The German language

Message Bookmarked
Bookmark Removed
Why is German such a cracking good language? What's your favourite German word?

Daniel Giraffe (Daniel Giraffe), Thursday, 27 July 2006 08:15 (twelve years ago) Permalink

sehsucht

Baaderonixx immer wieder (baaderonixx), Thursday, 27 July 2006 08:22 (twelve years ago) Permalink

actually make that, sehnsucht

Baaderonixx immer wieder (baaderonixx), Thursday, 27 July 2006 08:22 (twelve years ago) Permalink

Wasserpumpe.

Matt DC (Matt DC), Thursday, 27 July 2006 08:23 (twelve years ago) Permalink

Windschutzscheibenwaschanlage.

Colin Meeder (Mert), Thursday, 27 July 2006 08:31 (twelve years ago) Permalink

Kugelschriber!

(I have no idea if I've spelled that right. But it means ballpoint pen.)

Silver Machine Manor (kate), Thursday, 27 July 2006 08:33 (twelve years ago) Permalink

Close. It's "Kugelschreiber". Mine is also a real word. Wanna guess?

Colin Meeder (Mert), Thursday, 27 July 2006 08:36 (twelve years ago) Permalink

I like Hoechstgeschwindigkeit, meaning top speed.

talking of which, one of the things I like about German is that all nouns start with a capital letter. I think it looks both exotic and dignified.

Daniel Giraffe (Daniel Giraffe), Thursday, 27 July 2006 08:37 (twelve years ago) Permalink

Colin, I think your word means windscreen wiper

Daniel Giraffe (Daniel Giraffe), Thursday, 27 July 2006 08:38 (twelve years ago) Permalink

Very close. It's the windscreen washers, actually.

Colin Meeder (Mert), Thursday, 27 July 2006 08:41 (twelve years ago) Permalink

MANNSCHAFT

Konal Doddz (blueski), Thursday, 27 July 2006 08:59 (twelve years ago) Permalink

Zwiebel

Teh littlest HoBBo (the pirate king), Thursday, 27 July 2006 09:04 (twelve years ago) Permalink

Geistlos

NickB (NickB), Thursday, 27 July 2006 09:05 (twelve years ago) Permalink

What's best about the German language is that when you have learned how each letter is pronounced, you can read any german word and you will have pronounced it properly.

mark grout (mark grout), Thursday, 27 July 2006 09:08 (twelve years ago) Permalink

isn't that the same with every language ?

AleXTC (AleXTC), Thursday, 27 July 2006 09:10 (twelve years ago) Permalink

I like how they join a load of words together to make huge nouns so you can usually work it out from a literal translation of each segment. German engineering and technical dictionaries are great for huge words that essentially mean "join all the bits together and you've got one of these."

Onimo (GerryNemo), Thursday, 27 July 2006 09:12 (twelve years ago) Permalink

isn't that the same with every language ?

Plough rough through

Onimo (GerryNemo), Thursday, 27 July 2006 09:12 (twelve years ago) Permalink

Kaiserschlacht

DV (dirtyvicar), Thursday, 27 July 2006 09:13 (twelve years ago) Permalink

hum. ok, I get the idea. it's not just german in that case, yes ?

AleXTC (AleXTC), Thursday, 27 July 2006 09:23 (twelve years ago) Permalink

entgültig

Soukesian (Soukesian), Thursday, 27 July 2006 09:32 (twelve years ago) Permalink

Winkelmesser

gentoo (gentoo), Thursday, 27 July 2006 09:52 (twelve years ago) Permalink

German words I hate: Mobbing, Handy, fighten.

Colin Meeder (Mert), Thursday, 27 July 2006 09:56 (twelve years ago) Permalink

Sprudel

StanM (StanM), Thursday, 27 July 2006 10:07 (twelve years ago) Permalink

Schadenfreude

Ben Dot (1977), Thursday, 27 July 2006 10:25 (twelve years ago) Permalink

What's best about the German language is that when you have learned how each letter is pronounced, you can read any german word and you will have pronounced it properly.

It's not exactly SO, for example the "e" is "Kaiser" is pronounced differently than in "Freund". It's easier than English though. I don't think there's a language in the world where every letter is pronounced the same way every time, though Finnish comes pretty close (with only major exception, the "ng" sound).

Tuomas (Tuomas), Thursday, 27 July 2006 10:33 (twelve years ago) Permalink

Geschwindigkeitsbegrenzung

(speed limit)

Joe (Joe), Thursday, 27 July 2006 10:43 (twelve years ago) Permalink

O WRKLK? JA WRKLK!

weather1ngda1eson (Brian), Thursday, 27 July 2006 10:45 (twelve years ago) Permalink

I don't think there's a language in the world where every letter is pronounced the same way every time

Spanish is pretty much like that. You change the sound of c and g depending on what vowel they're followed by, but that's about it.

Cathy (Cathy), Thursday, 27 July 2006 10:52 (twelve years ago) Permalink

my favourite german word and one of the only ones I know is wunderbar.

Cathy (Cathy), Thursday, 27 July 2006 10:54 (twelve years ago) Permalink

Problembar

DV (dirtyvicar), Thursday, 27 July 2006 11:08 (twelve years ago) Permalink

xpost i keep saying "wonderbra" by accident (which makes it a classic!)

brustwarze
handschuhe
krankenhaus

lieblingsfach
kunst

ken c (ken c), Thursday, 27 July 2006 11:11 (twelve years ago) Permalink

"doppelgänger" is pretty cool.
(and shouldn't it be : O WRKLCH ? YA WRKLCH !)

AleXTC (AleXTC), Thursday, 27 July 2006 11:12 (twelve years ago) Permalink

NEIN WAI!

weather1ngda1eson (Brian), Thursday, 27 July 2006 11:14 (twelve years ago) Permalink

I don't think there's a language in the world where every letter is pronounced the same way every time

mandarin? (but i guess the characters are more like words than letters)

oh and schadenfreude is indeed a good one, and xpost doppelganger

ken c (ken c), Thursday, 27 July 2006 11:15 (twelve years ago) Permalink

kaputt!

ken c (ken c), Thursday, 27 July 2006 11:16 (twelve years ago) Permalink

Mein Hund hat keine Nase!

ken c (ken c), Thursday, 27 July 2006 11:18 (twelve years ago) Permalink

oh and Ayingerbrau!!

ken c (ken c), Thursday, 27 July 2006 11:20 (twelve years ago) Permalink

You change the sound of c and g depending on what vowel they're followed by, but that's about it.

What about ll? Or j or h in the beginning of the word? Though Spanish vowels are always pronounced the same, I think.

Tuomas (Tuomas), Thursday, 27 July 2006 11:21 (twelve years ago) Permalink

xxxxxpost

I think you'll find that werkelijk = Dutch and wirklich = German, so

JA WEG

StanM (StanM), Thursday, 27 July 2006 11:25 (twelve years ago) Permalink

O WRKLCH ? YA WRKLCH ! NCHT MGLCH ! (with an eagle instead)

AleXTC (AleXTC), Thursday, 27 July 2006 11:25 (twelve years ago) Permalink

Donnerwetter! Mein Gott Im Himmel! Scheiße!!

(See, video games help you learn!)

Onimo (GerryNemo), Thursday, 27 July 2006 11:28 (twelve years ago) Permalink

rnsthft!

ken c (ken c), Thursday, 27 July 2006 11:30 (twelve years ago) Permalink

As far as I know, Japanese pronunciation is incredibly faithful to the spelling system.

I agree with Ken that the word Handschuh is a total classic.

Can we hear it for German syntax, please? e.g. Today have I heard that a man who for Germany football played has has in England to come decided.

Daniel Giraffe (Daniel Giraffe), Thursday, 27 July 2006 11:30 (twelve years ago) Permalink

What about ll? Or j or h in the beginning of the word? Though Spanish vowels are always pronounced the same, I think

yeah, a double l means a different sound to single l, and same with double r. and j and h are the same sound at the beginning of a word as they are within it - h is never pronounced, anyway.

Cathy (Cathy), Thursday, 27 July 2006 11:42 (twelve years ago) Permalink

I gather Finnish is extremely phonetic which I am sure is nice in theory but how do I learn to pronounce all of those VOOOOOWEEEEELS? Words I know in Finnish already =

KIPPIS - cheers!
Hei - hallo!
Moi moi - bye bye!
KRAPULA - HANGOVER!

Hooray!

Bhumibol Adulyadej (Lucretia My Reflection), Thursday, 27 July 2006 12:19 (twelve years ago) Permalink

"krapula" is a great word ! (especially for a french speaking person)

AleXTC (AleXTC), Thursday, 27 July 2006 12:21 (twelve years ago) Permalink

Arschkalt

DV (dirtyvicar), Thursday, 27 July 2006 12:31 (twelve years ago) Permalink

Megahammeraffentittengeil

Colin Meeder (Mert), Thursday, 27 July 2006 12:39 (twelve years ago) Permalink

CRipes, what do these words mean, DV and Colin?

Daniel Giraffe (Daniel Giraffe), Thursday, 27 July 2006 12:43 (twelve years ago) Permalink

Dreilochstute

StanM (StanM), Thursday, 27 July 2006 12:48 (twelve years ago) Permalink

Erica Specimen should be my new alias.

Benson and the Jets (ENBB), Monday, 1 June 2015 12:58 (three years ago) Permalink

i'm not sure about the reasoning behind that one. i think it should be the equivalent of 'anne sample' and the like (which you do see on anglo id-card samples); so there must be other 'jane doe' equivalents?

j., Monday, 1 June 2015 14:39 (three years ago) Permalink

There's my friend Rainer Fahrzeit, who tells you how long a trip should take if traffic is normal and you don't take breaks.

Three Word Username, Monday, 1 June 2015 14:49 (three years ago) Permalink

three months pass...

when i took a tiny bit of academic german for grad school i heard of instructors who, for feminist reasons, would not teach noun gender and would use the relevant personal pronouns indifferently (or maybe they preferred one to the others, i don't know). of course this was regarded as pedagogically dubious, radical, etc.

given its much more rigorous official standards (duden as centralized authority, uptight speakers in general etc), how has a thing like deliberate contra-grammatical shifts in pronoun usage—'they' instead of 'she' or 'he' for trans subjects or anyone who elects that it be used—been being received in german?

five years ago i taught at a private college, religiously identified but quite liberal, and never heard anything remotely in that direction from administration or anyone else. i just started teaching at a different private college, no less liberal but significantly more secular, and i got some student-elected-pronoun-usage-guidelines thrown in with all the other (optional) policy language that was dumped on me during 'onboarding'.

j., Tuesday, 29 September 2015 19:19 (three years ago) Permalink

A national newspaper in Germany (taz) uses ...Innen forms. I think it's still seen as something belonging to the left, even though, govt agencies sometimes use varieties of it.

For those who aren't familiar: there's no simple gender neutral way to refer to a group of people, e.g. the voters = die Wähler implies a group of men. There's a long neutral form: Die Wähler und Wählerinnen (the voters and voteresses), and this is sometimes abbreviated (as by taz) to WählerInnen, Wähler/innen, Wähler*innen.

I can't imagine how gender neutrality could work in speech, like, when referring to a significant other, you can't say mein/e Freund/in

Vasco da Gama, Tuesday, 29 September 2015 19:53 (three years ago) Permalink

i was always struck by the fact that job ads have to say Xer/erin

and 'eine Freundin von mir'

𝔠𝔞𝔢𝔨 (caek), Tuesday, 29 September 2015 20:06 (three years ago) Permalink

you could put a stop in there

mein…e freund…in

would be funky

j., Tuesday, 29 September 2015 20:33 (three years ago) Permalink

The plural inclusive form (WählerInnen) is gaining a fair amount of ground and is no longer strictly a form used by the Left, but it also remains controversial.

Grammatical gender is not understood as human gender -- the pronoun "es" for "das Mädchen" doesn't sound the same as calling a girl "it" would in English, pencils are not thought of as male and fountain pens are not thought of as female. It remains a little tricky for me as an English native speaker even after all these years over here.

There is feminist writing in German on gender in German, but it's not tumblriffic popular stuff.

Three Word Username, Tuesday, 29 September 2015 20:58 (three years ago) Permalink

oh right i know it's not understood that way, i just figured, that might be an illuminating parallel

i read a cantankerous academic thortpiece complaining about being asked to start using 'they' instead of 'he' or 'she' in english, and the author appealed to the grammatical unnaturalities, a lame argument but one that it seems is bound to have some traction the more widely people are asked to change language-use habits

j., Tuesday, 29 September 2015 21:04 (three years ago) Permalink

two weeks pass...

"... and do you have the name of the book you're looking for, sir?"

http://ecx.images-amazon.com/images/I/516VVPSKMWL._SX351_BO1,204,203,200_.jpg

Terry Micawber (Tom D.), Thursday, 15 October 2015 14:12 (three years ago) Permalink

four months pass...

It is full of German words.

xyzzzz__, Thursday, 10 March 2016 23:23 (two years ago) Permalink

kopfkino
weltschmerz

home organ, Thursday, 10 March 2016 23:36 (two years ago) Permalink

Great article, thanks.

Have never heard kopfkino before. Pantoffelkino though, I am familiar with.

Jesperson, I think we're lost (James Redd and the Blecchs), Thursday, 10 March 2016 23:54 (two years ago) Permalink

Aztekenexpresszuggesellschaft

SIGSALY Can't Dance (James Redd and the Blecchs), Saturday, 12 March 2016 15:06 (two years ago) Permalink

eight months pass...

Volksverhetzung

Wes Brodicus, Thursday, 8 December 2016 15:58 (two years ago) Permalink

three months pass...

Großkotz

Wes Brodicus, Tuesday, 21 March 2017 18:12 (one year ago) Permalink

one year passes...

Lebenslüge

Wes Brodicus, Friday, 20 April 2018 19:32 (seven months ago) Permalink

Ooh, Ibsen! The Norwegian word is Livsløgn.
"Tar De livsløgnen fra et gennemsnitsmenneske, så tar De lykken fra ham med det samme"

~= If you take the life-lie from the average man, you take his happiness with it.

Øystein, Monday, 23 April 2018 09:17 (seven months ago) Permalink

three weeks pass...

geschmäcklerisch
(pejorative) pretentiously faddish, arrogantly contemptuous of tastes other than one’s own

Wes Brodicus, Sunday, 20 May 2018 17:53 (six months ago) Permalink

can anyone explain the difference between "hierhin" and "hierher"?? struggling w/ this at the moment

also the position of "nicht" in a sentence :/

groovemaaan, Saturday, 2 June 2018 20:50 (six months ago) Permalink

"Hierher" points in the speaker's general direction, while "hierhin" points towards a specific place near the speaker. A politician talking about refugees would say they are coming "hierher" (to his country) but not "hierhin" (to his podium).

It's the subtlest of distinctions and most Germans use those terms interchangably.

I don't know about "nicht" because I'm a positive person.

oder doch?, Sunday, 3 June 2018 09:17 (six months ago) Permalink

thanks for your answer!

but doesn't "hin" indicate that someone is moving away from the speaker? i.e. "wohin gehst du?"
which would make "hierhin" kind of contradictory...?

groovemaaan, Sunday, 3 June 2018 15:07 (six months ago) Permalink

"Hierher" is tautological, indicating a larger area / broader meaning. Cf. "vielmehr".
Imagine the speaker pointing "hin" to a specific spot.

Good luck with hinstellen & herstellen!

oder doch?, Sunday, 3 June 2018 15:29 (six months ago) Permalink

two weeks pass...

Hai, der!

And Nobody POLLS Like Me (James Redd and the Blecchs), Monday, 18 June 2018 21:57 (five months ago) Permalink

"Hierher" points in the speaker's general direction, while "hierhin" points towards a specific place near the speaker. A politician talking about refugees would say they are coming "hierher" (to his country) but not "hierhin" (to his podium).

It's the subtlest of distinctions and most Germans use those terms interchangably.


Korean totally has this too I just forget what it is in Hangul

El Tomboto, Monday, 18 June 2018 22:48 (five months ago) Permalink

Like “here, where we are” and “here, where I am”

El Tomboto, Monday, 18 June 2018 22:49 (five months ago) Permalink

Yes, functionally it's a little like the difference between "come here" and "come to me".

Three Word Username, Tuesday, 19 June 2018 06:39 (five months ago) Permalink

Japanese also has this distinction but in the other direction: それ “that” for things closer to the lister and あれ “that” for things far way from both speaker and listener.

Just landed in Munich and was complemented on my german by the immigration officer.

American Fear of Pranksterism (Ed), Tuesday, 19 June 2018 12:02 (five months ago) Permalink

Spanish has the same thing you mention Ed, with 'este, ese, aquel' being 'this, that, that over there' (plus other corresponding forms eg esta, esos, aquellas etc).

brain (krakow), Tuesday, 19 June 2018 12:42 (five months ago) Permalink

The Plain People of Ireland: Isn’t the German very like the Irish? Very guttural and so on?
Myself: Yes.
The Plain People of Ireland: People say that the German language and the Irish language is very guttural tongues.
Myself: Yes.
The Plain People of Ireland: The sounds is all guttural do you understand.
Myself: Yes.
The Plain People of Ireland: Very guttural languages the pair of them the Gaelic and the German.

oder doch?, Tuesday, 26 June 2018 21:34 (five months ago) Permalink

Frühlingstagundnachtgleiche

Uncle Redd in the Zingtime (James Redd and the Blecchs), Wednesday, 4 July 2018 16:16 (five months ago) Permalink

I have been enjoying hearing newspeople talk about the SPD, because it sounds to me like "sbd", which Beavis & Butthead fans at least will appreciate

droit au butt (Euler), Wednesday, 4 July 2018 16:43 (five months ago) Permalink

four weeks pass...

So the word “leutselig” seems to be normally translated as “affable” but the usually reliable dict.cc has an added usage

leutselig sein gegen jdn.
to condescend to sb.

Can’t seem to find this anywhere else. Can a native or fluent speaker comment?

3-Way Tie (For James Last) (James Redd and the Blecchs), Wednesday, 1 August 2018 14:50 (four months ago) Permalink

Ah, Langenscheidt says “condescending (in a friendly way)”

3-Way Tie (For James Last) (James Redd and the Blecchs), Wednesday, 1 August 2018 14:54 (four months ago) Permalink

I don't know that usage, and really hate Langenscheidt. I'll ask around.

Three Word Username, Wednesday, 1 August 2018 15:24 (four months ago) Permalink

I always thought "leutselig" means "affable"; if you add condescension, you're "gönnerhaft." According to Duden leutselig means "wohlwollend, von einer verbindlichen, Anteil nehmenden Freundlichkeit im Umgang mit Untergebenen und einfacheren Menschen" (affable towards people of lower rank or social status).

The Wikipedia entry for Leutseligkeit sheds some light: the definition of "Leute" has shifted much in the same way "common people" has, so leutselig today means "friendly towards your fellow man" when it used to be closer to "fraternizing with the plebes."

oder doch?, Thursday, 2 August 2018 07:10 (four months ago) Permalink

three weeks pass...

Thanks for the help with “leutselig.“ Today’s question has to do with the proper way(s) to say “What’s-his-name” and “Peter so-and-so.”

The Vermilion Sand Reckoner (James Redd and the Blecchs), Sunday, 26 August 2018 18:30 (three months ago) Permalink

I see Dingsbums or just Dings in the dictionary but I have never really used or come across these before.

The Vermilion Sand Reckoner (James Redd and the Blecchs), Sunday, 26 August 2018 18:34 (three months ago) Permalink

What’s-his-name = wie-hieß-er-noch
So-and-so = soundso
Dings/Dingsbums is reserved for inanimate objects, for people it's Dingens/Dingenskirchen.

oder doch?, Monday, 27 August 2018 00:12 (three months ago) Permalink

That’s perfect, thanks!

The Vermilion Sand Reckoner (James Redd and the Blecchs), Monday, 27 August 2018 00:27 (three months ago) Permalink

two months pass...

nach wie vor

groovemaaan, Friday, 23 November 2018 19:47 (three weeks ago) Permalink

It means “we for natch”

F# A# (∞), Friday, 23 November 2018 19:49 (three weeks ago) Permalink

naw wir gegen es mayne

j., Friday, 23 November 2018 19:52 (three weeks ago) Permalink

seriously this fkn language

groovemaaan, Friday, 23 November 2018 20:14 (three weeks ago) Permalink

https://www.nytimes.com/2018/12/05/world/europe/merkel-storm-translation-germany.html

Speaking at a technology conference on Tuesday, Ms. Merkel, known as a staid, no-drama politician, told a self-deprecating anecdote about being widely mocked online five years ago after she described the internet as some mysterious expanse of “uncharted territory.”

She chuckled at the memory of the digital blowback.

“It generated quite a shitstorm,” she said, using the English term — because Germans, it turns out, do not have one of their own.

j., Thursday, 6 December 2018 11:46 (one week ago) Permalink

Donaudampfschifffahrtsgesellschaftskapitän

Learned in school, never forgotten.

Bimlo Horsewagon became Wheelbarrow Horseflesh (aldo), Thursday, 6 December 2018 11:57 (one week ago) Permalink

Um sie den Arm geschlungen zag,
sprach er mit sanftem Zungenschlag,
was war das für ein Schlangenzug,
der mich in deine Zangen schlug.

maximum waste and minimum joy (oder doch?), Friday, 7 December 2018 01:16 (one week ago) Permalink

Es war einmal ein Leibesriese,
der machte eine Liebesreise.
Des Abends sprach er: „Reib es, Liese!“
Und Liese kam und rieb es leise.

maximum waste and minimum joy (oder doch?), Friday, 7 December 2018 01:32 (one week ago) Permalink


You must be logged in to post. Please either login here, or if you are not registered, you may register here.