The land of tailor-made terms

One of the many reasons I love the English language is that it allows for almost unlimited interchangeable usage of word classes. You can turn a noun into a verb (‘to pool’) and vice versa (‘mix-up’) – and even combine the two! (While this is grammatically true for my native language, German is far less tolerant of neologisms.) Here are some examples of inspiring English ‘noun-adjectives’… Read more

The foodie trap

As you may have guessed, the realm of culinary delight is an area I am fond to delve into. But like in any other field, there are countless ‘unknowns.’ As an interpreter, one often has to translate restaurant menus ‒ a bloody minefield! I can’t tell sole from plaice even in my native language to start with. Here are some other examples of food-related pitfalls. Read more

The Pout

Every culture has gestures or facial expressions that have a meaning even without words. Every person brought up in a particular culture (or having spent a sufficient amount of time in it) will understand them. For example, Italians are particularly renowned for underlining their utterances by countless gestures (please find examples here). However, in a foreign culture, one will at times encounter non-verbal communication one can’t quite locate… Read more

The naked truth

When I was fifteen, I went on a school exchange to Villa Park near Los Angeles in the USA. One day, I remember chatting, unceremoniously as one does, about going to the sauna in Germany – my parents had one at home that we used regularly. The expression of total shock and horror on the American students’ faces when I told them that we go there in the nude! Then uncontrollable giggling. They asked me a million questions about it. They could not believe it! And when they eventually did, they didn’t buy that it was nothing sexual. Read more

The plait scale

There are several reasons for this week’s revelation. One, it’s an act of reprisal: my husband hijacked my Facebook page the other day, so I’m hijacking his idea. Two, I’m on a rescue mission. This fascinating observation on the German culture is otherwise likely to pass into oblivion as it’s safe to assume that the blog my magnificent other was going to launch won’t be launched for another 150 years or so. (In case it does I herewith officially recognise his intellectual property rights.) So let’s learn about the mysterious plait scale… Read more

Sizzling efficiency

Germans are renowned for their efficiency. We don’t ‘fart-arse around’, as my English husband would say. We get things done. The same is true for our language. Often, my husband asks something like, ‘What’s this word in English?’ (‘this word’ being anything from ‘Ausfahrt’ to ‘Zollstock’). Having got past the first obstacle (the initial reply any translator will offer, i.e. ‘It depends on the context’), he is frequently surprised to find that there is not a clear-cut, one-word English equivalent. Let’s look at another example… Read more

What a load of buzz

The other day I witnessed an incident or, shall we say, an ‘act of communication’ that made me think of a certain type of office game. I was sitting in a café in Cologne when a group of businesspeople walked in. As they had turned up late, the table they had booked had been given away. This prompted one of the ‘suits’ to ask whether it was still possible to find room for six. Only, he didn’t say ‘possible’. Read more

Berrying 101

Yes, Sir, I can berry. Well, at least if I’m a speaker of US American English. Intriguingly, the Americans can transform anything into a verb (this process is called ‘verbing’). So Yanks can breakfast, they can shower and they can berry (aka ‘pick berries’). Even though they can’t berry, the Brits, just like the Americans, love blueberry muffins. (By the way, can you ‘blueberry-muffin’? ‘What did you do during the coffee break?’ – ‘I blueberry-muffined. Yummie!’) Let’s find out what the deal is with Germans and blueberries… Read more

Who is Hermann?

We all know who Horst is by now. But who or what is Hermann? This similarly typical – I’m tempted to say ‘clichéd’ – German name holds many secrets. The most grassroots one of them shall be revealed today exclusively to you, dear faithful readers of the Pommes Buddha blog. Read more

Fucking hell

I’m terribly sorry if this title offends you, but, in my defence, it is not what you think it is. This week’s story, which is related to a subject discussed here in all seriousness before, starts in a village in Austria situated 33 kilometres north of Salzburg. Just like a considerable number of other places in Bavaria and Austria, its name ends in –ing. Can you guess what the first part is? Read more