Saturday, July 10, 2010
Friday, July 2, 2010
Tuesday, May 25, 2010
For all of you anxious to get the answers to last week's quiz on German Directness, you will find them here:
Glühbirne: glowing pear = light bulb
Kühlschrank: cool cabinet = refrigerator
Handschuhe: hand shoes = gloves
Fahrstuhl: riding chair = elevator
Fingerhut: finger hat = thimble
Unkraut: not an herb = a weed
Zahnfleisch: tooth flesh = gums
Blinddarm: blind/dummy intestine = appendix
Gehirnerschütterung: brain jolting/shaking = concussion
Durchfall: fall through = diarrhea
Gelbsucht: yellow addiction (ailment) = jaundice
Nacktschnecke: naked snail = slug
Stinktier: stink animal = skunk
Nashorn: nose horn = rhinoceros
Hundertfüßer: hundred footer = centipede
Waschbär: wash bear = raccoon
Nilpferd/Flusspferd: Nile/River horse = hippopotamus
Vorfreude: pre-joy = anticipation
Muskelkater: muscle hangover = muscle soreness you experience the day after a hard workout
Brustwarze: breast wart = nipple
Staubsauger: dust sucker = vacuum cleaner
Ausweglosigkeit: state of having no way out = hopelessness
Vorstandsvorsitzender: in a company, the one who stands in front of those who sit in front = the chairman of the board
Thanks to everyone who played, and double thanks to everyone who posted their best guesses. Lots of right answers, and many of you seem ready to take the plunge and enroll in a German course of your own.
Wednesday, May 19, 2010
Germans are known for being direct and straightforward, especially in comparison to us equivocating Americans. I’ve found this to be generally true. They say what they mean. They mean what they say. Punkt. But this cultural directness is also amazingly reflected in the German language. Take, for instance, our word ambulance. If you didn’t know the English word, there’s nothing about it that suggests what it is. Conversely, the German word is Krankenwagen, which just the two words Kranken (“the sick”) + wagen (“car”), or simply “sick car.” I’ve had plenty of “duh” moments this year when I get hung up because I don’t know the word for a concept like “progress” only to be told it’s Fortschritt, meaning literally a “step forth.” But conversely, I feel rather proud when I see a word for the first time like gleichzeitig (literally “same-time-ly”) and correctly guess that it’s the German word for “simultaneous.” Or unumgänglich ("un-go-about-able”), or as we would say, "essential." So really, this linguistic directness is surprisingly quite helpful to the German learner. You also get a sense of that directness from the compound words posted earlier this week. Being the ultimate über-nerd, I have spent much of the year writing down funny examples of this linguistic directness. And now, dear friends, to show you how this plays out on a daily basis here in Deutschland, it’s time for a little game. I’ll give you the German word and its direct translation, and you come up with our convoluted, non-descriptive, English word. C’mon, it’ll be fun and worth a few laughs, I promise! I’ll post the answers in a couple days.
Example: Krankenwagen: sick wagen = ambulance
Glühbirne: glowing pear =
Kühlschrank: cool cabinet =
Handschuhe: hand shoes =
Fahrstuhl: riding chair =
Fingerhut: finger hat =
Unkraut: not an herb =
Zahnfleisch: tooth flesh =
Blindarm: blind/dummy intestine =
Gehirnerschütterung: brain jolting/shaking =
Durchfall: fall through (ailment) =
Gelbsucht: yellow addiction (ailment) =
Nacktschnecke: naked snail =
Stinktier: stink animal =
Nashorn: nose horn =
Hundertfüßer: hundred footer =
Waschbär: wash bear =
Nilpferd/Flusspferd: Nile/River horse =
Vorfreude: pre-joy =
Muskelkater: muscle hangover =
Brustwarze: breast wart =
Staubsauger: dust sucker =
Ausweglosigkeit: state of having no way out =
Vorstandsvorsitzender: in a company, the one who stands in front of those who sit in front =
Viel Spaß!!! (Have fun!!!)
Sunday, May 16, 2010
Wednesday, May 12, 2010
If you’re going to be in Berlin in the warmer months then make time to head out to Britzer Garden. It’s a bit of a ride (an uncomplicated one) but worth the travel. The garden is beautiful, huge and a perfect way to spend a sunny afternoon. There are cafes, a train to ride, a model boat harbor, lovely ponds, and fields for frolicking. The best time to go is in either May or October when the garden puts on celebrations of dahlias and tulips. In October you'd see these lovely dahlias (+ 10,000 more):
and in May, it's the tulips:
As for museums: If you’re only going to make it to one, go to the Pergamon Museum. Get the free audio guide and plan on being there a couple of hours. Everything in the museum seems over-sized. You’ll spend a lot of time looking up and stepping back to take it all in.
If you have time in your schedule, go out to Dahlem and visit the Ethnography museum. This museum is quiet and cheap; the collection is total eye-candy and wildly fascinating. I can’t sing it’s praises enough. Hey, while you’re in Dahlem, walk down the main street to the Botanical Gardens. There are a dizzying number of plant species in the greenhouses and the grounds are lovely.
Eat Eis (gelato). Eat lots of it. Try several different Eis places to find your favorite. If you’re in the neighborhood of Nollendorfplatz, stop by Fredo’s Eis stand - it’ll blow your mind and the service will make you smile.
If you’re in Berlin on a Saturday or Wednesday go east to Hohenschönhausen. It’s a former Stasi prison that provides perhaps the most eye-opening look at what life was like in the DDR. Most tours are led by former prisoners and though it’s a sobering tour, it’s absolutely worth your time. (English tours are only offered on Saturdays and Wednesdays - check the website for times.)
Eat well. Berlin is a great place to eat out because there's a little bit of everything and it's relatively inexpensive. I don’t usually like to recommend food (because inevitably you might not like it) but there are two restaurants we keep going back to and we think they should be added to your list of eateries! For Prussian-style German food go to Der Alte Fritz. It’s authentic, conveniently located at Alexanderplatz, not outrageously priced and there is English on the menu. Portions are huge. You won’t be disappointed. For Turkish food go to Hasir. (There are several locations around the city - I would suggest the one in Schöneberg so that you can stop by Fredo's on the way home for dessert.) These are the folks that invented döner and they do an amazing döner plate. Order a carafe of red wine, get the fried fetta appetizer, and when they offer you tea after your meal, get it! Come hungry and you'll leave full.
Monday, May 10, 2010
Go up into the Reichstag. It’s free!!! It’s going to be insanely crowded in the morning and early afternoon, but you can almost be assured of interesting people-watching while you’re in line. To avoid lines it’s a good idea to go in the late afternoon, but the best bet is to go after the sun has gone down. The city is lovely all lit up and during the summer heat, you’ll avoid baking in the glass dome. Get the free audio guide!!!
From the Reichstag, make sure you go around the corner and see the Brandenburg Gate. It’s iconic. It’s picture-worthy and there are always street-performers in front.
Walk around and through the Memorial to the Murdered Jews of Europe. Get lost among the stones. Visit the free museum that’s under the memorial.
If you’ve got some time on a Sunday head to Mauerpark. There you’ll find a rambling flea market crawling with locals and tourists alike. It’s busy, crowded and full of junk but I also think it offers one of the most honest pictures of Berlin. People of all ilk abound. Food and drinks are sold from little stands. Outside the market (if the weather is good) you’ll find families, couples, musicians, and groups of friends lounging on the grass. On one side of the park you’ll notice a mass of humanity gathered in the outdoor amphitheater. That’s Bear Pit Karaoke - an open air, open to the public songfest that happens every week. Grab a beer and join the crowds; it won’t be the best singing you’ve ever heard but it will be entertaining. (Ampelhead did a wonderful job covering this phenomenon a while back!)
Go to the East Side Gallery. This is so much more than graffiti. My suggestion would be to start on the Ostbahnhof side, walk the length of the wall and then turn right, cross the river by walking the beautiful Oberbaum bridge and follow the U-bahn tracks to the Schlesiches Tor stop. Wander this section of Kreuzberg - you’ll find delicious döner, coffee and eis and lots of interesting shops.
Go to one of the city parks - either the Tiergarten or Volkspark Friedrichshain. Excellent people watching. Excellent paths to wander. Excellent place to ride bikes. (Hey, take a Fat Tire Bike Tour.) Excellent spot to eat and drink. Just excellent.
Visit the Berliner Dom. Yes, it costs a few euros to get in, but you'll never see another Protestant church quite like it. Take the time to go down into the crypt. It's creepy, but interesting. If you can see a concert in the cathedral, that's probably the best way to fully take in the statues, the frescoes, the immensity, the organ, the beauty.