Tag Archives: colloquialisms


Yesterday I encountered a sign that read:

Unbedingt Hygienebeutel benutzen

I was struck by the economy of words, nothing wasted in this discussion of what to do with your waste. My sense is that in the US we would be likely to say something much more like “Don’t flush sanitary products, please put them in this container” which, in addition to having many more words, also feels significantly less direct.

The word unbedingt is one which I first encountered on another sign; there it was used to leave people in no doubt that dogs must be on leashes/leads. Various sources render its meaning as “absolute(ly),” “unconditional(ly),” “imperative(ly),” “obligator(il)y,” categorical(ly)” and “without fail.” In other words, it’s strong stuff. With these meanings, and given it appears on signage, it also feels that little bit formal to me. It would seem that this intuition is perhaps incorrect, though, as DWDS.de lists some lovely synonyms in umgangssprachlich (ugs.) or colloquial usage and their translations into English are also quite colloquial:

allemal – “every time”
hundert Pro – “sure as the sun rises” or literally “one hundred per[cent]”
ey Alter, ich schwör – “Hey dude, I swear”
todsicher – “dead sure; a dead cert”
auf Gedeih und Verderb – “completely and utterly; for better or for worse” or more literally something like “spanning success and decay”

DWDS also includes the expression ganz und gar – “utterly and completely” – a combination I’d wondered about given the ability in German to verstärken almost everything, including superlatives. What, is that ganz genau, I hear you say?!


Tagged , , , , , , , , , ,

Correct or auto-correct? No worries!

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!

Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,
Ray's Musings

Mostly Music Mixed With Miscellaneous Mayhem

virtuelles Migrationsmuseum

DOMiDs Blog zum Virtuellen Migrationsmuseum

Hamburg für Anfänger

Leben und (ver)lieben in Hamburg

Deutsch lernen mit Deutschlernerblog

Deutsch lernen - Hörverstehen, Leseverstehen, Wortschatz, Grammatik, Übungen, Prüfungen, Schreiben, Quiz, Musik, Videos, Bilder

a free state of mind

Thoughts from the Journey...

The Diversity Dividend

Doing Diversity Differently


Smart language learning

Leading with Trust

Leadership begins with trust.

Akademie für geile Texte

Lasst mich schreiben. Dann wird alles gut.

Idol Musings

Ray's ruminations, rants and reflections on his American Idol addiction

The Elementalist Epoch

Stories and Poems from the mind of Tristan Nagler