16 May, 2005

Schönen Pfingsten!

It's Pfingsten Day today so we have no classes.  Ten days ago it was Christi Himmelfahrt, so we had no classes.  I like May; school is apparently not very important this month.

Christi Himmelfahrt can be translated as the "Jesus Heaven-Travel," I'm assuming this is the Ascension.  But to Germans, the important part of this day is not that Jesus, following his resurrection from death, physically floated, body and soul, from the earth, ascended into heaven to be seated at the right hand of God the Father... No. It's beer.  Wheel barrels of it.

28 April, 2005

Du bist ein HENGST!

Amy bought a book about horses in German.  We were going through translating it and found out that the word for "Stallion" is "Hengst.  We thought it would be fun to say, "Oh, you stallion, you!" or "You're a stallion!" in German, so I told Amy that would be "Du bist ein Hengst!"

25 April, 2005


You know how sometimes people get bored of saying the same thing over and over again, so they come up with new words to express what they mean?

Well, in German, "Scheisse" means "shit," and "Schade" means something like "Too bad."  And after a while, you get sick of saying the same things over and over again, so Antti decided he would combine them to come up with his own new word:  "Scheide." 

If you speak German, you're already laughing.  If you don't, keep reading. 

09 March, 2005

Wie viele Erdteile gibt es in der Weldt?

When trying to teach a group of people another language, you have to begin with a subject that everyone knows and can agree on.  So my teacher asked the class, "How many continents are there in the world?"

Surprisingly, this is not one of those subjects.

02 March, 2005

Sherlock Holmes und der verschwundene Löffel!

When most of us think of Europe, we think of a land of a generally more accepting people.  It didn't take the national guard to desegregate schools and none of the countries are led by people who actually hate gays, and blame them for all of the problems of society.

Well, a lot of people are like that, but sometimes you come across someone who may or may not have grown up in a hole.

Möchten Sie den Menü?

In conversation with German people, I tend to rely heavily on cognates.  That is, a word that sounds the same in English as it does in German.  For example, Bett is Bed, Katze is Cat, Pflanze is Plant, Bier is Beer, Haar is Hair, and so on.

Well sometimes a word comes up that bites you in the ass because it's a freaking lying cognate.

Der Euro.

As if it's not bad enough that I cannot understand the total cost of what I am buying and must take extra time to read something that the clerk has just said to me, I must fight with the denominations the Euro comes in.

The paper money comes in denominations of 5, 10, 20, 100, and even a 200.  There's probably larger, but under no circumstance will I ever be able to hold one in my hand.

Despite the paper Euro coming in different sizes and colors, and resembling something out of a monopoly game, I can handle it well enough.  The coins, however, were forged in Hell.

Könnten Sie bitte mein Brot shießen?

Here in Germany, every time you turn around there is either a Bakery or a cell phone store.  They're both like Starbucks.  I can't imagine why there is such high demand for cell phones, but one bite of the bread and you understand why you never have to go far to get a loaf.

Usually in Germany, you just go to the bakery (any one of your choosing) and grab a loaf of the bread you want out of a pile of loaves.  These loaves are neither wrapped nor sliced, and are usually still warm.  It's wonderful.  You then take your loaf and, without a word of German necessary, you wave it in front of the clerk and they will eventually tell you how much you owe.  At this point you look at the register, because it has numbers you actually understand, and unlike the clerk, it does not speak to you in German.

03 February, 2005

Was suchst du in deimem Wörterbuch?

If you are caught looking up a word in your dictionary in my class, the teacher will ask "Was suchst du??" meaning, "What are you searching for?"  and when you tell her, she will make an attempt to convey the meaning of the word to you.  This is all good and well, but she doesn't speak any of our languages.  So the class quickly becomes an interesting game of charades.  It gets even worse when the other students who don't speak your language are the ones that understand the word, and they all start acting the word out. 

So for instance, let's say the word is Fußarzt.  The class quickly becomes a game of Catchphrase from Hell.  You have two options:  Wait till you understand the word (which is unlikely) or just say "Ach so!", look enlightened, and pretend to write the meaning of the word down in your notebook.  I usually choose the second, which sucks just as much, because the teacher will make you use the word in a sentence.  

02 February, 2005


The word in the subject, "Aschgeiger," is a relatively common German insult. 

It means "ass-violinist."

Yes.  That's right.


This is what you call someone if you don't like them.  An ass-violinist.  I hope this is one of those sayings that ends up crossing the Atlantic, because when I get back, I sure as don't want to stop calling people ass-violinist.


I've made a good number of friends in the weeks I've been here.  They are presented below in random order along with their nation of origin in brackets and a bit of info about the name's pronunciation. 

Molly:  [USA] Of all of the names below, this is by far the hardest for a German to pronounce.  She says "Molly" about twice, gives up and says "Mully," which they immediately understand. This is the Eighth Wonder of the World.

27 January, 2005


You know how it sucks when the teacher is handing back homework that you know you didn't do?  You just sit there while everyone else gets a paper and you look like a lazy ass.

Yea.  Now imagine that happening to you when you didn't know: 
    A) When the homework was turned in, and
    B) That it was even assigned to begin with.

I'VE BEEN TO CLASS EVERY FREAKING DAY, and I still somehow managed to miss her assigning the damn thing AND everyone turning it in.  Seriously, there are some major problems here.

26 January, 2005


My class is pretty interesting.  There are a lot of cool people in it.  Some from Bulgaria, Turkey, Latvia, Finland, Russia, Canada, et al. and then me, from the US.  We're always translating for each other, which is great because almost no one has the same first language.

My teacher is originally from Tajikistan, speaks about 5 different languages, and has lived in Deutschland for 17 years.  This information was all imparted to us in German, so I could have gotten it all wrong.  For all i know, she may actually be from Ohio, speaks to only 5 of her dogs, and stores 17 wedges of cheese in her closet. 

12 January, 2005


Yes. That is the German word for Bureaucracy. It also means Hell.

Like I said in a previous entry, bureaucracy here is like one of those games where you have to go through hell to get one simple thing done. If you've ever played Zelda, you know what I mean. You see, in Zelda, you have to run around and take potions places and wake up sleeping people with pocket chickens and talk to weird things and take Frogs of Power and Eyes of Newt to other people before they expire so they can give you The Stone of Delightfulness that you take to a witch and in the end you get a nut. Yea. It's like that when you try to establish residency in Germany.

06 January, 2005


As prepared as one may be for experiencing things that are different from their own culture, things always come around that just blow your mind (and/or your hairdryer).

Kulturschock Eins:  Germans.
People here speak German.

Kulturschock Zwei: Me.
I do not speak German.

Kulturschock Drei:  Combine Eins und Zwei.
Eins und Zwei combined suck when you are sitting in someone's reserved seat on a train.