Tuesday, July 29, 2008

Street Deutsch

Let’s say you put money in a parking meter in Germany and it fails to work. With a limited vocabulary, you may only be able to express things like, “Es funktioniert nicht,” (It doesn’t work). This is a rather boring phrase and does not express the real emotion of losing two Euros (especially with the terrible exchange rates these days). In this case, you need to forgo the grammar book and pull out a little street German. These are all phrases heard, duh, on the street. It’s important to be able to pick these out for future reference. Here’s one from this very situation, picked up from a women in Berlin. So now you don’t have to say, “it doesn’t work,” You can do like a real mad German woman and say:

“Meine Gute! Was ist passiert?” (My God! What happened?)

Or instead of learning words like “businessmen” and “to work”, how about what to say when your business partner stands you up to an important awards ceremony and you are stuck on a 3-hour train to Geneva without him? This was another complicated situation I was fortunate enough to witness, and this is what you say:

“Ich bin stinksauer!” (I am pissed!)

So now you know two of the most useful phrases in the German language. And that’s worth a Zertifikat if I do say so myself.


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