You can say ‘you’ to me

When my English husband first learned German, he told me time and again of his dilemma to choose between the formal Sie and the informal du when addressing someone. To his great disappointment, I was unable to offer him a clear-cut set of rules. Let’s look at some examples and try to find out more… Read more

Magnum in distress

As most of you know, in Germany films are dubbed (see “An mein Ohr kommt nur Wasser und O-Ton”). So on TV and in most cinemas, Daniel Craig and Jennifer Lawrence speak German while their lips form English words. But of course, this being Germany, voice-overs are not services purchased randomly for each film project. No, there is method in this madness. Read on and see for yourself what this entails and why Herr Lehmann is not just a good book. Read more

Germans are everywhere

During my time in Australia, some of which I spent travelling around the country, I realised that there’s no escape. I was picturing a secluded part of the world, literally the furthest away from my home country, where I would be left in peace and have a chance to immerse myself into a different culture, completely unfettered by my roots, for a while. But no! Read more

Mogelpackung

Last week, we looked at ‘squeaky bum time’ as a potential candidate for a loan word in German. The beautiful German word ‘Mogelpackung’ would be an excellent choice for a loan word in other languages. What exactly is a Mogelpackung and what does it have to do with citrus fruit? Read more

Gobbledegook

Learners of German have quite a cross to bear. Not only are they studying a language with complicated grammar and tons of irregularities and exceptions, but they are also incessantly told so by pitying native speakers of that language. Now here’s something new. Even German has a silver lining! Read on, and I’ll let you in on a big secret. Read more

Schöne Bescherung

When days grow short and snowflakes fall (not!), many people like to snuggle up in cosy cotton and enjoy a cuppa. Others prefer to explore a different kind of Gemütlichkeit abroad. One of the big German winter tourism attractions are the Christmas markets, the most famous one being the Christkindlesmarkt in Nuremberg. But who or what is Christkindle and how do Germans celebrate Christmas? Let’s take a peek… Read more

Nimble fingers

This week’s text is a sequel to my German entry Fingerfertigkeit. Have you ever seen a German shake their fist at someone? No, I don’t mean in the menacing wait-till-I-get-you! kind of way of James Bond villains. I mean in a kind, encouraging manner, smiling and wishing the other person luck. How does the luck get into the fist is what you’re asking? You’ll find out in a minute. Read more

Very special bread!

When not only one’s heart begins to wander but one’s body eventually follows, one of the items that one misses most when roaming abroad are baking goods. They are different not only in each country but in every region. Let’s look at some German bread specialties. Read more

The land of Me

Have you ever been to a shop in Britain? It’s lovely. First off, Anglo-Saxons have a natural urge to queue. It’s like the click of a buckle – they snap into place, no elbows or headlocks involved. Just like driving in the UK, it is utterly relaxing (when you’re used to German roads). Also, checkout assistants are usually friendly and will exchange a few words or even banter with customers. You think that’s a given? Here’s your pep talk for shopping in Germany. Read more

Booty

If you live in Germany, you may have noticed that, on the evening of the 5th December, children put their boots – or sometimes just one boot – outside their front door. The next morning, these boots can mysteriously be found filled with gifts, such as a fir branch, nuts, tangerines, chocolate and one or two small presents. What is that strange custom, so shortly before Christmas? Read more