Wednesday, February 29, 2012


Today is February 29th!!! That means it is a leap year!!


das Schaltjahr - leap year

der Schalttag - leap day (February 29th)

Do we say that? Leap day? I have never hear it.

schalten - to change. to shift (gears)

Friday, February 24, 2012


Here is a quick post today. I have to leave for work super early, uhg.

First off I wanted to point out that I added a new blog to the 'Blogs' listing on the right hand side. It is called WestBerlin and it has a lot of old archive photos of Berlin. It is just nice to scroll through them and see a bit of Berlin's past.

Your Daily Dose of Deutsch is Glücksbringer.

der Glücksbringer - Lucky Charm, talisman

Why this word? I don't know. I just heard it a while back and wrote it down to share. I kind of like how simple it is. 'Luck Bringer'

I need a Glücksbringer bad, then maybe I wouldn't have to be waking up so early!

Thursday, February 23, 2012

Gern geschehen!

Here is a new way to say "Your Welcome."

The standard response in German to 'Thanks,' Danke or Danke schön, is Bitte or Bitte schön.

But there is another option. Gern geschehen!

Which can be translated as 'My Pleasure.'

gern - gladly, willingly

geschehen - to come to pass, to happen, to occur

I liked this phrase at first. It sound cool. But now that I have looked up the individual words, It sounds a little lame. Geschehen is translated as to happen or occur. So when you say Gern geschehen, you are actually saying 'Gladly happened' like you had nothing to do with it? Please tell me I am wrong! I had always though it was more like 'Gladly done.'

An old lady drops her purse, you pick it up and give it to her. She says 'Thank you' and you say, 'Gladly happened?'  Really? Just own it. You just did it! Maybe they should change it to 'Gern getan!' 'Gladly done!'

Germans (and their language) frustrate me some times. They really have a tendency to be self deprecating. It goes beyond just being humble.

Wednesday, February 22, 2012

Ad: Der Letzte Bulle

This ad is for a TV Show called Der Letzte Bulle, The Last Cop. A completely cheesy show in my opinion. German TV show production has a long way still to come. US American TV has spoiled me. I miss my Discovery Channel and Nat Geo and Comedy Central and Animal Planet and . . . I don't want to get into it, just thinking about it makes me miss home. 

Back to the ad. I snapped a picture of this because of the word Bulle. It is the German nickname for a police officer. I believe it is level with the American English 'Cop.'

der Bulle - cop, copper
Note: der Bulle also means Bull, the animal.

Here is the trailer for the 2nd season. What a gem. Enjoy!

Tuesday, February 21, 2012

Rate mal!

Guess what!

I like this phrase in English and use it a lot, but in German I am not sure if it is used quite the same way. What I mean is that in English we often start a conversation with "Guess what!" and this cues whoever we are talking to, that we are about to tell them some news.

Well I have found that when I say "Rate mal!" in German, with the 'intention' to just get someones 'attention.' They respond more like, "Ok, what should I guess about" response instead of, just "Oh, what?" and waiting for your news.

So have started to use it in more specific ways. Like, 'Guess what I did today.' Rate mal was ich heute getan habe. or 'Guess who I saw.' Rate mal, wen ich gesehen habe. When I use it in a complete sentence then people seem to respond in a way I expect.

raten - to guess

Monday, February 20, 2012

Miss Platnum

I have been wanting to share Miss Platnum with you for a long time, but I kept putting it off because she sings in English. The whole point of this blog is to share things about German Language and Culture, and so I was always putting her off to the side. Well, not any more. Today it's all about Miss Platnum.

Miss Platnum's Webpage
Miss Platnum is originally from Romania. She was born in Timişoara, Romania in 1980. When she was eight years old her family relocated to Berlin. That would have been around the time the Wall fell. I always find it interesting to ask people what they experienced when it come to East and West Berlin. It was really a tumultuous time. And the experiences of West and East Berliners are so drastically different. But I digress. . .

Her debut album, Rock Me, released in 2005, had local success, but it was her second album, Chefa, that established her as an artist. Her hip hop, brass band style and the influence of her Romanian roots stands out. Here is one of the singles from her second album.

Mercedes Benz! Click the link to watch it on the website. There are also other videos of hers there to watch.

Miss Platnum - Mercedes Benz von BECAUSE_MUSIC

In 2009 she released her latest Album, The Sweetest Hangover, now singed to a new label, Four Music, the label started by Die Fantastischen Vier.

You can see and hear her development as an artist through her albums. The latest one really has some good beats. Her sound is clearer and with some more va va voom. Can I say that, well I just did. The song, Babooshka, is worth a listen, because the last bit is all in Romanian.  But here is my my favorites from this album, She moved in.

Miss Platnum - She Moved In from Four Music on Vimeo.

Friday, February 17, 2012


Yesterday I was rudely reminded of a good German word.

I was chatting with some guy and the conversation started off interesting enough but then I got the feeling he was trying to get the upper hand. He was trying to school me and tell me how things are, so to speak. Cue eye roll and exasperated sigh. Dude! Stow it! I soon ended the conversation and went on my way.  What a annoying 'know-it-all.' Well not so annoying since he reminded me of this handy and fun word to know.

der Besserwisser - know-it-all, (literally 'Better Know-er')


Thursday, February 16, 2012

Entschuldigung Reloaded

I was chatting the other evening and wanted to say something about an excuse, but I couldn't think of the word for 'Excuse!' I knew I heard it once before, but I couldn't put a finger on it! You know what it is?

die Entschuldigung - excuse

The same as 'excuse me,' 'Entschuldigen Sie mich'.

What!? Really? Well, I guess that makes sense, but it just sounds so odd.

I mean, I already find the word 'Entschuldigung' to be a mouth full as it is, but it was always manageable as a part of a quick standard phrase. But now, I have to actually use it within a German sentence! I am not looking forward to this.

In fact, I have to admit that I don't like this word, I would even go so far as to say that, I hate this word. It just isn't pretty. I hate having to use it. Saying it to strangers so that they can let you pass. Not so much fun. Especially when it is loud and you have to shout it. Really, not cool! This new discovery is a little annoying and it's freaking me out just a bit.

For now here are a few ways I found to use it.

eine Entschuldigung vorbringen/vortragen - to propose/offer an excuse

eine Entschuldigung annehmen - to accept an excuse

Oh boy, I am going to have to practice and I am not looking forward to it.

Tuesday, February 14, 2012

'A Propos French

Bon jour!!
So, do any of you know French?

I unfortunately do not and so, am behind most Germans on that factor. Not that most Germans actually speak French. There is a higher percentage of people in German then in the USA that know some French. I say know because there are many levels of knowing a language and I am referring to all. I think it is somewhat comparable to the percentage of people in the USA that know Spanish (I am referring to non native Spanish speaker). Though the influences of the two languages come from different factors.

In the USA, even if one hasn't taken a actual Spanish lesson, they are still likely to know more Spanish then your average German. Just through our pop culture, for example Speedy Gonzales, Cheech and Chong, Dora the Explore, or the Taco Bell commercials from a while back. Mexico is our close neighbor and we have a intertwining history. So much so that a little Spanish has mixed into the American English language.

The same is with French in Germany. There are many French words that have made their way into the German Language. Which makes sense since the two counties are neighbors, and they have a closely connected history of occupying one another. One of the strongest influences of French on the German Language, and the English Language as well, is due to its historical use as the standard language used in international correspondence, just as English is used in such capacity today.

There are apparently quite a few words that come from French. Most of which I had no idea were not actually original German. Like Tante (Aunt), Krawatte (man's tie) or Balkon (balcony). Here are a few of the 'new to me' French words that I have come across in German.

à propos - by the way, speaking of

das Etikett - label

die Frisur - hairstyle

die Garderobe  - wardrobe; clothes closet, wardrobe (room)

die Perücke (-n)  wig

The spelling has changed in a few of these words, for starters 'C's have been replaced with 'K's, but the pronunciation stays close to the French.

Monday, February 13, 2012

Die Fantastischen Vier

Today we have Die Fantastischen Vier, a staple of German Pop Culture.

Die Fantastischen Vier's Webpage
The band consists of four members. Originally two of them, Michael Schmidt (far left) and Andres Reike (far right) had performed as a duo 'Terminal Team' for two years before Thomas Dürr (center left) and Michael Beck (center right) joined them in 1988. With the addition of the two new members the group was renamed 'Die Fantastischen Vier', (the Fantastic four), also known as Fanta 4. At some point they all developed aliases. In fact I didn't know their real names until I looked them up for this post. In order of appearance (in the photo, from left to right) we've got; Smudo, Thomas D, DJ Hausmarke, and Andy Ipsilon.

The group originates from Stuttgart and were one of the first groups to rap in German. They called German hip hop, Deutschen Sprechgesang (German spoken-song). Their 1992 single 'Die Da' made it to #2 on the German pop charts. Here is the video.

I think of these guys as The Beastie Boys of Germany. Though they are a whole decade behind the Boys their place in the German Rap/ Hip Hop scene and their continued success and their evolution from rapers to producers parallels the same success and evolution of The Beastie Boys.

In 1996 they started their own music label Four Music. Two artist that I have already posted about, Freundeskreis and Joy Denalane, are both on this Label. Along with some other Berlin based acts that I haven't yet to posted about.

Today, Thomas D and Smudo are probably the most recognizable members of the group. Or at least I recognize them right away and know their names, but maybe this is due to the series of World of Warcraft commercials the two did a few years ago.

Or their appearance on one of my favorite weekend shows, Ina's Nacht,back in 2010.

The guys are still going strong. Their latest album 'Für Dich Immer Noch Fanta Sie' was released in 2010. They toured in December of 2011. Right now Thomas D is on the Jury to choose Germany's singing act for the Eurovision Song Contest this year in Baku, Azerbaijan. The show, Unser Star für Baku, has been running through contestants to find a Star for Baku. Tonight is the Semi-finals and Wednesday is the Finals.

Here is a trailer for the show with Thomas D and the other judges. Do you recognize the bald chick? That is Alina Süggeler, the lead singer from Frida Gold

Friday, February 10, 2012

Ad: Fritz Radio

Here is just a quick post. A Fritz RBB radio ad, (I think).
Anders als die Anderen! Different then the others.

anders - different

die Anderen - the others

Thursday, February 9, 2012

Meister Proper und Ursprung Surprise!

I picked up a few things at the store yesterday and I though I might share two of them with you. They both caused me to pause, but for different reasons.

First I bought some bathroom cleaner. Wait a minute doesn't this guy look familiar. Isn't that Mr. Clean?

It sure is, but here in Germany he goes by the alias Meister Proper. Master Neat!

proper - meticulous, neat, tidy, trim

At first the word 'proper' makes me think of manners and of someone complaining. (I am not sure why I thought of complaining, but we already know I have far fetched word associations). Anyway, proper is actually a German word which means neat and tidy. I thought it was just bad reuse of English. So the German name is not so bad. It probably would not sound so good to call him Meister Rein, Meister Sauber or even worse Meister Steril. hehehee!! All three are translated as clean by Leo.   

My second purchase was a mixed bag of Bell peppers, called paprika in German. I like to check where things come from and I try to buy produce that is grown as close as possible to my local. So when it says it comes from The Netherlands, I go ahead and get it because it is just as far away as something grown in a neighboring state in the USA. That is at least how I break it down. 

der Paprika - bell pepper, sweet pepper

I originally wanted to share the word Ursprung, origin, with you. Though when I got home I realized something interesting. There were two origins. The Green pepper was from the Netherlands, but the Red and Yellow pepper were actually from Israel!! What? I was totally surprised. Where did they met up then? The Netherlands, Israel, an undisclosed warehouse in the Ukraine?

Well it appears, via the fine print, that the Israeli peppers were first sent to The Netherlands, packaged there and then sent on to Germany and apparently other countries. The sticker has other languages printed on it other than German. Is it me or does this seem weird?

I realize that this must be a common practice and that in the big picture of things Israel is not that far away from The Netherlands, especially when considering comparable distances within the USA. It just makes my skin crawl to think of all the gas mileage and shipping costs spent so that I could have a red and yellow bell pepper. Seriously is it that necessary?  

Anyway . . . I got side tracked. oops, here is the German I promised.

der Ursprung - beginning, origin , root, source
Note: We discussed the prefix Ur- before.

Wednesday, February 8, 2012

Splitt vs Salz

It has been snowing here in Berlin the last week. Finally!! It has been a mild winter up until now. It has snowed enough that it has covered the roads and sidewalks and people have been sweeping it away and laying down gravel.

Splitt on the sidewalk
Here in Germany when it snows, they don't throw salt on the roads and sidewalks like we do back in the USA. It is not good for the environment! Hello! . . . Instead they use gravel. How Eco-friendly the Germans are. Their standard level of Eco-friendliness is at the high end of the American Eco-friendly scale. It is shameful, because it is quite easy to do what the Germans do. But I digress. . . we can get into that another time. 

der Splitt - broken or crushed stone, chippings, flint, grit, stone chips.

Note: The stoney material that is thrown on the ground when it snows is called Splitt, which is not translated as gravel, even though when speaking in English, we (me and native German speakers) call it gravel. (Though they may have picked that word up from me.) Anyway I will continue to call it gravel, because that is what it looks like to me.

The word gravel, however, is translated as die Flusssteine (geo.), der Grieß (tech.) or der Schotter (constr.).

Salt is available in German for the roads and sidewalks, but it is rarely used. I have never noticed it. The City has trucks that shovel the snow up and then sprinkles gravel out the back. Shop owners seem to be responsible for the sidewalks in front of their shops and I have seen them only using gravel as well.

The gravel works in that it provides traction and prevents slips, it doesn't however melt the snow. One draw back that is sure to be super annoying for clean freaks, is that it gets tracked everywhere! The entrances to stores, buildings and even Train, to name a few, are not only wet from melting now, but are dirty and gritty from all the little stones that get tracked inside too. That said, I like it better then the salt. It doesn't bother me anymore.

In the beginning of my first winter here in Germany, I was a little annoyed by it and was like, "Why don't they just use salt," but by the end of that first winter I had made my peace with it and now I don't even notice it anymore. Actually I notice more, when it is not there then when it is. It's slippery out there and I need that extra traction!!

Tuesday, February 7, 2012

Ad: Berlin Slang

I have seen this advertizement a few time around the city, but I never understood it so I never took a picture of it. It is just an advertisement for the Ad space itself. I finally realized that there must be some kind of significance or meaning, and too this picture to share. And guess what, it sure does.

The Ad says "This advertizement space is simply knorke! Reserve it now!"

Knorke - is Berlin slang for Cool. It is old slang, that is no longer used seriously.

Think of it as having the same standing in the German language as old US-American slang like 'gnarly' or 'rad.' We all know it, but no longer use it seriously in conversation.

Monday, February 6, 2012

Wir Sind Helden

This weeks Media Monday post is about the group. Wir Sind Helden.
Wir Sind Helden's Webpage
They are quite a popular and well known band in Germany and have had many sold out concerts over the years. The group is based in Berlin, though it was originally established in Hamburg in 2001. They quickly rose to fame and have released four albums since they came together, the last in 2010.  You still hear their music on the radio and TV even though there isn't anything new out from them at this time. 
I really enjoy this group, their songs are strong and the lyric are good and don't feel forced. The singer, Judith Holofernes' voice is very recognizable and she has clear understandable pronunciation. Which is something I really appreciate.
This is taken from Judith's Wiki-page, explaining that, "her stage name, Holofernes, alludes to the general of the Babylonian King Nebuchadnezzar, whose decapitation by Judith . . .was told of in the Old Testament. Judith and Holofernes is also a commonly covered topic in art history." I just thought this was clever and wanted to share.
Here are two music videos from their latest album, 'Bring mich nach Hause' (Take me home). The first single has the same name as the album, 'Bring mich nach Hause', the second is 'Alles' (Everything). I think they are beautifully shot with an unusual visual story. Very cool!The videos are linked and the second video picks up where the first left off. Check them out.

Wir sind Helden - Alles from Christopher Haering on Vimeo.

I really wanted to share one of their earlier hits, but I could only find it on YouTube, and lately most of the videos I try to watch on YouTube are blocked. Which is seriously annoying!!

But here is the link anyway, maybe you can watch it wherever you are. This song, 'Nur ein Wort' was the first one of theirs that caught my attention. I really enjoyed the video, even though they got the idea from an old Bob Dylan video.

Friday, February 3, 2012

Is it Kreuz or Kreis?

For what ever reason I always think of Kreuz as circle and Kreis as cross. I didn't necessarily learn the words incorrectly, but I just can't seem to shake the backwards association!

das Kreuz - cross

der Kreis - circle, circuit (electrical), ring

I mean, I see the word Kreuz, I think circle, but then tell myself "No no that means cross", but then I still have a delayed response where my brain fights with itself and sometime the Pro-Circle side wins!! And with Kreis I just have no idea and have to always think about it and still more often then not get it wrong. (Geez, even now writing that sentence I was confusing myself!! What's the deal!!)

Why oh why do I have such trouble with these seemingly simple words? Where did I picked up this bad habit?

One culprit is the Berlin S-bahn!!! Berlin has a S-bahn track that circles the city, called the Ringbahn and two trains, S41 Ring (clockwise) and S42 Ring (counter clockwise) that run the circle.

im Uhrzeigersinn - clockwise

gegen Uhrzeigersinn - counter clockwise

Well on the Ringbahn, along with many other stations there is Ostkreuz, Südkreuz, Westkreuz (East, South and West Cross). I travel through Ostkreuz and Südkreuz quite often on the Ring. So now whenever I see the word Kreuz, I think of me traveling on the Ringbahn and so I associate Kreuz with the Ring and can't seem to shake it!

The thing with the word for circle, Kreis, is that it has the same vowel sound, 'ei' as the German noun streichen, to cancel, to strike, to 'hello' cross off. So I always have to think hard about it and try and remember that Kreis is not cross. But I don't always succeed.

streichen - to cancel (sth.), to cross off, to delete (sth.), to paint, to strike  
note: this word has many more meanings, Leo it.

This all may sound a little crazy and far fetched, I understand. These are just split second thoughts, I don't actively think about all this stuff when I am faced with Kreuz or Kreis. Or maybe I should and my problem will be solved!

anyway. . .

I am sure if you think about it you have some random weird word associations too. Or I sure hope so, so I don't feel so crazy. But really now that I am analyzing why I always seem to mix these words up it make more sense and I don't feel quite so much like an idiot anymore. Well, kind of . .