Thanks to the seemingly innocent old man who promised to teach me some local expressions, I spent my first two weeks in Germany looking people dead in the eye and yelling ‘prostate’ every time we had a drink. As a proponent of the ‘once bitten, twice shy’ philosophy, I have since become very wary of phrases that the locals try and teach me, and for this reason I have decided to dedicate this post to words that I have come across independently in general conversation. Here’s some I really like:
Anstandsrest – I really think the English language would benefit from this word. It describes the situation where there is a plate with only one piece of food left on it but everybody is too polite to take it.
Guten Appetit! – I think it is fairly obvious what this one means. I just thought it was worth mentioning as it is something that I encounter pretty much every day. Before any meal, be it at home or in a restaurant, before you start eating, if another person is around they will wish you a good meal. If one is feeling particularly lazy then a simple “Guten!” can be uttered but the sentiment is nonetheless there. This small utterance has become second nature to me and now I can’t help but feel somewhat uncivilised if I don’t hear it.
Kummerspeck – This is a compound of the words “kummer” (sorrow) and “speck” (bacon). It is used to describe the excess weight that one gains as a result of comfort eating.
(My favourite German word is kakerlake but that’s just because it’s fun to say. It means cockroach).
Something interesting I have also noticed over the last 8 months is the abundance of English words, especially in younger speakers. This is also known as ‘Denglish’ – basically the German equivalent of Franglais or Spanglish. Here’s a few examples:
chillen (to chill)
downloaden (to download)
couchsurfen (to couch surf).
This influx of English has proven to be particularly useful because whenever I am unsure of a word in German I have taken to saying the English word in a German accent and hoping for the best. I reckon about 9 times out of 10 it works out in my favour.