or in English, Lower German.

Apparently it is derived from the earliest form of Old Saxon. Which Old English was also derived from and so it has a connection with English. And if I understand what I read correctly, it is more closely related to English then English is to German.

Here are a few differences and similarities that one can see between Plattdeutsch, English and German. Here Plattdeutsch and English though different have the same, for lack of a better word 'softer', pronunciation where the German words are still similar, but have a difference more 'sharp' pronunciation.

Plattdeutsch         English          German
    peper              pepper            pfeffer

    maken              make            machen

    schipp               ship               schiff

The 'low' in Low German comes from the low lying lands and coastal lands of northern Germany, where the language originates and is mostly spoken. This is in comparison to the more mountainous central and southern regions of Germany where High German, Hoch Deutsch, is traditionally spoken.

platt - flat, even, level, plain

hoch - elevated, grand, high, important (as in high ranking)

nieder -base, down, low

Here is a map showing the Plattdeutsch region in light pink which extends into The Netherlands (Note: Plattdeutsch it is also called Niederdeutsch in German, but those that actually speak the language call it Plattdeutsch). The Hoch Deutsch region is colored in dark pink. (source)

Plattdeutsch is considered a regional language by Germany as well as by the Netherlands, where it is also spoken. I have a few dutch friends and they seem to be able to understand Plattdeutsch as well native Germans. Though to me Dutch seems to have a very similar range of pronunciation as Plattdeutsch where as German seems to be still a little harder and rougher sounding.

Here is a plattdeutsch song that I learned last year. You can hear the similarities to English and German. I find that the pronunciation sounds similar to how we pronounce English, but the words and structure of the sentences are more similar to German words and sentence structure.

Though Plattdeutsch originated here in Northern Europe it is spoken in communities all over the world. For example the Mennonite communities in the United States and Canada speak Plattdeutsch. It of course has changed a little over the years from what is spoken here in Northern Germany, however it is still technically the same language. Think of this difference as the same kind of difference that US American English has with Australian and British English.

Here is the Intro to PlautCast.com. You can see a few of the Plattdeutsch communities around the world. The webpage PlautCast doesn't seem to be up to date, but their videos are on YouTube. Here is a nice online Plattdeutsch resource and an online Plattdeutsch dictionary.

And one last video, from a fun German Twitter-er, Muserine, a Christmas story op Platt, auf Platt. De Wihnachtsmann. Just to give you another taste of Plattdeutsch.

Wednesday, January 18, 2012

Klinken Putzen & Rathausplatz Fegen

Germany seems to be full of wacky traditions, that more often then not seem to have been developed for the sole purpose of embarrassing the person being put through it. I was subjected to one such wacky tradition this week.

I turned 30 years old this week! Ah!! It is one of those milestone birthdays, I am no longer a 20 something. Oh man!!

Well back to the tradition. I am not sure if this tradition extends all over Germany, it for sure is here in the north. When you turn 30 and you are not yet married, you have to go to the Rathaus, the Town Hall, and clean. Girls have to clean the Rathaus' door handles, Klinken putzen and guys have to sweep the sidewalk or the square in front of the Rathaus, Rathausplatz fegen.

I was let off the hook, a little. We didn't go down to the Rathaus, Thank Gawd!, but an old door was brought out covered in door handles. Each one had something smeared over it; toothpaste, honey, shoe shine, tomato paste and more. They didn't make it easy for me because they made me clean them off with Q-tips!!

die Klinke - bolt, handle, latch 

putzen - to clean

fegen - to sweep

There was a free pass available to get me out of doing my duties. I needed to get a kiss from a virgin. There were only two virgins around, an 7 year old and a 3 year old and neither of them were willing to help me out. Though that was fine with me because if I cleaned them all the last one had a bottle of Prosecco tied to it.

Yeah Prosecco!

Tuesday, January 17, 2012

Oma ist Uralt!

This is special Birthday week here in Northern German. My Freund's Grandma, Oma, turned 80 years old this week she is uralt, really old. There was a huge party for her at a local restaurant, half the village showed up.  Happy Birthday Oma!

My Freund has a few nephews and so his Grandmother is their Uroma, Great Grandmother. Since there are so many Omas around, each has a specific name. For example there is Oma Linden, Oma Hennstedt, and Oma Tic Tac. The first two are called after the village they live in and the third name is what the kids call their Great Grandmother.

How she got this name I find super cute. The prefix Ur- is pronounced exactly like Uhr, clock. The kids don't understand the difference yet and so she is the Uhr Oma, the Clock Oma. In Germany, the clocks make the sound "Tic Tac" and not "Tic Toc" like in the USA. So the kids ended up calling her Oma Tic Tac.

Oma - Grandmother 
Opa - Grandfather

Uroma - Great Grandmother
Uropa - Great Grandfather

Ur- - ancestral, primal

die Uhr - Clock

As I mentioned above, now that the Uroma is 80 years old, she is very old. Which you can says either, sehr alt or uralt. I think, uralt, sounds way cooler and may impress people if you are learning German and throw it into your conversation.

Uralt - aged, ancient, very old

Monday, January 16, 2012

Ina Müller

One of the Norths best known entertainers is Ina Müller.

Ina Müller
Ina grew up on a farm in Köhlen, in northern Niedersachsen, the fourth of five sisters. Here she learned and spoke Plattdeutsch, a local language still in use, which I plan to write a post about sometime this week. Plattdeutsch has a prominate position in her life and career, since she has songs and theater shows in Plattdeutsch, op Platt, as well as in German.

I first became aware of Ina watching reruns of Ina's Norden on NDR, Nord Deutscher Rundfunk, Northern German Broadcasting. Ina's Norden highlighted northern German life and culture. She visited local shops and museums. She has a very fun and playful personality, if not maybe a little naughty at times. 

She first started her career as half of a cabaret duo, Queen Bee, the two sang and told jokes. She continued on a solo career and moderated a series of NDR shows; Land und Liebe, Stadt, Land, Ina!, Ina's Norden and now she currently has Ina's Nacht.

Here is a segment from Ina's Norden. It is all in German but hopefully you still get an idea of what the show has to offer, and a bit of Ina's playful character.

Every Saturday night/ Sunday morning at 1:00am Ina's Nacht airs. It is a late night show that is hosted in a small bar, Zum Schellfischposten, in Hamburg-Altona. She has all kinds of guests that sit with her at the bar and have a drink or two. When ever she has musical guests she always sings with them. Sometimes even when they are not known for their singing. Out side the open windows, even in the cold winter weather, is a choir of guys that often break into song.  

Here is a clip from Ina's Nacht, she is singing Der Himmel Soll Warten with Sido.

Sunday, January 15, 2012

Huhn vs Hund

Check back in on the Ad: BVG Weihnachtszeit post, Jan left a comment explaining a play on words, that is cleverly used in the ad. I love learning these little tidbits! Thanks Jan!

                                       .       .       .

This week I will be in northern Germany, in Schleswig-Holstein. So I hope to have some travel and northern Germany related posts this week. But first I have a little story about how important pronunciation is in German. 

On the trip up here last night, in between trains, we ate a late dinner at a nice Asian serve yourself restaurant. Bok, at the Hamburg Altona station, super delicious, fast and in expensive. Anyway we were sharing a long table with one of the guys that worked there, who was having his dinner as well. 

I ended up not being as hungry as I had thought I was and was stuffed before I was even halfway through the meal. My Freund, said that I didn't need to eat it all, but I feel guilty about wasting food, especially when something lost it's life to be on my plate. So I said, "Das Huhn ist für mein Abendessen gestorben, Ich muss das auf essen." 'The Chicken died for my dinner, I must eat it all.'  Here is where pronunciation is very important.

Vowels with an 'h' directly following it are pronounced long. 'Huhn' is pronounced 'Hoon' like moon. I have a hard time pronouncing vowels and when I said 'Huhn.' I did not pronounce it correctly with a long vowel. I pronounced it short, like how you pronounce 'Hund.' And that is exactly what my Freund thought I had said.

Here we are in an Asian restaurant and he thought I said, "Das Hund ist für mein Abendessen gestorben." 'The dog died for my dinner.' whoops! Not the best moment to make this mistake. Especially with the guy sitting there at the other end of the table. Though I have had a good laugh every time we've shared the story.

das Huhn - chicken (the animal), hen

der Hund - dog

Friday, January 13, 2012

Schluss damit!

Schluss is a fun word I learned a while back. It has a variety of meanings and uses in the German language.

der Schluss - close, closure, end, ending, finish

schluss - concluding, final

Schluss machen - to bring to an end, to finish, to break up (as in a relationship)

Ten thing not to do when you want to break up with your girlfriend. Number 9 and 10 are my favorites.

bis zum Schluss - until the end

Schluss damit - knock it off. A very common phrase to hear a mom shouting at her kid.

Thursday, January 12, 2012


I noticed this ad the other day, not really for the ad itself, but the word Schicksal.

Two assassins, One destiny

das Schicksal - destiny, fortune

I first learned this word back in 2002 when I was in Germany for an study abroad program. At the time the German MTV was airing the anime series, The Vision of Escaflowne. It was dubbed in German and I really didn't understand so much. But that didn't matter, I'm a sucker for anime.

Here is the final scene from the series, auf Deutsch, they speak slowly and clearly. If your interested.

Since then I have heard the word Schicksal, but interestingly it has only been in other anime series or Sci-fi and fantasy novels and movies. It is one of those words that you may not actually use in a real life setting, but you still will hear it in movies or read it in books.

Wednesday, January 11, 2012


I have been so busy with my part time job. So busy in fact, I have been working full time hours this last week!!  I haven't been able to get a post in because I get home so late!


Aber Heute habe ich frei! But, today I am off. Woohoo!!

freihaben - to have off

When I finished my shift, my co-worker wished me "Schön Feierabend" Which mean, 'have a nice evening off.' The word Feierabend is also often used to ask when you are off work. Wann hast du Feierabend?

der Feierabend - closing time, leisure time, quitting time
Note: I find this to be a weird translation. I always thought of this word as meaning something more like 'Party Evening', since it has the word feier in it. You are now finished working and can have a party. 

die Feier - celebration, party, bash

Feierabend refers to the time you have free after work. The translation of 'Closing time', imply a specific time, like 8pm. Closing time is not 8pm till midnight, it is just at 8pm. Whereas Feierabend doesn't have a specific time, it imply the range of time. That is at least how I see it.

When you ask someone 'Wann hast du frei?,' 'When are you off?', you will get the same answer as when you ask then 'Wann hast du Feierabend?'  "8pm"  The difference is subtle, Wann hast du frei is only concerned with the actual moment you are finished with work and the other asks when you start you evening off.  

Thursday, January 5, 2012

Fleißig vs. Fleischig

So I have a funny little story to tell you.

When I was working as a Temp, this last year, everyone knew I wasn't German and a few were really good about helping me when I didn't know quite how to say something. It was cool I learned a lot of useful terms from working there.

I was a good little worker and kept busy. I often helped out others when I was done with my daily tasks. Well, one day, one of the ladies working there caught me loading the dishwasher and exclaimed something like, "Na, bist du aber fleißig", 'Well, aren't you a hard worker.' The thing is, is that at this time, I didn't know the word fleißig and to me it sounded like she said,  "Na, bist du aber fleischig" 'Well aren't you meaty'. For a split second I was like 'WHAT!' because I am over weight and I though she was commenting about that, but then I realize that she was commenting about something related to filling the dishwasher and not my constitution.

After she explained the meaning of the word and I told her about my misunderstanding, we ended up having a good laugh about it. It still makes me laugh now. I will never forget the word fleißig or how I learned it.

fleißig - hardworking

fleischig - beefy, meaty

das Fleisch - meat, flesh

Wednesday, January 4, 2012

Ad: Spenden für Obdachlose

This Ad caught my eye the other night.

"Würden Sie hier gerne übernachten?" Would you like to spend the night here?

Spenden Sie Wärme, Donate warmth

Kältebus und Notübernachtungen retten Menschenleben, Coldbus (?) and Emergency Shelters saves peoples lives.

Kältehilfe der Berliner Stadtmission für Obdachlose, Help for the Cold(weather), the Berlin City Mission for the Homeless

die Spende - donation, offering

spenden -  to donate

obdachlos - homeless

der Obdachlose (ein Obdachloser) - homeless person (a homeless person)

Tuesday, January 3, 2012


I got out of sync with the blog due to the holidays and a new job. So today I will throw in a Media Monday post on a Tuesday. Hope you can deal with that.

Sido's Webpage

This is Sido, a Berliner Rapper and now actor. He has been in the music business since 1997. Though he didn't get much recognition until 2002 after he had signed to a new label "Aggro Berlin." I didn't notice him until about 2008, when he released Ich und meine Maske, Me and my Maske. He is known for the skull mask, he wore during this time. In fact in the early days he didn't take it off, to stay incognito or to just keep an air of intrigue, I am not sure, but these days he goes without it.

Here is Mein Block, the first song from Sido that I heard and I loved it right away!!

I really like his music, well I like about 2/3rds of his music. He has some really harsh songs, and some off humor song, what I would expect a bunch of young guys might like. Then the other half of his music is still a little ruff, but has a message or a good story to it. He is kind of like a German version of Eminem.

He is a true Berliner, he was born in the East, the former Russian controlled side and moved to the West in 1988 a year before the Wall fell. He grew up in a ruff neighborhood, mostly populated by fellow asylum seekers. This had a big influence on his earlier music. Today his music can have a more relaxed feel to it. I think of it as, before, his music was very much in the moment and now in his music he is able to reflect on the past and dream of the future.

Der Tanz, the dance, feat. KIZ, a fun song. I like their line dance.

Sido also has a budding acting career. He has a new movie, Blutzbrüdaz, that was released just before Christmas. If you go to his webpage, you can see the video for his new single, Geboren um Frei zu Sein, Born to be Free, which features scenes from the movie.

Sido keeps me interested. He has changed and developed over the past few years and I really look forward to seeing what he does next.

Sunday, January 1, 2012


Firecrackers, Firecrackers, Everywhere!!

der Böller - firecracker

das Feuerwerk - fireworks (the explosion that we see in the air)
der Feuerwerkskörper - fireworks (the actual fireworks in your hand that you light)

On New Years Eve, the people here go crazy for fireworks. Fireworks are illegal in Germany except for New Years Eve. They start to go on sale two or three days before New Years and people start to fire them off randomly during this period.

It is quite nerve racking. Firecrackers are the most popular kind of firework. During the days leading up to New Years Eve, people will throw them willy-nilly and sometime (generally groups of guy) will through them towards people. Not cool guy, really not cool!

Then on New Years people will be throwing them all day long. In the streets, in the garbage cans, on the subway tracks (which is extra loud because it is a confined space). Further out from the touristy center of Berlin, in the more residential areas, people will through them from their windows out onto the street. Even while cars are driving by. It is madness!!

I had to work New Years Eve and was making my way home around 11pm. It was freaking me out. I hugged the side of the buildings because the people up above didn't always throw the fire crackers far enough and they would land on the sidewalk. I felt like I was in a war reenactment! But then soon I was safe at home. Where my boyfriend had set up for shooting of some big fireworks of our own!

The next morning aftermath!