Tag: German language howlers

Travellings: Deutschland #19

Today has been one hell of a Monday. Apart from a few amusing news articles and yet another language howler which resulted in more hysterics and thereby proving that I should not be left to fend for myself in a foreign country, let alone be asked to work with people, I think I can safely say that today is not my day – albeit with an equine theme.

The first thing that made me spit out my water (because I left the sodding tea bags at home) was the discovery of this article on the BBC about ear guaging, or how to stretch an ear piercing until you can pretty much fit small animals through it. Which was fine and seemed perfectly normal until I came across this phrase nestled innocently amongst its neighbours:

“American rapper Travie McCoy and American singer Adam Lambert are also stretching devotees. British fashion expert Gok Wan is also partial to large wooden ear plug adornments but it is not known if these are being used to stretch his lobe.”

I would like to draw your attention to the second sentence and point out, that yes, this article is still live on their website. That’s a bit cheeky, Beeb. Cheekier than I would expect you to be.

I then (fortunately after lunch) came across following article on The Register, which discusses the use of certain equine bodily fluids as aphrodisiacs in New Zealand.

I dread to think what this is going to look like for anyone looking at my browser history. I swear to God I came across it entirely by accident.

I was later asked if I knew if it was possible to connect a Mac monitor to a Windows PC as an additional monitor. I then asked which connections it had, except I wasn’t sure of the word I was looking for and ended up mis-pronouncing the word for plug.

So instead of saying “Stecker”, I said “Stecher”.

“Stecher” means stallion, but of the human-kind – or, as dict.cc described it: “für einen Mann mit hoher sexueller Leistungsbereitschaft”. You’ve got to love German; I mean, in which other language do you know can two and three letters have such a profound influence over the meaning of a word/phrase?

If the example above doesn’t illustrate my point enough, then please carry on reading:

“Verhältnis mit jdm haben” (to be involved with someone) and “Verhältnis zu jdm haben” (to be related to someone).

Small letters, big difference.

German language: 4, Becca: 0.

Travellings: Deutschland #16 The intricacies of German breakfast

Last night was one of the best nights I’ve had since moving to Germany. Shame Doriane has decided to leave this morning, really. It started off with a roast dinner – I think the first one I’ve cooked since first year – and was swiftly followed by gin and the phrase “Wo ist der Gin hin?”

We then had a somewhat surreal call and response singing session with a flat in one of the neighbouring blocks. Things started to go decidely downhill when we rang out of songs and decided to sing the Breadfish song at them.

Over breakfast this morning, my long-suffering flatmate decided to try and explain to me the different expressions I should use when applying something to bread. I say apply, because the English word “spread” simply does not cover the various different expressions.

So, the rules are as follows:

Items such as Nutella, Ovalmaltine, and jam are called “Aufstrich”, so naturally I assumed it would be logical to use “aufstreichen”. However I was then told that you can’t say “I streiche my bread auf”. (Well you can, but you’ll sound weird) You say, more bizarrely, “I schmiere my bread”. Schmieren also has the meanings “to grease or lubricate”.

So this morning I learnt what the Germans do with their bread: lubricate it.

For the record, if you use anstreichen, you’re painting a wall. Not your bread.

But you must be careful, because you can also schmier a person in the sense of “to bribe”.

So make sure you only schmier your bread.

And then I found the word “beschmieren”, which apparently means the same thing, but whilst you can beschmier a wall, you can’t simply schmier it. But only use beschmieren when it’s verunstaltet or ugly.

Oh, and then there are certain salads which you can also schmier on your bread, even though you have to use a spoon.

For what is thought to be such a logical language, German really isn’t making much sense right now.

Anyway, back to breakfast. Sliced meats are then referred to as Aufschnitt. This is unschmierbar unless it is Leberwurst oder Teewurst, in which case it’s streichbar. For Aufschnitt you don’t really have a verb. Spoilsports.

Then there’s Schmierkäse, which is the same as fresh cheese. Which I’ve just been told can also be eaten with jam. Jam. Schmelzkäse also exists, as does Rotschmierkäse, which translates as the delightful “red smear cheese”.

Hmm, tasty.

Then there’s bread. Here in Bayern, everything is a Semmel.
Go north and say that and you’ll immediately stand out. Brötchen is probably the best one to go for.

All I wanted was marmite on toast for breakfast.

Today I am an owl