I thought I’d had a bit of a breakthrough in German the other day when I received this text message (SMS):
Kein Thema, bis gleich.
Now, to me, the German learner, this was first baffling, and then, because it had stumped me, I felt sure it must the result of auto-correction of:
Kein Problem, bis gleich – “No problem, see you shortly.”
But no! Although I was aware of the meaning of das Thema as “topic,” “theme” (gotta love those cognates!) or “subject,” I had never heard it used in the expression Kein Thema! meaning “Not a problem!” Perhaps this use of das Thema stems from it having the meaning “issue” in the sense of “topic” – in English one can say that something is “not an issue” and mean that it is “not a problem.” Whatever the source of this meaning of kein Thema, researching it led to two other nifty things.
First, I discovered this podcast from PukkaGerman about colloquial expressions for saying things like “Sure, no problem” and in listening I finally learned why my friends Julia and Wiebke were saying stimmt so when they paid their bills for Kaffee und Kuchen (basically “keep the change”); as well as that to answer “with pleasure” to a suggestion one can say either gern or gerne (I’d heard both and thought that there might be some distinction in meaning between them – a whole post or two needs to be done on this useful adverb).
Second, dict.cc offered me several other ways to say “no problem” beyond my newest friend kein Thema:
Keine Ursache – “no problem” or “you’re welcome” or “no worries” or “don’t mention it” or “no bother at all”
Wird gemacht – “no problem” or “will do” (this is not too far from a literal translation)
Ist nicht schlimm – “no problem” or “don’t worry”
Nichts leichter als das – “no problem” or “no problem at all”
With language learning it seems that there is kein Thema finding new themes to explore!