Monday, December 30, 2013

Dinner for One

So there may not be a German Christmas Movie Tradition, but there sure is one for New Years!

Every New Years Eve an old black and white British comedy sketch from 1963 called Dinner for One or The 90th Birthday, is played on German TV. It features comedians Freddie Friton and May Warden. It is pretty funny. What makes it extra interesting, is that it is not dubbed and is played in English. I also have yet to notice any subtitles either. I think it is a pretty cool tradition.


Happy New Year!

Tuesday, December 24, 2013


I have watched A Christmas Carol about four times this Christmas season. Not all the same versions of course. I had no idea there were so many. Anyway I got a good dose of Mr. Ebenezer Scrooge.

You know his famous line of 'Bah Humbug.' Well its German!

der Humbug - nonsense, bull shit

Isn't that cool! All this time I thought it was just some random phrase that Charles Dickens (the author of A Christmas Carol) invented.

I had always thought this since we don't use the word Humbug in English in any other situation. Just in reference to this story and maybe for fun around the Christmas season. Out of this context it has no other meaning. It makes more sense that is has a meaning in some other language. And that language happens to be German!

Germans may have Humbug but they don't have scrooge. Outside of the context of this famous story we call people who are greedy and don't want to share scrooge. I am not sure which word I like better. Scrooge or Humbug. But it doesn't matter because I get to use! A little Christmas present from the German language to us.

                                       .               .                .

It Christmas Eve today!! It is the day Germans celebrate Chirstmas and get to open their presents. I discussed this back in 2011 so here is a link to that post if you are interested.

Frohe Weihnachten!!

Monday, December 23, 2013

Weihnachts Lieder!!

On this last Media Monday before Christmas, how about some Christmas Music!!

First off here is O' Tannenbaum.
Ernst Anschütz, a organist from Leipzig wrote the modern song we know in 1824. He based it on a 16th century folk song. It wasn't intended as a Christmas song but gained popularity as such in the early 20th century (info from wikipedia).

O'Tannenbaum sung by Nana Mouskouri

Next is Stille Nacht, Heilige Nacht, probably one of the most Famous Christmas songs of all. The music was scored by Franz Xaver Gruber and the lyrics were written by Joseph Mohr in Oberndorf bei Salzburg, Austria  in 1818. Appropriately sung here by the Vienna Boys Choir.

Those were the only Christmas song that I know to be originally writen auf Deutsch. I wasn't happy with just these two so I did some searching and found a few Christmas Songs from Rolf Zuckowski.

Rolf Zuckowski a German Musician and Music producer from Hamburg. He is known for haveing written many song for kids and has a whole bunch of Christmas songs too. He seems to be German equivalent of Raffi. Raffi is a US Americans song writer, he wrote hits in the 80's like "Baby Balooga in the Deep Blue Sea. . ." and also has a Great Christmas Album. Which I still listen to each Christmas.

Well, most kid songs I can't get into these days, specially German kid songs. Though luckly I found one that is not bad. Lasst Uns Froh und Munter Sein (Lets be Happy and Jolly) by Rolf Zuckowski.

Have a Merry Christmas!!

Saturday, December 21, 2013

Visiting Cards

I learned about these the other day.

die Visitenkarte - Business Card

I know what Business cards are. A lot of people have them now a days. I didn't know where they came from. I never really thought about it before.

Apparently back in the day, when someone came to visit someone, they handed one of the servant their 'Visiting Card'. The servant then brought it to whoever the guy wants to visit. That person reads the card to see who is there and then decides to visit with them, more or less. Wikipedia has a nice explanation.

It is cool that in German they still call them Visiting cards even though they no longer have the same function as they once did.  By keeping the name Visitenkarte, the history of their use has been preserved in most Germans' pop culture knowledge.

Friday, December 20, 2013


I am ready for Christmas. All my gifts are bought and wrapped.

das Geschenk - gift

das Geschenkpapier - wrapping paper

einpacken -  to wrap (a pressent)
note: there are other words for 'wrapping', I just chose one here.

die Weihnachtsdeko - Christmas decorations

der Weihnachtsbaum - Christmas Tree

Just waiting on the Weihnachtsmann to get here.

der Weihnachtsmann -  Santa Clause (the Christmas Man)

Thursday, December 19, 2013


It is interesting how new words pop up. This one popped up the other day.

die Narbe - scar

We all have little scars from falling off bikes and skinning are knees as kids. We can also have much larger scars from serious accidents.

There are even scars that we can't see, emotional scars. Emotionale Narben. It more likely that one would say emotionale Wunde, auf Deutsch instead of emotionale Narbe. However it is still correct and can be used.

emotional - emotional

die Wunde - wound

Wednesday, December 18, 2013


This is a word I like. It just sounds cool to me.

die Theke - counter, bar (in a store)

I have never actually heard someone use this word. Though I have seen it used in signs and advertisements a few time. For example at the movie theater. You buy your popcorn at the Theke.

Für jeden das Richtige - An der Theke! --- The right one for everyone - at the counter!
The word Apotheke has Theke in it. Though I am not sure it is actually connected. Apotheke comes from the Greek word apothēkē which means 'store house.' I haven't been able to find out the origin of Theke. If anyone knows, please share.

die Apotheke - Pharmacy

Tuesday, December 17, 2013


During this winter season you are sure to catch a cold at some point. I have been sick twice, in the last week! Only seven days apart. I have spent my last two Fridays in bed!! I am hoping that this Friday breaks the pattern! Some say; Good and Bad Things always come in threes. I hope that is not the case this week!

One benefit of this is that I have a good story for the next Dinner Party. Germans always end up talking about their ailments. It is a funny thing to witness. Someone, a fellow Ausländer, had told me this once. So I paid attention the next time I was hanging out with some Germans. Not too long into the night what ended up being discussed? Yep, Illness! and for about 45 minutes if not an hour! It happens all the time, no matter what the age group it always seems to come up. Ok not with kids but 20 years old and up.

After this first experience I shared this observation with mein Freund, who didn't believe me and was very skeptical. Though the next time we were at a party, Illness came up. He noticed it and we have been noticing ever since. It is like a private game of ours or inside joke. We always make eye contact and smile when it happens.

But back to the Vocabulary of this post.

When you are sick, it is polite not to get others sick. To prevent this, don't go out when your contagious!

ansteckend - infectious, contagious, contractible

nicht ansteckend - noncontagious

anstecken - to infect, to pass something on to someone; to attach something, to pin something on someone

Also note that, not only your cold can be contagious, but also your smile or yawning.
Ansteckende Lachen contagious laugh.

Monday, December 16, 2013

Bonus Post: 50 Cent Richer

One of the Rubbellose paid off!!

We are fifty cents richer! Yeah!!

Christmas Recipes!

This is not your normal Media Monday. Christmas is coming and today's 'media', is the an old fashioned one. Recipes that have been passed down over generations.

Here are a few goodies that are synonymous with a German Christmas!

Our First Glühweins of the Season!!

Is a Mulled wine. What does mulled mean? Yeah I didn't know, apparently it means warmed and spiced.
Glühwein is often spiced with cinnamon sticks, cloves and anise and sometimes with vanilla beans.
It can also be served mit Schuss, with a shot, of Rum, or Amaretto. I prefer it with Amaretto. So Yummy

If you don't want to go to the nearest Weihnachtsmarkt you can always get some at the story and warm it up at home.

When you can't get any premade Glühwein at the store here is a recipe for you to make it at home from scratch.

der Schuss - shot

Lebkuchen is a cookie that is often translated as Gingerbread, but it is nothing like the gingerbread that I grew up with. Lebkuchen has a similar taste to Gingerbread but it is much lighter and fluffier. The store bought lebkucken often has a wafer base.

I try these every year and they never really do it for me. They are tasty, but I prefer the harder style of Gingerbread. Here is a recipe if you want to make them at home.

Die Mutter meines Freund had actually made us two of these. They are long gone and I never took a picture. They were very very Yummy!! I was so surprised. This was the first time I ever had Stollen. They had never looked very appetizing to me.

They seemed to be the German version of a Fruit Cake! So I was always against it for the wrong reasons. I mean Fruit Cake is the running joke of ever Christmas! You never actually eat it but re-gift it to those you don't really like. Not the case with German Fruit Cake

There are a few different German recipes for Stollen. So you can make them to your preference. They all call for Sultaninen.

die Sultanine - Raisin

And some call for these fruit jellies. Appetizing!!

Here is the recipe for Stollen.

Spekulatius is probably my favorite German Christmas cookie. It is crunchy and reminds me of a mix between gingerbread and gingersnap cookies. There may not even be any ginger in it now that I think about it but it definitely has a Christmas spice flavor. Yumm. Great with a hot cup of cocoa!

I wasn't able to find a Recipe in English so here is one in German! Have fun!

  • 250 g Butter, Zimmertemperatur
  • 200 g Zucker
  • 500 g Mehl
  • 1/2 TL Kardamom
  • 1 TL Zimt
  • 1 TL gemahlene Nelken
  • 1/2 TL Backpulver
  • 1/2 TL Wasser

  1. Butter und Zucker schaumig rühren. dann die restlichen Zutaten tugeben und alles schnell durchkneten. Teig 1 Stunde im Kühlschrank kalt stellen.
  2. Spekulatiusbrett oder Spekulatiusformen leicht einölen und dünn mit Mehl bestäuben. Teig in die Form drücken und mit einem scharfen Messer oder Draht den überstehenden Teig abziehen.
  3. Spekulatius aus der Form nehmen und auf ein gefettetes oder mit Backpapier ausgelegtes Backblech legen.
  4. Backofen auf 180 °C vorheizen und Spekulatius ca. 15 Minuten backen.

die Zutat - ingredient

die Zubereitung - preparation

Merry Christmas!!

Saturday, December 14, 2013


Yesterday was a Gammeltag!!

I spent the day in my PJs and putzed around not doing much. I didn't run any errands. I didn't clean the house. I just laid around and watched Christmas movies and read my book.

I actually did this because I was sick. So it was technically a sick day. Though I thought we could still take the opportunity to learn a new word.

der Gammeltag - a day where one does not go to work or does not do house work, but lays around and relaxes.

gammeln - to rot or spoil (as in food); to pass your time without a steady job, without a goal; or to waste your time, dilly dally.

Thursday, December 12, 2013


Here is a random word for today. I read a little blurb about the Fallschirm.

der Fallschirm - parachute

der Schirm  -  umbrella, screen, shield

At first glance this word made me think of Fallout protection. Nuclear Fallout. A little dreary I know. I wasn't too far off with the protection aspect though. Fallschirm are used to save your life, but in a different kind of Fall-Out, like a fall, out of a plane!

It is also funny when you directly translated it, the fall shield or fall umbrella. Wait, is this what Mary Poppins used?

Wednesday, December 11, 2013


Die Mutter meines Freund sent us Scratch-off Tickets as an Advent Calender. So we have 24 chances to win it big.

Scratch-off Ticket - das Rubbellos or die Rubbelkarte

rubbeln  - to rub

So far they have all been duds.

Come on Rubbellose!! Mama wants to by her a new pair o' shoes!

Tuesday, December 10, 2013

Who is Orkan?

Towards the end of last week and over the weekend there was quite a big storm bearing down on the northwestern German Coastline. It was a very large winter storm that also effected most of the UK, the Netherlands, Belgium, and Denmark to name a few.

It was such a strong winter storm that they named it, Xaver.

It didn't actually hit Germany until late Friday night, but all week, the news shows were all over it. Talking about the path of the storm, the conditions that helped form it, what to expect from it. The normal procedure for covering a huge storm, except they kept talking about Orkan. (Orkan by the way is a Turkish name) Who is Orkan, and what is the big deal?

der Orkan -  a severe fall/winter wind storm specific to Europe.

So it has nothing to do with a Turkish guy at all?! Ah! Now that makes way more sense.

The word itself comes from the Spanish word 'huracàn' which means hurricane. Orkan use to refer to all kinds of big wind storm; Hurricanes, Tornadoes, Typhoons etc. However nowadays it is used more specifically for, a European Windstorm. European Windstorms are extra-tropical (non-tropical) and cyclonic in nature, low pressure systems with winds starting at 64kn. They occur in late fall and the winter months.

Here are more words related to Orkan: Who would have thought the Weather could be so much fun?!

der Wirbelsturm - windstorm, whirlwind, storm, cyclone

der Wirbel - curl, swirl, twirl, whirl

der Hurrikan - hurricane, a tropical windstorm

der Taifun - typhoon, a tropical windstorm (specifically in the northwest Pacific region)

der Zyklon - cyclone, a tropical windstorm (specifically in the Indian Ocean and parts of the Pacific)

Here is a news clip from Euronews (auf Deutsch).

In this video the Reporter call 'Xaver' an Orkantief which is an intense low-pressure storm system. Here Tief is a noun. (Bonus Word for us!). Orkantief seems to be interchangeable with Orkan and just emphasises the low-pressure characteristic.

das Tief - depression or low pressure (both Meteorology terms)

tief - deep, low, profound

It is also important to be specific with the pronunciation of Orkan. I kept putting the emphasis on the 'Or'. Which is wrong!! With the emphasis on the first syllable, you say the name 'Orkan.' To mean the storm, the emphasis has to be on the on the 'kan'.

So far I am terrible at this, I have to say the word split up to get it right. Good luck!

Monday, December 9, 2013

Kein Deutscher Weihnachtsfilm?

For today's Media Monday, I had really tried hard to find an original German Christmas Movie to share. There doesn't appear to be one. Which I find hard to believe. At least there isn't one that any of the Germans I asked can remember.

Ok, so then there must be some Christmas movie that is played on TV every year that everyone watches or  at least has seen at some point. Like It's a Wonderful Life with Jimmy Stewart which gets played multiple times on TV during the Christmas Season back in the states. There has got to be something like that then, right? Well apparently the answer to that is a big fat NEIN.

I have to say I am a little bummed and I feel a little sorry for the kiddos. This is a little dramatic, but I mean, I grew up with all kind of Christmas movies, and Cartoons. There are still a few that I gladly watch as an adult.  For example, my 'Gotta watch for Christmas' list leaders, in no particular order, are A Charlie Brown Christmas (1965, Animated), The Little Drummer Boy (1968, Claymation), Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer (1964, Claymation) and A Christmas Story (1983).

I am just so surprised that in Germany, a country that I so easily associate with Christmas. We get Christmas Tree from them for starters. And the songs O' Christmas Tree and Silent Night were originally German Christmas songs. After all that they would surely have one movie! A Christmas Short,  cartoon, something!!

Alas I did not find what I was looking for. Though I did find this short little animated story, called Zwei Euros für den Weihnachtsmann, Two Euros for Santa Claus (The Christmas Man), by Björn Steffens and read by Wolfgang Stössel. It is better then nothing, I didn't want to leave you empty handed.

The story, itself is a nice little Christmas story. It may be a little fast for some of you, but the images should help you to understand the basic story.

If anyone knows of a German Christmas Movie or Movie Tradition, Please share. I am sure there is something out there!

Update: Check the comments!! 

Saturday, December 7, 2013

Danke für Ihre Mühe

So earlier this year I received an email where in its contents was the phrase.

Danke für Ihre Mühe.

Which I took as, 'thanks for your effort.' I hadn't double checked, I just took it from the context. My assumption was correct. Danke für Ihre Mühe does mean thanks for your effort. Which is lucky because I head read Mühe as Müll.

die Mühe - effort, labor, pain, toil

der Müll - waste, trash, garbage

When I read this sentence, Mühe was not apart of my vocabulary and my mind went to the closes word it knew, Müll and so I read the sentence as Danke für Ihren Müll. I translated it as Thanks for your garbage, but still took it to mean Thanks for your effort. I just though it was one of those phrases that directly translated didn't make sense.

Now this week I happened to use this phrase with mein Freund. To which he looked at me cockeyed and said in English "What garbage?" Then I was like " You know, danke für deinen Müll, thanks for your effort, thanks for trying." He still looked puzzled. "Doesn't that mean, thanks for the effort?" I asked now also puzzled. Then a light bulb went off and he just started laughing!

It was pretty funny. I laughed too once he explained my mistake. I guess it was pretty silly mistake. But seriously I did know the word Mühe until two days ago when mein Freund explained it to me.

German is a crazy language anything is possible. And apparently to me that means even a random sentence involving Garbage.

Friday, December 6, 2013


I find this word a little odd and for a German word quite vague.

bergen - to recover, save something/someone by digging them our or uncovering them. Also can be used in terms of shipwrecks and their cargo.

Really? I would have though it would have something to with Mountaineering or mountain climbing. I mean we are always taught to look at the root word if we are stuck, right? The root word is Berg, I thought for sure that was a dead giveaway. But Alas it is not. Again German has pulled another trick out of its bag.

OK so that is odd and unexpected. No connection to Mountains, OK. Ooh, though you can bergen Skiers out of an avalanche. And Avalanches usually happens in the mountains so there is one possible connection. . . .

What I find vague is that this simple unassuming word, bergen means such a specific and technical thing. German and its love of direct wording just went out the window on this one.

Why couldn't bergen just have meant, mountaineering. What exactly is mountaineering? I don't know but it has to do with Mountains! See the direct connection?

Then with bergen meaning mountaineering, we could have some combination of  aus- auf-, heben/ ziehen/ graben, + von + aus. to mean to recover, save something/someone by digging them our or uncovering them. It doesn't matter what the word looks like any combination of those would work. Then with this new word all would be clear and right again in the world.

Where is die Ordnung when you need it.

das Bergen - recovery, salvage


die Bergen - Mountains (Plural from der Berg - mountain)

Thursday, December 5, 2013

Hast du Lust?

I was thinking about this phrase the other day and decided to look into the actual translation of the word Lust. This word is pronounced Loost.

"Hast du Lust?" - "Are you interested?" is one of the first phrases I learned. It is the precursor to "Hast du Bock?", which I discuss in this post. It is a precursor, in that when learning German you usually learn this phrase with Lust before you learn it with Bock.

I had always thought of Lust as similar to Spaß (fun). Specially since lustig means funny. However that is not the whole truth.

die Lust - delight, zest, desire

There it was the word 'desire'. Of course many of you may be saying 'well duh,' it is spelled the same as the English word 'lust', so of course the translation of 'desire' fits. I realize that and it is not that I was shocked or in disbelief. I was just a little disappointed. Like a little bubble of illusion was popped

What I mean is that this word has lost a bit of its humor. It was a fun word to work with because it is spelled like the English word 'Lust' but didn't mean the same. And so it was humorous. Like a little kid that doesn't realized it just make a dirty joke. Like the kids on YouTube who's parents taped them saying 'Truck'  but sounds like F- - -. That is what Lust was for me but now it is not so funny anymore.

The word Lust does have the meaning of desire, but it is not as strong as the English word Lust. It is mild like the desire and doesn't have any negative connotations. Though it does have this meaning it also means delight and fun and it is mostly used in this sense and most commonly heard in the phrase mentioned above.

Since the English word lust was discussed so much, I thought to add it to the vocabulary here at the bottom.

die Sinnenlust - lust

Update: Also spelt die Sinneslust. Though both word are listed in Duden, Sinneslust is the more commonly used spelling. 

Sinnenlust makes it very clear that this is the naughty kind of desire. Again a marvel of German direct translation.

der Spaß - fun, joke, amusement

lustig - funny, cheerful, merry

Wednesday, December 4, 2013


I heard this word the other day.


Can you guess what it means? It made me laugh, once I found out what it was. I had really thought about it a while. I broke down the word into it's parts but never actually had the correct answer. It is kind of obvious. I did a face palm when I found out the answer.

The word Bildergeschichte makes me think of of another obvious, but also not so obvious word. Sprachgesang. Both these words are hilarious in there directly translatable meanings. However they still seem obscure too me. Some times I wish German wasn't so direct and that they got a little more creative with words.

Though I shouldn't complain, that may actually make things worse. Besides without all these little orderly oddities of the German language, it would be so boring to learn. And what would we have to talk or more fitting 'complain' about?  Das Wetter?

Did you guess yet?

Give up?

die Bildergeschichte - comic strip, literally picture story

People also seam to use the word Komik, or at least they know it. However depending on the conversation or who you are having it with you may need to clarify that you mean Bildergeschichte and not an actual Comedian.

der Sprechgesang - rap, spoken-singing

der Gesang - chant, singing, melody

Sprechgesang in also mentioned in this post from last year about Die Fantastischen Vier.

Tuesday, December 3, 2013

Mitleid not Beileid

Here are two words that I keep getting confused and it is not so funny to misuse these.

das Mitleid - pity, charity, mercy

das Beileid - condolences, commiseration

das Leid - harm, suffering, distress, sorrow

I always want to use Mitleid, but I never seem to remember it until I say Beileid, get a weird look and then realize, oops I mean Mitleid.

Beileid is really only used when someone dies. That is what I am repeatedly reminded by people when I misuse it. I don't use these words that often. I seem to forget every time!!

Monday, December 2, 2013


Last week my whole class went to see the movie Knallhart at the neighborhood theater. We went to see it instead of going to class. It started at 9:30 AM!

I couldn't find a poster image with the original German Title. Here is the English one.

This movie was originally released back in 2006, and was filmed in Neukölln, right here in my neighborhood. Back then Neukölln had a very bad reputation. It was known for gangs and having drug dealers on every corner. It was in bad shape to say the least. Thankfully now it is not and when I first moved here in 2009 it was already noticeably better.

The movie follows the story of a 15 year old and how he tries to get by. He moves to Neukölln with his mother. He is targeted at his new school by a bully. His mother is preoccupied and she isn't much help. Michael ends up trying to take care of the bully himself, but long story short things quickly spiral downhill.

Here is the trailer from YouTube. Sorry no subtitles.

As the title, Knallhart (Tough Enough) suggests, the movie is harsh, it is ruff and I don't recommend watching it first thing in the morning. Though it is worth a watch.

der Knall - bang, crack

hart - hard, bitter, severe

Knallhart - tough as nails or bad ass

Friday, November 29, 2013

Kritik Üben

I learned a completely new way to use the word üben today.

Üben itself is word that every German student should have in their vocabulary. Because it is something you should do as often as possible if you want to get better in German.

üben - to practice

However when you pair up the verb üben with the noun Kritik it changes the meaning completely.

Kritik üben - to criticise (an + Dative) someone/ something

die Kritik - criticism, review (movie, book)

Here are two examples:

Der Politiker hat Kritik an seinem Gegner geübt. The politician criticized his opponent.

Der Politiker hat Kritik an einem Gesetz geübt. The politician criticized a law.

You can also just use the verb kritisieren instead if you want, but then where is the fun in that. Besides if you whip Kritik üben out in a conversation it is sure to get noticed.

kritisieren - to criticise

Thursday, November 28, 2013


I don't like this word.

It is not easy to say. It doesn't roll of the tongue. And most annoying of all the definitions from Leo seem to be slightly contradicting. It translates it as to fiddle about and to work meticulously.

I'm sorry but isn't 'to fiddle about' the exact opposite of 'to work maticulously'?

In class the word was described more like 'to tinker' and is used mainly when discussing inventions. Imagine someone in a workshop building something new from scratch. This interpretation of tüfteln was also confirmed by mein Freund.

tüfteln - to tinker or fiddle (with an invention)

Wednesday, November 27, 2013

Bergab vs Bergauf

Two new word to add to my already stuffed brain.

Hills along the train route between Dresden and Prague

bergab - downhill

bergauf - uphill

Bergab has a negative connotation. It is used to refer to things going downhill, to get worse. Unlike in English, where it can be used for both negative and positive meanings. For example. 'His plans are going down hill.' (negative) or 'After this turn it's all downhill from here.' (positive)

It can however be used literally as in to coast your bike downhill.

bergab rollen - to coast downhill (with a bike, car, etc)

Bergauf on the other hand has a positive connotation. It is used to imply things are getting better, are looking up. Even though I would argue that it is harder to go up a hill then down it. But I guess the positiveness of upward movement in general overrides the literal here.

This is a great example of seemingly simple vocabulary that is nothing but! It is not enough to learn the translation, uphill and downhill, but you also have to learn their (counterintuitive) meaning. I am sure to get this mixed up!

Learning German is a slow uphill battle! oh or should that be bergauf?

Tuesday, November 26, 2013

Lehrer or Lehre

It is interesting how sometimes the simplest thing can confuse you and then this continues to distract you so much that you can't focus on the next task at hand. That happened the other day in class. I was totally confused.

Someone used the word Lehre in their sentence. Which the teacher also wrote on the board. She spelled the word which I thought was teacher, 'Lehre', in stead of 'Lehrer.' Which only confused me. At first I thought that maybe in German they just spell it different sometimes, like we do in English with Theater and Theatre. I just left it as that and continued on with the next sentence. But it just kept nagging at me.

I kept thinking about it and realized that 'Teacher' didn't quite fit in the sentence. I finally just had to ask it was driving me crazy. 

die Lehre - apprenticeship or doctrine, teachings and (figuratively a) lesson

Not to be confused with 

der(die) Lehrer(in) - teacher, instructor

Here in Germany apprenticeships are still a strong aspect of the work force. There are many people just out of high school that take on apprenticeships to learn a new job or skill. Die Lehre usually just refers to this time as an apprentice as you learn the new trade.

It is also used to mean a lesson. The best example of this is in this common saying, "Lass dir das eine Lehre sein!" "Let this be a lesson to you!"

So let this be a lesson to you: Ask questions when you are confused, it saves you stress and time and you can learn something too. This Lesson of course is meant for your next German Class but can be applied to other situation in you life as well. Like Spanish class! 

Monday, November 25, 2013

Good Bye Lenin!

I recently rewatched the movie Good Bye Lenin! (yes, that is the original German title). I had originally watched it back when I first moved to Germany and had really enjoyed it. Watching it this time was even better than the first!

Good Bye Lenin! is set in 1990 in Berlin. It is at it's most basic, a story about what a son will do for his mother. Though the layers of this story keep getting pulled back as the movie progresses. One of the best things about it is, it gives us a great look (though limited) into what the DDR was.

For those of you who don't know, DDR stands for Deutsche Demokratische Republik. In English it is GDR, the German Democratic Republic or more simply East German. I wont go into details about the DDR, but for the intention of understanding the premise of the movie it had been it's own separate country for just over forty years. And after the wall fell East and West Germany were reunited as well as East and West Berlin.

The story takes place in Berlin around the time of the Fall of the Wall and the months after. The story revolves around Alex, who has grown up in the DDR in East Berlin. His mother has been a very active member of the society. She has a heart attack and falls into a coma. While she is in the coma the Wall falls and the DDR is no longer.

Imagine you go to sleep in your country and wake up in another. That is literally what happens to the Mother. However there is a catch. The doctor warns Alex that even though his mother has woken up and is recovering her heart is still weak. She would not survive another heart attack. She should avoid, at all costs, getting too excited or upset.

What then ensues is a crazy mad and completely hilarious effort of Alex, with the help of his sister, friends and even their neighbors to recreate the DDR for their mother.

Here is the trailer from YouTube

Good Bye Lenin! was extra enjoyable this second time for a few reasons. The first being that my German is much better and I didn't have to rely on subtitles this time around. Second because I recognized landmarks and areas and understood references to different thing that were discussed.

And lastly because this time I have a better understanding (as much as it is possible for an American to have) of the change that was taking place in East Berlin at the time.

Your country is no more, that means your currency is no longer valid, your job may be is gone. Your plans for your future are in question, your school and curriculum has changed. Even the food you eat is different. When talking about the fall of the Wall most people focus on the new freedom of movement between the East and West and the demise of the DDR Government and Stasi. They don't usually think about the more personal loss and upheaval in the day to day goings-ons that the East Germans must have felt in the first few months and years as they reevaluated their changed options and altered lives.

This movie is a lot of fun, and you do not need to be completely familiar with the DDR to enjoy it. I really recommend it for anyone. Even if you are not interested in learning German. The story has many layers and is very well done.

Saturday, November 23, 2013

Und Zu Guter Letzt

And to round up this week of posts is. . . Last but not least.

I really mean 'Last but not least.'

zu guter letzt - last but not least

My German teacher has been using it a lot this week and I finally remembered to share it with you.

Friday, November 22, 2013


This word sounds so cute. I want to scrunch up my nose and imitate talking to a little baby when I say it. "Oh, you little Kleingedruckte." Though that would not really be considered appropriate, actually probably not considered appropriate unless you are actually talking to a baby. . . or a pet.

das Kleingedruckte - the fine print

Kleingedruckte refers to the actual fine print of a contract. It also can be used in reference to details. Like we say in English, be aware of the fine print, even when there is no actual 'Fine Print' to read.

Thursday, November 21, 2013


I was reminded of this word today. I had first learned it sometime ago, but I never really used it myself for a few reasons. It seems to go hand in hand with parents of young kids and teachers and grandparents. Well, pretty much anyone who spends alot of time around kiddos.

schummeln - to cheat

I have babysat a little boy, pretty regularly for about three years. I first learned the word schummeln from just being around the little kids and their parents. Though the word never really stuck in my head because I never really got the opportunity to use it since, I always talked with the kids I sat in English. They are all bilingual kids.

Schummeln means to cheat but it is the mild way of saying it. As I mentioned before you generally use it with young kids. A teenage might laugh at you or roll their eyes if you use it with them. I would also not expect to hear it from adults when talking or discussing the actions of other adults. There is a more formal word for those circumstances, which sounds adequately formal and harsh.

betrügen - to cheat

Wednesday, November 20, 2013

Heiß vs Scharf

In English we use the word 'hot' to refer to both the temperature of something and/or the spiciness of something (aka food).

Imagine you are eating with some friends and they take a bite of their pasta and then exclaim "Oh that's hot!"

It is totally normal for you to then ask, "Do you mean hot as in spicy or hot as in temperature?"

Now at least this is a common scenario that I have grown up with.

My mom happened to be recently for a visit and this exact scenario happened. I was the pasta eater, who exclaimed that my food was hot. To which my mom asked "Hot spicy or Hot temperature?" In stead of answering her question like a normal person, I exclaimed "A ha!" in very much like a Sherlock Holmes Eureka moment and pointed at my mom, who looked a little surprised and bewildered. Unfazed I turned to mein Freund and hooted "See, we really do ask it! Did you hear her?"

My reaction seemed quite ridiculous to everyone else at the table, which I only noticed because of the look mein Freund gave me over his pasta laden fork and also for the calm and curious look of 'awaiting an explanation' that my mom maintained. Might I add here that my Mom is great, she just kind of smiled and waited for my explanation, which I preceded to provide.

Which was that in German they have two different words for temperature hot and spicy hot.

Heiß - hot (temperature)

Scharf - hot (spiciness)

So no confusion and it is often considered quite funny that we have to clarify which we mean. I guess we could say spicy, but I just never do.

This moment with my mom also happened the way it did because mein Freund often said he had a hard time believing that we English speakers actually asked for this clarification. So when my mom asked, unprompted, I might have over reacted just a tad.

Tuesday, November 19, 2013


I discovered the word beisetzen the other day.

Often when you are learning a foreign language and you come across a new word you can beak it down into it's part to figure out the meaning. Though this technic is often very helpful sometimes it just doesn’t help at all.

Which is what happened with beisetzen.

The first part of the word, 'bei' means with or by. The second half of the word 'setzen' means to set, lay, place. So knowing those words, it would seem like that beisetzen would then mean something like 'to lay with' or 'set a side', right? Nope. Wrong.

beisetzen - to bury, to inter

Beisetzen means to bury someone! Which is interesting. You kind of do set aside someone in a sense when you bury someone. So maybe I wasn't so far off . . . ?

But in all seriousness, beisetzen is apparently a slightly older word, which is not used so often. Think of it more as 'to inter' then 'to bury'.

Here are the two more comely used words for 'to bury'.

begraben - to bury

beerdigen - to bury

Monday, November 18, 2013

Knockin' on Heaven's Door

I finally got around to watching the movie Knockin' on Heaven's Door. I am not really sure if it is considered a cult classic, but every German that I have asked about the movie seem to rave about it. And upon finding out that I hadn't seen it, insisted that I really needed to see it.


Knockin' on Heaven's Door  stars Til Schweiger and Jan Josef Liefers as two terminally ill patients, who make a pack to see the ocean before they die. The movie follows their escapades as they try, any way they can, to get to the coast. It is kind of a crazy lawbreaking road trip movie. Think Thema and Louise except that they are dudes and terminally ill and well, Thema and Louise has more of a social commentary running through it then this movie. But anyway.

Moritz Bleitreu is also in the movie and plays a thug/hit man character in a parallel storyline who gets effected by the two main characters' antics. This actor was one of the first German actors that I really took note of. He was in Lola Rennt (Run Lola Run) and you may recognize him more recently from World War Z. He was one of the doctors at the WHO center. He stayed behind and didn't brave the zombie in the infected wing with Brad. Anyway.  . .I digress.

Here is the trailer I found on YouTube for Knockin' on Heaven's Door.

I get it. It isn't the best German movie ever, but the storyline in interesting and just enough within the scope of reality that it is believable. The characters are funny and well played and the plot keeps you entertained and rooting for the them to make it to the coast.

If you are interested in practising your German, this movie is a good choice. It is a light comedy (despite the terminally ill status) and  if your German is not very strong the scenes and story are great for picking up things though context. Which always helped me when trying to improve my listening comprehension.


Saturday, November 16, 2013

Kurzzug Hält Vorn

Last night we were heading back home after meeting friends for dinner and were waiting for the Subway train to come. I noticed that there were quite a few people waiting down at the other end of the platform. When the train did arrive, it was a much shorter train then one would usually sees during the day. All the people at the far end of the track had to run down toward the front of the platform where the short train actually stopped.

It is moments like this that I take selfish pride in the fact that I understand German. And giggle a little at the tourists.

The electronic signs on the platforms, that lets you know when the next train will arrive, Also lets you know if it will be a Kurzzug, a short train, and where it will be stopping along the track. It usually stops towards the front of the platform, or towards the back and on occasion it even stops in the middle. In this case it was stopping toward the front.

der Kurzzug - the short train

kurz - short

This is intended to be helpful to those riding the subway so they don't have to sprint to catch the train even though they have been waiting there along with everyone else.

As you can see the sign says Kurzzug hält vorn, short train stops in the front.  

The Kurzzug locations are usually towards the front or the rear of the track. Midway does exits, though I have seen it only once.

vorn(e) - ahead, front, in the front

hinten - behind, back, rear

mittig - central, middle

Even if you don't understand the location. The BVG has also marked the track with black and white striped tape, which is further labelled with 'Haltebereich Kurzzug', stopping area of the short train. 

der Haltebereich - stopping area

der Bereich - area, division, sector, zone

Which is great because sometimes even though it says short train stops toward the front it may not get to close to the front as you may think and so the marked area is actually the most accurate indicator.

Next time you travel with the BVG and you have a Kurzzug coming, you can look like someone in the know and wait for the train in the right section of the track.

Friday, November 15, 2013


I am taking some German classes again and really enjoying it. I am finally at a level in German where I am not struggling to follow the teacher or my classmates. It really makes a big difference.

I learned a new word today.

One of my classmates was forming a sentence today to which the teacher remarked, “Das ist ein doppelte Verneinung.” That is a double negative.

Die Verneinung – negation

The word just jumped out at me. I liked the way it sound. It also was a pleasent surprise to me that this meaning was contained in one word, Verneinung. I would not have been surprised if the German word for 'negation' had been a more complicated compound word.

Thursday, November 14, 2013

Schnecke vs Schnecke

Creepy crawlies are about to be discussed so be warned.

I babysit a 5 year old and we have spent many an afternoon rooting around in his back yard searching for slugs and snails. I personally find them cute so this is a fun activity. We talk in English, but he usually speaks with his parents in German. One of these times his mom asked what we were doing and he had just replied that we were collecting a bunch of Schnecken and hadn't specified that it was a mix of Snails and Slugs. In German they use the same word for snail as they do for slug. Schnecke.

They do have more specific words for Slug and Snail however they don't really seem to concern themselves with clarifying between the two unless you ask.

die Schnecke - the slug
die Nacktschnecke - slug, the naked snail

die Schnecke -  the snail
die Schnecke mit Haus - the snail, the slug with a house

Ooh, now I am hungry for some Escargot!

Wednesday, November 13, 2013

Kern Energie

Um, . . . not quite what some of you may have been expecting. . . a can o' nuts!

Here is a funny play on words! It is smart and fun product name for a can of trail mix. A hearty snack.

 der Kern - core, pit, kernel, nucleus

The term 'Kern Energie' usually refers to Nuclear Energie or power. Kern means nucleus as well as core. And in this case I guess it is referring our own internal core energy. And a hearty snack to replenish your depleted core.

It is a smart use of a very controversial topic. Nuclear Energy is a big topic here in Germany. German government relatively recently decided to phases out nuclear power by 2022. It has brought up even more heated discussions. Here is an article that give you a good over view of the whole thing.

Tuesday, November 12, 2013

Wieder da!!

Ich bin wieder da!  I'm back!

wieder da sein - to be back

wieder - again

da - there