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Subjects, Fields, and Disciplines

We know you're learning German, but what other subjects have you studied? Even if you're not currently in school, it's always interesting to talk with people about what they studied, and which subjects are still relevant to their lives today. 

 

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First, we can start with the natural sciences and the applied sciences, respectively called die Naturwissenschaften and die angewandten Wissenschaften in German. 

 

Jan hat heute seine Physikarbeit zurückbekommen.

Jan got his physics paper back today. 

Caption 2, The Simple Physics: Schrödingers Katze

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Ja, das ist Mathematik oder Mathe.

Yes, this is mathematics or math.

Caption 8, Deutsch mit Eylin: Denk schnell!

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...das heißt wir gewinnen zusätzlich noch in dem Bereich Biologie auch eine gewisse Kapazität.

...which means we also gain a certain capacity in the field of biology.

Caption 40, Für Tierfreunde: Przewalski-Wildpferde

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Ich habe schnell gemerkt, dass mich Elektrotechnik sehr interessiert

I quickly noticed that electrical engineering really interests me.

Caption 10, Deutsche Welle: Lieber Ausbildung als Studium

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In these next captions, you will find some fields that relate to the social sciences, or die Sozialwissenschaften, and the world of business. 

 

Ja? Das wäre so eine Geschichte, ähm, mit interdisziplinärem Input aus der Sportwissenschaft, der Sportmedizin, der Psychologie und der Soziologie.

Yes? That would be something, um, with interdisciplinary input from sport sciences, sports medicine, psychology, and sociology.

Captions 65-66, TEDx: Lebenslange Fitness

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Ich hab schon in Spanien zwei Semester Jura studiert.

I already studied law in Spain for two semesters.

Caption 7, Nicos Weg: Am Bankautomaten

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Ich studiere Wirtschaft und arbeite in einem Café.

I study economics and work in a café.

Caption 27, Magie: Die Zaubershow

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The humanities, or die Geisteswissenschaften, include history, languages, literature, philosophy, and often the arts as well. For more on the arts, you can refer to two recent lessons, one which covered the visual arts, and the other on the performing arts

 

Kunstgeschichte wird ja von Kunsthistorikern gemacht. Da haben Sie recht, das waren immer Männer.

Art history is written by art historians. You are right about that, those were always men.

Caption 25, Malerei: Impressionistinnen

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Interessierst du dich für Literatur?

Are you interested in literature?

Caption 9, Nicos Weg: Das macht mir Spaß!

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Further Learning
Based on what you read above and have found on Yabla German, see if you can figure out the meanings of the following: die Politikwissenschaft, die Kulturwissenschaft, die Religionswissenschaft. Some disciplines, like die Philosophiedie Geografie, die Geologie, die Anthropologie, or die Medizin, have similar names to their English counterparts and may be easy to identify. And then, of course, some subjects have simply adopted the English term, such as das Marketing and das Management.

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The Easter Holidays in German

In a previous Yabla lesson, we discussed Easter traditions in Germany. Today, let's talk about the German names of the main Easter holidays. Easter, a Christian commemoration of the resurrection of Christ, is called Ostern in German. It's a neuter noun, but is usually written and spoken without a definite or indefinite article, in the same way that we don't usually say "the Easter" or "an Easter" in English.

 

Easter is a week-long religious celebration with major and minor days of celebration. This week is called Karwoche ("Holy Week"). The term has nothing to do with automobiles, but stems rather from the now-obsolete 17th-century German word kara, which means "grief, sorrow, or lamentation." The first major day of celebration is Palm Sunday:

 

Am Palmsonntag steht eine große Messe auf dem Programm.

On Palm Sunday, a large mass is on the schedule.

Captions 9-10, Papst Franziskus: Der neue Papst hat viel zu tun

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The next four Easter days are not celebrated and not official holidays in Germany: Ostermontag, Osterdienstag, and Ostermittwoch (Easter Monday, Easter Tuesday, and Easter Wednesday). Maundy Thursday, also commonly called Holy Thursday, commemorates the Last Supper of Christ: Gründonnerstag, literally "Green Thursday." This day is not an official holiday in Germany, so Cettina and Sabine can still go out dancing without fear of Tanzverbot:

 

Da wir heute erst Gründonnerstag haben, gehen wir jetzt eine Runde tanzen und verabschieden uns von euch.

Since it's only Holy Thursday, we'll now go dance a bit and say goodbye to you.

Captions 71-72, Cettina und Sabine: Ostern

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The next Easter day is an official holiday in Germany, Karfreitag or Good Friday, commemorating the crucifixion of Christ.

 

Der Karfreitag ist ein Fasten- und Abstinenztag.

Good Friday is a day of fasting and abstinence.

Caption 65, Cettina und Sabine: Ostern

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The next day, Holy Saturday, is called Karsamstag in German, and is meant in Christian theology to mark the descent of Christ into Hell. It is not an official holiday in Germany either.

 

The last day of Easter is the most important: Easter Sunday, called Ostersonntag or simply Ostern. This is when, according to Christian belief, Christ was resurrected from the dead. It's surprisingly not an official holiday in Germany (except for Brandenburg), because most shops are closed and most people don't go to work on Sundays anyway. Official work-free holidays are decided in Germany on the state rather than national level.

 

Der Ostersonntag gehört zu den Höhepunkten der Osterfeierlichkeiten bei den Katholiken.

Easter Sunday is one of the highlights of Easter celebrations among Catholics.

Captions 16-17, Papst Franziskus: Der neue Papst hat viel zu tun

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The day after Easter is an official holiday in Germany and is commonly called Ostermontag, although the religious Easter Monday took place the week before.

 

Further Learning
Go to Yabla German and watch Cettina und Sabine: Ostern and Ostern mit Eva to get a full overview of the Easter holidays in Germany. Happy holidays from Yabla!

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German Animal Expressions, Part II

German, like many languages, uses a lot of idioms referring to animals. You've probably heard some similar English expressions like "I'm in the dog house," or "to let the cat out of the bag."  Let's take a look today at some more German animal expressions, as continued from Part I.

 

Mann, du schläfst ja wie ein Bär!

Man, you sleep like a bear!

Caption 21, Meine Freundin Conni: Conni schläft im Kindergarten

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You occasionally see the idiom "to sleep like a bear" in English, but the far more common phrase is "to sleep like a log." Bears hibernate much of the winter, thus it means to sleep very deeply. Logs don't sleep at all, of course, but it suggests a person is sleeping so deeply and heavily that they resemble a log.

 

Sie will wissen, wie der Hase läuft.
She wants to be more experienced.

 

The literal translation is "to know how the hare runs." The expression has nothing to do with speed (hares being fast runners), but rather with the knowledge of knowing how they run so quickly. Thus the idiom means to have experience, knowledge, or wisdom. This is related to the next expression:

 

Du bist ein alter Hase.

You are very experienced.

Caption 33, Oskar: Gehen, wenn es am schönsten ist

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"To be an old hare" means you have a lot of experience, and is similar to the English expression "an old hand."

 

Judith hat doch hier mit ihrem Projekt fabulös die Kuh vom Eis geholt.

After all, Judith has, with her project here, saved the situation fabulously.

Captions 27-28, Lerchenberg: Sascha hautnah

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The literal translation is "to fetch the cow from the ice," meaning to have saved a precarious situation from disaster. Cows, as we saw in the previous lesson, are widely considered to be stupid animals, so it's no surprise that such sayings have them wandering out onto thin ice!

 

Ich bin tierisch reich.

I'm very rich.

Caption 15, Die Prinzen_ Alles nur geklaut

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Victorian English, at least judging from period films, made common use of the term "beastly" as an idiom meaning "very." So you'll have an Arctic explorer on the verge of freezing to death saying something like "I say, old chap, it's beastly cold up here!" The word sounds strange to modern ears, however, and is best translated with the simple "very."

 

Further Learning
Go to Yabla German and watch the above videos to get a better idea of the contexts in which they have been used. You can also search the Redensarten-Index for more animal expressions. It's a good site to bookmark if you come across a German idiom whose meaning isn't clear!

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Opening and Closing

At one point, we wrote a lesson on the difference between eröffnen and öffnen. The verb öffnen is basically what it sounds like, while the verb eröffnen can also be used with non-physical entities that can be "opened," as well as something that is established or instituted.

 

When it comes to closing something, you probably know the word schließen. And just as aufmachen can substitute for öffnen, zumachen is another verb used to talk about closing something. 

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Jetzt schließe ich meinen Koffer.

Now, I'll close my suitcase.

Caption 22, Christiane: fährt in den Urlaub

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Die Polizei sagt, er solle seinen Kofferraum aufmachen.

The police officer says he should open his trunk.

Caption 4, Sabine erzählt Witze: Die Pinguine

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Wenn keine Tür da ist, kann man sie auch nicht zumachen.

If there is no door, you can't close it either.

Caption 26, Piggeldy und Frederick: Haus

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That is all relatively simple, but when it comes to locking and unlocking something like a door, there are many more verbs you can use, such as aufschließen, zuschließen, verschließen, and abschließen. The first two are similar to aufmachen and zumachen, but would refer to something that is shut very securely or locked. You may know the verb abschließen as "to finish" or "to conclude," but it can also mean "to lock up." Interestingly, aufgeschlossen is also an adjective used to describe a person being "open" or "receptive."

 

Frankreich plant nachzuziehen und auch London will aufschließen.

France plans to follow suit and London wants to open [its financial markets] up as well.

Caption 41, Frankfurt wird Handelszentrum für die chinesische Währung Yuan

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Die Schachtel ist total sicher verschlossen.

The box is completely and securely shut.

Caption 58, The Simple Physics: Schrödingers Katze

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Also, die Leute sind sehr aufgeschlossen.

Well, the people are very receptive.

Caption 7, Eva Croissant: Interview

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It then gets even more specific, with verbs like entriegeln and entsperren, which could also mean "unlatch" or "unbolt." 

 

Maik gibt den vierstelligen Code ein und entriegelt das Schloss.

Maik enters the four-digit code and unlocks the lock.

Caption 28, Fußballspieler Maik Franz: "Call a Bike"

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Further Learning
You can find many examples of these verbs on Yabla German, which is the best way to understand the nuances in their meaning. You can also look up the list of possible translations for each verb with an online dictionary like leo.org to get a sense of this as well. While you're at it, consider aufsperren and zusperren, two additional verbs more often used in Southern Germany. Based on the other verbs you have learned, what do you think these mean?

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German Animal Expressions, Part I

German, like many languages, uses a lot of idioms referring to animals. You've probably heard the English expression "I'm hungry as a horse" or the term "snail mail." What these expressions have in common in all languages is that they refer to some quality that is associated in that culture with a specific animal: Horses eat a lot of food and snails move very slowly—always compared to humans, of course. Let's take a look today at some German animal expressions.

 

Wohl aufs falsche Pferd gesetzt, hm?

Probably bet on the wrong horse, hm?

Caption 19, Marga Engel schlägt zurück Der Engel von Leipzig

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This one is easy, because English has the same saying with the same meaning: "to make a wrong decision," or "to support something that failed." It comes from racetrack betting or investing in a racehorse.

 

Wisst ihr, was ich der blöden Kuh gesagt habe?

Do you know what I said to the stupid cow?

Caption 28, Weihnachtsfilm Ein Sack voll Geld

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Cows are always being accused of being stupid, but since it's usually male humans who call women "stupid cows," perhaps it's really such men who are stupidly sexist. Thankfully, this awful expression in English is mostly confined to Britain, an island just outside of Europe. Sadly, the Germans seem to have adopted it—though perhaps it was the Germanic Saxons who first introduced it to Britain after all!

 

Sind die dummen Esel die Menschen und die richtigen Esel die Tiere?

Are the dumb donkeys the people and the real donkeys the animals?

Caption 15, Piggeldy und Frederick Der Esel

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If you call somebody an Esel in German, it means you think they are stupid or stubborn, similar to the English phrase "as stubborn as a mule." Mules are half donkey and half horse, of course. Piggeldy is making the point that perhaps it's humans who are dumb, and not donkeys. But of course Piggeldy is only a cartoon pig. Speaking of which...

 

„Wir haben ganz schön Schwein gehabt", sagte Frederick,

"We were very lucky," said Frederick,

Caption 33, Piggeldy und Frederick Reise nach Schweinebrück

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The literal translation of Schwein haben is "to have a swine" (or "pig"), but it means "to be very lucky." The saying apparently comes from old German festivals of marksmanship, where the worst shot was given a piglet as a consolation prize. So despite Schwein being a common German insult, the pig was considered a valuable possession in earlier times and thus meant business income and luck.

 

„Gibt es viele arme Schweine?“, fragte Piggeldy.

"Are there lots of poor swine?" Piggeldy asked.

Caption 21, Piggeldy und Frederick Arm

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Piggeldy, a cartoon pig, is literally asking if there are a lot of "poor swine" in the world. The joke intended here is that armes Schwein, figuratively spoken, means a person who is worthy of sympathy, as something bad has happened to them. Thus, Piggeldy is also asking if there are a lot of unfortunate people. It's similar to the English expressions "poor bastard," "poor wretch," or "poor devil."

 

Further Learning
Go to Yabla German and watch the above videos to get a better idea of the contexts in which they have been used. And remember, it's rude to call somebody a blöde Kuh, but it can show sympathy if you call somebody an armes Schwein. Funny isn’t it, how in German, calling somebody a pig can be a nice thing!

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A not-so-difficult newsletter

In English, we have the words "simple," "easy," "difficult," and "hard." German similarly has its own adjectives with nuanced meanings. You have likely seen einfach used both as an adjective most often meaning either "simple," "basic," or "easy," and also as an adverb meaning "simply," "basically," or "just." 

 

Im Grunde ist es also ganz einfach.

So basically it's quite simple.

Caption 34, Deutsch mit Eylin: Doppellaute

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Natürlich kann man auch einfach nur spazieren gehen.

Of course, one can also simply just go for a walk.

Caption 10, Berlin: Eva im Viktoriapark

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The adjective schwierig can also mean "tricky" more than truly hard or difficult. 

 

Und es ist schwierig, diese Dinge anzusprechen.

And it is difficult to talk about things.

Caption 37, Die Wohngemeinschaft: Probleme

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You may have noticed that the same adjectives used to describe weight apply to ease and difficulty. The adjective leicht  also means "light" (again, this is in terms of weight, not in terms of color, which would be hell). The adjective schwer has a whole host of meanings, including "heavy," "difficult," "severe," "grave," and "arduous." 

 

Sie bleiben gerne in der Deckung umgestürzter Bäume, wo sie der Hecht nicht so leicht erwischt.

They like to stay under the cover of fallen trees, where the pike can't catch them so easily.

Captions 17-18, Alpenseen: Kühle Schönheiten

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„Nichts leichter als das“, antwortete Frederick.

"Nothing easier than that!" answered Frederick.

Caption 4, Piggeldy und Frederick: Aufräumen

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Die können sich noch an andere schwere Zeiten erinnern.

They can still remember other difficult times.

Caption 11, Angela Merkel: Solidarität der Generationen in Coronakrise

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Clueso lässt sich immer noch schwer einordnen.

Clueso still remains difficult to categorize.

Caption 41, Clueso: ist endlich erwachsen

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Sie sehen als Erste die Kranken und wie schwer manche Verläufe der Infektion sind.

You are the first to see the sick and how severe some courses of the infection are.

Captions 6-7, Coronavirus: Fernsehansprache von Angela Merkel

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There's one more word that should be mentioned, which is the adjective simpel. Be careful: this word does mean "simple," but is also used negatively to express that something is simplistic or limited. 

 

Es ist eigentlich ganz simpel.

It is actually very simple.

Caption 34, Deutschkurs in Tübingen: Verben der 2. Kategorie

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Further Learning
When you see one of these adjectives in a sentence on Yabla German, ask yourself whether one of the others could be swapped in. Sometimes something will be either leicht, einfach, or simpel, but not all three, and the same goes for schwierig and schwer

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English Words Adopted from German

English, as a Germanic language, has many words that are originally derived from German. Many of these words have had their roots in the English language for over a thousand years, but there are also German words that have been adopted by English speakers much more recently. Let's take a look at some of these German latecomers today!

 

The German noun die Angst, as used in the phrase Angst vor etwas haben, is commonly translated as "to be scared," "to be afraid," or "to be frightened," but only occasionally as the English word "angst." The reason for this is that the English word is often used in a more intellectual context when writing about art, sociology, or psychology. In English, it's not merely "being afraid" in the German sense of Angst haben, but rather, as the Oxford dictionary describes it, "a feeling of deep anxiety or dread, typically an unfocused one about the human condition or the state of the world in general." English seems to have adopted "angst" in order to give it a meaning far more specific than plain old "being afraid."

 

Die typischen deutschen Gerichte sind immer so einfach. Bratwurst, Currywurst, alles immer mit Wurst.

The typical German dishes are always so simple. Bratwurst, currywurst, everything always with wurst.

Captions 31-33, Nicos Weg: Essen gehen

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As you see above, the English versions of the German nouns follow English rules for lowercase capitalization. A good code-switching pun—if there is such a thing as a good pun—will take us from bad to Wurst. Actually, since "wurst" is English too, it's not even code-switching unless you capitalize the noun and format it as italics!

 

Dort auf der von ihm legendär besungenen geilen Meile Reeperbahn steht seit mehr als einem Jahr sein Doppelgänger aus Wachs.

There on the lecherous Reeperbahn mile, which he famously sung about, his doppelgänger made of wax has been standing for more than one year.

Captions 13-14, 65 Jahre: Udo Lindenberg

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According to Merriam-Webster, the preferred American English spelling of this is with the umlaut ä, though doppelganger with a standard English "a" is also an accepted spelling. The Brits, however, want nothing to do with an umlaut—another German word found in English by the way—and only accept the spelling "doppelganger." Well, more umlauts for us Americans then!

 

Auf der Konsumgütermesse Tendence in Frankfurt dominiert Kitsch viele Stände.

At the consumer products trade show "Tendence" in Frankfurt, kitsch dominates many booths.

Caption 2, Auftrumpfen: Mit Kitsch und Protz

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Back when I was a kid in the last millennium or before, a friend of mine with German parents showed me one of his parent's German books about kitsch, and a new word entered our everyday vocabulary. It made us sound smarter than we probably were to say "Oh, that's kitschy" instead of "Oh, that's trashy" or "that's tacky." Anyway it probably impressed our small-town American teachers, who may not have even known what it meant themselves!

 

Tja, Schadenfreude ist eben doch die schönste Freude.

Well, schadenfreude is still the best kind of enjoyment.

Caption 36, Umweltlernen: Propellerpflanzen am Kräutertag

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One could argue that the German invention of the word Schadenfreude, which means "a pleasure derived from the pain of others," says some not very nice things about German culture. But it could also be argued that it shows how the German culture had accurate insight into the human psyche, and this as early as the first appearance of the word in 1740. According to some studies, schadenfreude has been observed in children as young as 24 months of age. Hopefully, humans will eventually evolve beyond such sordid pleasures and develop a better sense of empathy for their fellow human beings, even those they dislike.

 

Further Learning
A number of German words adopted by English tend to be used much more often in written English than in spoken English, which is why you may not find them so often in Yabla German videos. Look up the words die Gestalt, die Weltanschauung, and der Weltschmerz in the DWDS dictionary, then compare them to their English equivalents in an English dictionary. Are the meanings nearly identical, such as Bratwurst (bratwurst) and Doppelgänger (doppelgänger) are? Or are they somewhat different, as Angst (angst) is?

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Über hinaus and über hinweg

If you are familiar with über ("above," "over," "across") and hinaus ("out," "afield"), the fact that über hinaus (also darüber hinaus) is often translated as "beyond" may not surprise you. Like in English, it can be used to talk about physical distance, or be used in a similar context to außerdem, which means "additionally" or "moreover."

 

Es ging über die Wiese hinaus in die große, weite Welt.

It went across the meadow, out into the big, wide world.

Caption 49, Märchen - Sagenhaft: Das hässliche Entlein

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Ist die Drohne auch mit einer Kamera ausgestattet, muss ihr Besitzer darüber hinaus noch mehr beachten.

If the drone is also equipped with a camera, its owner must additionally pay even more attention.

Captions 36-37, Rhein-Main-TV: Strengere Regeln - Lohnt sich eine Drohne überhaupt noch?

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...und vielleicht noch darüber hinaus mit verschiedenen Medien zu arbeiten.

...and maybe even beyond that, working with different kinds of media.

Caption 50, Sprachschulen: Sprachcaffe Frankfurt

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Although it may look similar, über hinweg cannot be used interchangeably with über hinaus. It is often translated with "over" or "through" and can be used to talk about time passing. Take a look:

 

Für Menschen sind Tiere oft treue Begleiter und helfen über so manche einsame Stunde hinweg.

Animals are often loyal companions for people, and help them through many a lonely hour.

Captions 1-2, Für Tierfreunde: Wohin mit Tieren wenn Besitzer sterben

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Wir haben mit den vierten Klassen über ein ganzes Jahr hinweg zu unterschiedlichen Themen gearbeitet...

Over the course of an entire year, we have worked on various themes with the fourth grade class...

Captions 11-12, Erstes Frankfurter „Schuljahr der Nachhaltigkeit“: Abschlussfeier

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As you can see, both of the examples above refer to time, and not to distance or extent. But in this next example, über hinaus very clearly means "over" and "away":

 

Eines Tages wird es so weit sein, und bis dahin träume ich mich über die Mauer hinweg zu dir.

One day it will be the case, and until then I will dream myself over the wall to you.

Caption 29, Lilly unter den Linden: Umzug in die DDR

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Further Learning
Go to Yabla German and make sure you understand how these phrases are used in a sentence. For each sentence you see, consider which other word could be used and what this says about the meaning of über hinaus or über hinweg in that particular context. 

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Alles Liebe zum Valentinstag!

Yabla published a lesson on Valentine's Day in Germany a few years ago, but we thought it would be timely to address the topic again as we have a lot of newer videos that mention the holiday. Valentine's Day in Germany is not as popular as it is in some countries, but it's getting celebrated more every year.

 

Heute ist Valentinstag, deswegen treffen sich heute bestimmt besonders viele Leute hier.

Today is Valentine's Day, so there are bound to be a lot of people here today.

Captions 7-8, Valentinstag: in Karlsruhe

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The first part is literally true, since this lesson was sent out on Valentine's Day!

 

Valentinstag find ich ganz gut. Mit wem willst du denn Valentinstag feiern?

I think Valentine's Day is pretty good. Who do you want to celebrate Valentine's Day with?

Captions 31-32, Nicos Weg: Feste und Feiertage

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This can, of course, be the question if you're single. Maybe it's a good time to be brave and give somebody you like a nice platonic-ish Valentine's card–but only if it's in the appropriate circumstances, like maybe not in the workplace.

 

Die Floristen wappnen sich für den Valentinstag.

The florists are gearing up for Valentine's Day.

Caption 3, Rhein-Main-TV: Vorbereitungen für Valentinstag laufen

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Your local florist, like many small businesses, has probably suffered a lot during the pandemic. This is a great time to give them some support if you can afford it–even if the flowers are for yourself!

 

Valentinstag ist ein Hochbetriebstag,  an dem]einfach ganz viele Menschen kommen, die für ihre Liebste oder ihren Liebsten Blumen kaufen.

Valentine's Day is a peak day when a lot of people simply come who are buying flowers for their sweethearts.

Captions 6-9, Rhein-Main-TV: Vorbereitungen für Valentinstag laufen

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Of course, you want to be very sure before you buy somebody flowers, but as we mentioned above, in the worst case scenario, buy some for yourself. And no, it's not "sad," it's self-affirming!

 

In Deutschland gilt der Valentinstag erst seit den 1950er Jahren als Tag der Freundschaft.

In Germany, Valentine's Day has been observed as a day of friendship only since the 1950s.

Caption 14, Valentinstag: in Karlsruhe

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But Valentine's Day is, in fact, becoming so popular in Germany that...

...laut einer Umfrage des Verbraucherforums Mydealz erwarten rund 60% der Deutschen auf jeden Fall ein Geschenk von ihrem Partner oder von ihrer Partnerin.

...according to a survey by the consumer forum Mydealz, around 60% of Germans definitely expect a gift from their partner.

Captions 40-42, Rhein-Main-TV: Vorbereitungen für Valentinstag laufen

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Further Learning
Go to Yabla German and watch the full videos above to see the context in which these expressions about Valentine's day have been used.

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Adorable German Words

German has a reputation for being a difficult and rough language, but there are in fact some words and constructions that are particularly lovely and not found in any other language. Let's have a look!

 

First of all, there are a number of nouns that are quite charming, including compound nouns. In what other language do you have words for a sense of happiness found when hiking, or being as happy as a poodle? Or what about the word for lightbulb, which literally translates as "glowing pear?"

 

Ein Mitbringsel gibt es für die Familie dann aber doch.

But there is a little present then for the family, nonetheless.

Caption 13, Katherine Heigl: Sie liebt deutsches Essen

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Die Biker fühlen sich pudelwohl hier zwischen S-Bahn und Autos

The bikers feel as happy as poodles here between the S-Bahn and cars,

Caption 48, Pumptrack: Rad fahren, ohne zu treten

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Zum Gipfelglück führt nur ein schmaler Grat durchs ewige Eis.

Enjoyment of the summit is only reachable by a narrow ridge, through eternal ice.

Caption 7, Die letzten Paradiese: Die Schönheit der Alpen 1

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...der typische Morgenmuffel namens Geli.

...a typical morning grouch by the name of Geli.

Caption 17, Galileo: So kommt man morgens leichter aus dem Bett

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Hier ist die Fassung und da ist die Birne. Kann man rein- und rausschrauben. -Ist eine Glühbirne.

Here is the socket and there is the bulb. You can screw it in and out. -It's a light bulb.

Captions 23-24, Unterwegs mit Cettina: auf dem Bruchsaler Weihnachtsmarkt - Part 2

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Then there is the ending -chen. You are probably already familiar with several words that simply have this ending, such as das Mädchen, das Hähnchen, or das Bisschen. But like the ending -lein-chen is used to create diminutive forms, and there are many words that can be transformed with this suffix. Let's have a look.

As mentioned, these two words ending in -chen are simply standard German words:

 

Ein Junge und ein Mädchen, fünf Jahre und zwei Jahre.

A boy and a girl, five years old and two years old.

Caption 60, Cettina: interviewt Mütter

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Glaubst du, du wirst dort ein leckeres Hähnchen grillen?

Do you think you will grill a delicious chicken there?

Caption 38, Konjugation: Das Verb „grillen“

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In these next two examples, you can see that das Männchen can mean "the little man," in this case referring to small statues. However, it also can refer to the male of a species, in this case a male woodpecker:

 

Ja, richtig. Aus dem Ampelmännchen ist eine dreidimensionale Skulptur geworden.

Yes, exactly. A three dimensional sculpture has emerged from the little traffic light man.

Caption 2, 25 Jahre Wiedervereinigung: Ampelmännchen wird Einheitsmännchen

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Bei der Zimmererarbeit wechseln Männchen und Weibchen einander ab.

When it comes to carpentry work, males and females take turns.

Caption 35, Die letzten Paradiese Schätze der Natur: Südtirol

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This next example brings up a good point, which is that many diminutive forms result in the addition of an umlaut:

 

Aus dem „Hund“ wird dann ein „Hündchen“.

From "dog," we then get "little dog."

Caption 31, Deutsch mit Eylin: Umlaute - Part 1

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As you may have noticed, all of these words have the article das. While Mark Twain may have been quite critical of "the girl" having a neuter article rather than a feminine one, you have to admit it's quite convenient that they all follow the same pattern!

 

Further Learning
In addition to what you can find on Yabla German, there is a massive list of nouns that end with -chen on Wikipedia. Have a look! On Yabla, pay special attention to how the -chen ending is pronounced by native speakers, using the slow playback function if necessary. 

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Expressions using Tisch, Part II

In Part I of "Expressions using Tisch," we explored a number of German idioms that use the noun der Tisch. Let's take a look at some more of them today!

 

Wo ist denn der Herr Schöller? -Zu Tisch mit Herrn Fischer.

Where is Mr. Schöller? -Eating with Mr. Fischer.

Captions 26-27, Marga Engel schlägt zurück: Hochmut kommt vor dem Fall

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In the above example, the speaker dropped the verb, but the full sentence would read Herr Schöller ist zu Tisch mit Herrn Fischer.  The phrase zu Tisch sein could also be translated more literally as "at the table," but in German it is, perhaps even more so than in English, suggesting that they are eating a meal.

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Dann ist das gleich vom Tisch.

Then it'll be resolved soon.

Caption 20, Lerchenberg: Sascha hautnah

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The phrase vom Tisch sein means "to resolve" something, whereas the English expression "off the table" means that something, such as an offer, is no longer valid or being considered. Beware of false friends!

 

Zwei Jahre hat der Bau gedauert und 1,4 Milliarden Euro hat Betreiber EnBW dafür auf den Tisch gelegt.

The construction lasted two years, and 1.4 billion euros is what the operator EnBW invested.

Captions 14-15, Windenergie Ostsee-Windpark: Baltic 2 speist Strom ins Netz ein

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If you were talking about business and said that an investor "laid 1.4 billion euros on the table," it would probably be understood, but for clarity it's best to translate auf den Tisch legen as "to invest."

 

Also würdest du mich jetzt hier ruhig unter den Tisch saufen können?

So, could you easily drink me under the table here now?

Caption 13, Schauspielerin: Jessica Schwarz

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This one is a double whammy since saufen (literally "to soak") is also slang. The slightly more polite version is unter den Tisch trinken, but that is easy, as the expression is identical in English!

 

Dann: „Jemanden über den Tisch ziehen“.

Then, "To take advantage of someone."

Caption 4, Nicos Weg: Bei uns oder bei euch?

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"To pull someone over the table" doesn't make much sense in English, though it doesn't sound like a very nice thing to do! As you see, jemanden über den Tisch ziehen means "to take advantage of someone."

 

Further Learning
Make up some new sentences using the expressions we just learned about and have your teacher or a fellow student check your work:

 

zu Tisch sein

vom Tisch sein

auf den Tisch legen

unter den Tisch trinken

über den Tisch ziehen

 

Afterwards go to Yabla German and watch the full videos above to see the context in which these expressions have been used.

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The German Approach to Fun

At some point while learning German, it may have dawned on you that there isn't exactly a German equivalent for the adjective "fun." There is, of course, the noun der Spaß, which is used to describe how someone can "have fun" (Spaß haben) or something can "be fun" (Spaß machen):

 

Ich glaube, auch die Erwachsenen haben Spaß an dem Film.

I think adults also have fun with this film.

Caption 11, Michael Mittermeier: Hexe Lilli

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Und ich hab auch gelernt, dass es mir Spaß macht, vor der Kamera zu stehen,

And I also learned that standing in front of the camera is fun for me,

Caption 20, Anja Polzer: Interview

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The adjective spaßig does exist, but is more specific, meaning that something is either "merry" or "celebratory," or "jocular" or "playful." Es hat Spaß gemacht is therefore not really the same thing as Es war spaßig

 

Und spaßig ging es auch in der Festhalle weiter.

And it continued merrily in the Festhalle too.

Caption 24, Rheinmain im Blick: Live-Entertainment-Award in Frankfurt

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In terms of adjectives, however, there are a few other contenders. The adjective lustig can mean either "funny" or "fun" depending on the context.

 

Es ist einfach lustig und immer wieder da zwischendurch kommt trotzdem wieder ein Fund.

It's just fun, and time and time again in between, another find is still made.

Caption 64, Ausgrabungen: Auf den Spuren der Dinosaurier

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The adjectives amüsant and unterhaltsam also play a role here, as they describe something or someone being fun in the sense of being entertaining. 

 

Er ist sicher wahnsinnig locker und unheimlich amüsant.

I'm sure he's incredibly easygoing and incredibly entertaining.

Caption 28, Weihnachtsmann gesucht: Bist du verliebt?

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So unterhaltsam kann Lernen sein!

Learning can be so entertaining!

Caption 5, Theaterstück über gesunde Ernährung: Henrietta in Fructonia

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Für die knappe Stunde Flug ist die Außenansicht unterhaltsam genug.

For just under an hour's flight, the view outside is entertaining enough. 

Caption 10, Galileo Zug vs. Flugzeug: Von München nach Berlin

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Further Learning
On Yabla German, you can find many examples of how Germans cleverly use Spaß machen and Spaß haben to describe various fun occurrences and events. What has been fun for you in the last months? How would you tell someone about it in German?

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"Crazy" in Slang and Idiom

In an earlier Yabla lesson, we started discussing idioms and slang expressions for "crazy." We'll be taking a look today at some more expressions that seriously question somebody's psychological well-being. But a word of warning if you are in Germany: these expressions are insulting and may make the person you are directing them at very angry. If that person has witnesses, it's possible that they could personally file criminal charges against you, take you to court, and have you convicted for insulting them. In Germany, Beleidigung is a felony crime punishable by up to two years' imprisonment and a fine. If the person who was insulted is a police officer or other public official, either the person or their supervisor can file charges against you. In that case it's called die Beamtenbeleidigung. So much for freedom of speech! Let's take a look at a few expressions that could get you in trouble in the wrong circumstances.

 

Sag mal, bist du völlig verrückt geworden?

Tell me, have you completely gone crazy?

Caption 47, Großstadtrevier: Leben kommt, Leben geht

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The adjective verrückt is slang and used very commonly. It comes from a 16th century usage which meant "brought to the wrong place."

 

Die spinnen ja wohl. Das ist ja wahnsinnig.

They're crazy. This is insane.

Caption 38, Großstadtrevier: Nicht mit mir

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The verb spinnen was described in the previous Yabla lesson. The adjective wahnsinnig may also be translated as "crazy." It's also used in a casual sense to add emphasis, such as Das ist wahnsinnig teuer ("That is very expensive" or "That is crazy expensive"). It comes from the Old and Middle German word wan, which meant "lacking" or "empty."

 

Diese irre Öko-Oma wollte neulich einen echten Klimaplan verabschieden.

This crazy eco-grandma recently wanted to pass a real climate plan.

Caption 25, heute-show: Das kann die Welt beim Klimaschutz von Deutschland lernen

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The expression irre comes from an obsolete noun that meant "the wrong way" or "the wrong direction."

 

Seid ihr bescheuert oder was?

Are you crazy or what?

Caption 4, Lilly unter den Linden: Umzug in die DDR

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The answer to that is, "No, we're just trying to learn German!" The adjective bescheuert is derived from the verb scheuern, which means "to thoroughly scrub out" with a brush or similar cleaning tool. The less than polite suggestion is that someone's brain has been scrubbed out of their skull!

 

Further Learning
Make up some new sentences using the expressions discussed above and have your teacher or a fellow student check your work. Please be sure that the sentences you construct are not aimed at your fellow students or your teacher—it always pays to be polite! Go to the videos mentioned above on Yabla German to better understand the contexts in which these expressions have been used.

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Halten and Other Related Verbs

This week, let's have a look at the German verb halten and consider how it is combined with prefixes to make other verbs. Even by itself, the verb halten has a number of meanings. First of all, it translates as "to stop": 

 

Nein, Peter! Du darfst ihnen nichts geben. -Halt!

No, Peter! You mustn't give them anything. -Stop!

Caption 9, Heidi: Die Mutprobe

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Halten may also mean "to hold" or "to hold onto" (also in the variation festhalten) in either a literal or figurative sense.

 

Und zwar dürfen Sie sich jetzt mal hier kurz festhalten. Genau.

And, that is, you may now hold onto this here for a moment. Exactly.

Caption 44, TEDx: Lebenslange Fitness

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...und dann halt die Finger so über deinen Ohren.

...and then hold your fingers over your ears like this.

Caption 112, Coronavirus: Schutzmasken zum Selbermachen

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It can also mean "to keep" or "to last." Here you can see an example with the reflexive verb sich halten:

 

Die Rohmilch hält sich natürlich nicht ganz so lange wie die Supermarkt-Milch.

The raw milk, of course, doesn't keep quite as long as supermarket milk.

Caption 47, Rhein-Main-TV Moderne Milchtankstelle

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The first phrase below is heard constantly these days, and is one instance in which halten means "to keep" as in "to maintain." The phrase aufrecht halten would normally be translated as "to uphold," but in this case is also better translated as "to maintain."

 

Wir müssen Abstand halten.

We have to maintain distance.

Caption 24, Bundesamt für Gesundheit: Coronavirus und Schulen

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Und ich leite den Einsatz und halte die Kommunikation mit den Gastronomen und Hoteliers aufrecht.

And I lead the operation and maintain the communication with the restaurants and hotels.

Captions 23-24, Schweizer Felsenputzer: suchen Nachwuchs

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"To sustain" and "to abide by" are other possible translations of halten. The structure in this example is sich an etwas halten:

 

Alle Einwohner und Einwohnerinnen und der Staat müssen sich an die Gesetze halten.

All inhabitants and the federal state have to abide by the law.

Captions 36-37, Bundesrepublik: Deutschland Einbürgerungstest

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Then, as is the case with many other common German verbs, there are verbs that consist of halten combined with a prefix and may have either a related or an entirely different meaning. Here are two examples:

 

So, was könnte Olaf Scholz noch aufhalten auf seinem Weg ins Kanzleramt?

So, what could still stop Olaf Scholz on his way to the chancellorship?

Caption 20, heute-show: Die männliche Merkel hat Erinnerungslücken

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Wie sollte sie es nur ohne ihn aushalten?

Just how was she supposed to bear it without him?

Caption 70, Märchen - Sagenhaft: Die Weiber von Weinsberg

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Further Learning

Many examples with halten and related verbs can be found on Yabla German in both reflexive and non-reflexive forms. Can you find examples with enthalten sich enthalten, erhalten, behalten, and verhalten sich verhalten?

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Expressions using Tisch, Part I

In English, we have a number of expressions that use the word "table," such as "to sweep something under table" (to hide something), "to take something off the table" (to make something unavailable), or "to bring something to the table" (to provide or offer a useful skill or attribute). The German language also has a wide variety of expressions relating to der Tisch. Let's take a look at some of them today!

 

Die Suppe aß er hübsch bei Tisch.

He ate the soup nicely at the table.

Caption 23, Kindergeschichten: Der Suppenkasper

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Of course, am Tisch is also "at the table." Depending upon the context, the expression bei Tisch could also be translated as "during the meal."

 

Das Thema ist endlich vom Tisch.
The issue has finally been resolved.

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The German expression vom Tisch sein is kind of a false friend, because in German, it means that something is resolved or finished, which has a positive connotation. But if you say that something is "off the table" in English, it means that something (like an offer) has been withdrawn and is no longer available. A very different meaning indeed!

 

Ich kann den Tisch decken und Milch eingießen oder Brot holen.

I can set the table, and pour milk, or get bread.

Caption 38, Heidi: Heidis erster Tag beim Großvater

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You probably knew this one already, but it's also easy to misunderstand, since den Tisch decken translates literally as "to cover the table," which could be misinterpreted to mean to cover it with a tablecloth or something! Of course, it just means to set the table with silverware and such.

 

Lass die nicht im Stich, Eddie! Mach reinen Tisch.

Don't leave her in the lurch, Eddie! Make a fresh start.

Captions 34-35, Die Pfefferkörner: Endspurt

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The expression einen reinen Tisch machen is very close to the English expression "to start with a clean state," which means to start something over again despite old mistakes.

 

Das Angebot liegt auf dem Tisch.
The offer is on the table.

 

The expression auf dem Tisch liegen is pretty easy, because it has the same meaning as the English idiom: to be presented, to be put forth, to be offered, or to be shown.

 

Und wenn da jemand die Frauen unter den Tisch fallen lassen wollte...  dann verschwinden sie eben aus der Kunstgeschichte.

And if someone, didn't want to take the women into account... then they simply disappear from art history.

Captions 30-31, Malerei: Impressionistinnen

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In English, to be paid "under the table" means that somebody is getting paid off the record, but "to fall under the table" usually just means that something got dropped on the floor! And in German, to "let something fall under the table" means that something has been omitted, ignored, is no longer considered or mentioned, or is not taken into account.

 

Further Learning
Make up some new sentences using the expressions we just learned about and have your teacher or a fellow student check your work:

 

bei Tisch

vom Tisch sein

den Tisch decken

einen reinen Tisch machen

auf dem Tischen liegen

unter den Tisch fallen lassen

 

Afterwards go to Yabla German and watch the full videos above to see the context in which these expressions have been used.

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Visiting and Hosting

Although perhaps less so this year, December is often a month of visiting and hosting. As the year comes to an end, let's have a look at some vocabulary related to spending time with loved ones. 

 

You likely know the German verb besuchen ("to visit"). The noun der Besuch can mean "the visit," but also means "the visitor"/"the visitors." You can also say der Gastgeber / die Gastgeberin for "the host" and der Gast / die Gäste for "the guest"/"the guests." 

 

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Nun muss ich nur noch auf meinen Besuch warten.

Now I just have to wait for my visitors.

Caption 38, Apfelkuchen: mit Eva

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Ich bekomme heute nämlich Besuch, Günther.

I am getting a visitor today, Günther.

Caption 14, Nicos Weg: Lebensmittel

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Warum dauert denn das alles ewig? Die Gäste sind schon da.

Why is everything taking forever then? The guests are already here.

Caption 1, Marga Engel schlägt zurück: Arbeiten für den Feind

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When it comes to actually staying with someone, two more advanced verbs to know are unterbringen and unterkommen.

 

Ach, er ist ein Austauschschüler, der vorübergehend eine Unterkunft braucht.

Oh, he is an exchange student who needs a place to stay for a while.

Caption 17, Küss mich, Frosch: Die Zeiten haben sich geändert

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Wir hätten noch kurzfristig Möglichkeiten, dich unterzubringen...

We would have the last minute possibility of housing you...

Caption 14, Lilly unter den Linden: Umzug in die DDR

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However, to talk about someone staying with you or staying with someone, it's perhaps more common to simply use wohnen paired with bei

 

Ich bin zu Besuch in Berlin und wohne bei meinen zwei Freundinnen.

I'm visiting Berlin and staying with my two friends.

Caption 2, Die Wohngemeinschaft: Probleme

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Of course, it all starts with an invitation: 

 

Da hat man sich Gäste zum Essen eingeladen

You have invited guests to dinner

Caption 1, Das perfekte Dinner: Kochen für Gäste

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Further Learning
In addition to checking out our recent holiday content on Yabla German, create five to ten sentences about this December. Who did you visit? Who visited you? Who will you visit for New Year's Eve? This is a great opportunity to practice building sentences in a number of tenses. 

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Getting "one of the" genders right

With all of the genders available today, it's kind of amazing that German still has only three to choose from: feminine, masculine, and neuter (respectively die, der, and das in the nominative case). In German, there are two different ways to say "one of the" followed by a plural noun, such as "one of the cats," one of the dogs," or "one of the guinea pigs."

 

What makes this expression a bit difficult in German is that the gender in the "one" (in "one of") has to correspond to the gender of the plural noun you are using. This is a typical example of needing to know in German exactly what you're going to say before you say the first word of the sentence.

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Imagine you're at an animal shelter trying to decide between adopting a cat or a dog or a guinea pig, and are looking at one pen full of kitties, next to one full of puppies, and another full of guinea pigs. When they ask what kind of pet you are looking for, in English you could start saying "One of the..." and then finish the sentence once you'd decided. But not in German, because the "one" (einer/eine/eines) in German has to agree with the gender of animal you're about to pick: "cat" is die Katze, a feminine noun; "dog" is der Hund, a masculine noun; and "guinea pig" is das Meerschweinchen, a neuter noun.  So you'd have to make your decision before you open your mouth to say either:

 

Eine von den Katzen, bitte. (dative)
Eine der Katzen, bitte. (genitive)
One of the cats, please.

 

Einen von den Hunden, bitte. (dative)
Einen der Hunde, bitte. (genitive)
One of the dogs, please.

 

Eines von den Meerschweinchen, bitte. (dative)
Eines der Meerschweinchen, bitte. (genitive)
One of the guinea pigs, please.

 

Note that in the accusative case, the masculine einer becomes einen. As you can see, there is both a dative and a genitive way to say this. In spoken German, using the dative case is most common, whereas in formal written German, it's better to use the genitive. It's particularly tricky in that you need to know the gender of what you're discussing beforehand, and of course the definite articles are different in dative and genitive. But at least the plural definite article in dative is always den, and the plural definite article in genitive is always der.

 

Eines der letzten Spiele war dann von 1906 gegen 1860.

One of the last games was 1906 versus 1860.

Captions 15-16, Ball des Weines: Franz Beckenbauer

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The following example uses the adjective viel instead of the definite article:

 

Einer von vielen Punkten, die auch zwischen den Verhandlungspartnern hoch umstritten sind.

One of many points that are highly disputed between the negotiating parties.

Caption 34, Deutsche-Welle-Nachrichten: Massenprotest gegen TTIP

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When you use plural pronouns such as uns (us) or ihnen ("them") in a gender non-specific way, you always use the masculine form einer:

 

Einer von ihnen ist jüdisch, er geht jetzt hier zur Armee und so.

One of them is Jewish, he's going into the army here now and such.

Caption 28, Konstantin: ein Freiwilliger in Israel

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But if you are talking about women (die Frau, plural die Frauen) or children (das Kind, plural die Kinder), the genders must agree:

 

Es gibt 20 Frauen. Eine von ihnen...
Es gibt 20 Kinder. Eines von ihnen

 

Further Learning
Make a list of 20 or so nouns including their definite articles, such as die Frau, der Mann, das Kind. Then go through the list include each noun in a "one of the..." sentences, being sure to get the plural right. Don't forget too that many plural nouns in dative get an extra -n at the end: Einer von den Männern. Then go to Yabla German and watch the full videos above to see the context in which they have been used.

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eh, ehe, eher and die Ehe

Above you can see two adverbs, a conjunction, and a noun that are close to identical. Can you differentiate between them?

 

The best translation of the adverb eh is "anyway," but—Achtung!—it can't be used in every situation like its English counterpart. Have a look at this lesson to review the different contexts in which eh and similar words like sowieso and trotzdem are used.

 

Ich find's eh schade, dass man ihn kaum noch bei uns im Zweiten sieht.

I think it's a shame anyway that you hardly ever see him with us on Zweiten ["Second," a TV channel].

Caption 9, Lerchenberg: Ein Fall für Zwei

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Der war eh potthässlich.

It was really ugly anyway.

Caption 71, Lerchenberg: Du bist, was du isst

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The conjunction ehe means "before." To see it compared to other words with the same meaning, have a look at this lesson. Here are more examples:

 

„Wir müssen uns ganz schnell davonschleichen“, sagte Frederick leise, „ehe er uns bemerkt.“

"We have to sneak away very quickly," said Frederick quietly, "before he notices us."

Captions 33-34, Piggeldy und Frederick: Der Elefant

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Und ehe die beiden sich's versahen, befanden sie sich auf dem Wagen.

And before they both knew it, they found themselves on the truck.

Caption 25, Piggeldy und Frederick Reise nach Schweinebrück

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Next we come to the adverb eher, which has two main meanings. First of all, it can be a synonym for früher ("earlier"):

 

Könntest du mir morgen den Brief etwas eher schicken?

Could you send the letter to me a bit earlier tomorrow?

Caption 36, Janoschs Traumstunde: Post für den Tiger

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However, eher can also refer to likelihood or preference. The best way to get a sense of this is to look at the diverse translations for eher related to this context:

 

Die Luftballons sind eher was für die Kleinen.

The balloons are more something for the little ones.

Caption 19, Das Fest: Open-Air in Karlsruhe

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Also ich bin dann eher lieber Nachtmensch.

So then I'm more of a night person.

Caption 13, Angelique Kerber Generali fragt Angelique Kerber: Ist Angie Frühaufsteherin?

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Ich würde dann eher nicht so einen kräftigen Lack nehmen.

I would then rather not select such a bright polish.

Caption 21, Das Beauty-Einmaleins: Fingernägel

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Die großen traditionellen Weihnachtsmärkte findet man eher im Süden Deutschlands.

One is more likely to find the large traditional Christmas markets in the south of Germany.

Caption 6, Weihnachtsmärkte: mit Eva

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Like all German nouns, die Ehe ("the marriage") is capitalized, which makes it easily distinguishable from ehe

 

Dabei hat die Kanzlerin doch vorher gegen die Ehe für alle gestimmt.

Yet the chancellor previously voted against marriage for all.

Caption 9, heute-show: Die männliche Merkel hat Erinnerungslücken

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Further Learning
You will find many examples of eh and eher on Yabla German, which can help you understand how to integrate these words into your own spoken German. 

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