Tag Archives: false friend

What’s so “Bad” about that idea?

Today I had to laugh as I saw a truck with the image of a family in bathtub at sea. The tub had a motor attached at the back and the mother, father and two kids seemed to be enjoying their journey. The image was an advertisement for a company that offers products from a firm called BadIdeen — “bath ideas” — but between the image of the bath at sea and the fact that the English word “bad” should be translated as schlecht rather than das Bad, I couldn’t help thinking that this was a company selling “bad ideas” rather than, as described below, tolle Ideen für das Badezimmer

Screen Shot 2016-08-22 at 4.38.30 AM

 

Advertisements
Tagged , , , ,

Lieb und wert halten

Lieblingswörter. Manche haben ein paar. „Gemütlichkeit“ oder „Heimat“ oder „Schadenfreude“, zum Beispiel. Natürlich interessiere ich mich für welche Wörter beliebt sind. Aber ich interessiere mich auch für jene, dass die meisten Ausländer eine riesige Herausforderung finden und den Grund dafür. Einige von diesen haben schwierige Laute wie »ch« oder »ü« oder »ö«, dass in anderen Sprachen nicht gibt. Es gibt auch Laute, die man kennt, aber wie die auf Deutsch verbinden können merkwürdig ist: »Pfanne, Pfote und Pfund«. Außerdem gibt es Laute, wo die entsprechenden Buchstaben nicht gleich sind. Auf Spanisch buchstabiert man den Laut /b/ mit »b« oder »v«.    Offensichtlich kann man Synonyme lernen, um solche Wörter zu vermeiden, aber dass ist nicht immer möglich.

Wörter mit viele verschiedene Bedeutungen können genauso anstrengend sein. „Einsatz“ zum Beispiel. Auch schwer ist wenn die Bedeutung  von dem Geschlecht abhängig ist: „die Leiter“ und „der Leiter“. Es gibt auch die sogenannten falsche Freunde. „Gift“ und gift — poison und „Geschenk“ — oder „bald“ und bald soon und „glatzköpfig“. Früher beschrieb ich verwirrte Bandwurmwörter wie „Unkraut“ und „Unheil“, wo die Bedeutung das Ganzes nur in einer schwachen Beziehung mit den Teilen steht.

Schließlich gibt es Wörter wo die Grammatik eine Rolle spielt. Wenn man einige maskuline Wörter wie „der Name“ und „der Löwe“ verwendet, muss man außer dem Nominativ ein »n« oder »en« hinzufügen. „Der Mann hat einen Löwen. Am Geburtstag des Löwen geht der Mann mit dem Löwen in den Zirkus“. Dies bringt mich auf Wörter, dass häufig in Dialog in Deutsch diskutiert sind: „das Jahr“ und „der Monat“. Während eine Vorstellungsrunde muss man fast immer die Mehrzahl dieser Wörter benutzen —„Ich heiße Katherine. Seit dreieinhalb Jahren/Monaten wohne ich in Hamburg“. Glücklicherweise gibt es eine Regel. Endet eine Mehrzahl ohne »n« oder »s«— wie „die Häuser“ und „die Schlüssel“ — dann hinzufügen wir im Dativ (und nur im Dativ) ein »n« — „bei den Häusern“ und „mit den Schlüsseln“.

Nun, da ich all das geschrieben, denke ich, dass diese schwierige Wörter eigentlich reizvoll sind.

 

Tagged , , ,

Kann man Limonade ohne Limone machen?

der-kraeftige-radler-genuss-aus-krombach-krombacher-radler-naturtrueb

Dieses Bild wirbt Bier mit „Zitronenlimonade“. Auf English heißt lemonade ein Getränk, dass ein Zitrone-Geschmack hat oder aus Zitronen gepresst ist. Dass es nach Zitronen schmeckt, bestimmt dieses Getränk. Die Herkunft ist französisch: limon  (Zitrone) + ade (Nachsilbe, dass das Erzeugnis einer Handlung bedeutet). Deswegen klingt „Zitronenlimonade“ — lemon lemonade — ein bisschen seltsam. Aber in dem deutschsprachigen Raum hat es Sinn, weil „die Limonade“ soda oder soft drink heißt. Das ist genauso wie, wenn man in den südöstlichen Staaten coke sagt und „Limonade“ statt „Cola“ (oder lemonade) meint. Ach du grüne Neune! Es gibt immer falsche Freunde.

Tagged , ,

Bob the Bilder?

As I walked past a toy shop today and noticed a sign for Bob der Baumeister, who is called Bob the Builder in English. Now the English word “builder” /ˈbɪldəʳ  US,ˈbɪldɚ UK/ and the German word die Bilder /ˈbɪldɐ/ (“the pictures”) are pronounced and spelled similarly. Therefore to my ears the phrase die Bilder des Baumeisters – “the pictures of the builder” – sounds humorous.

In English we can say that someone has “built up a picture” of someone or something to mean that they have developed an impression or idea about this person or thing. While I couldn’t find a definitive answer, I believe that one could use the verb aufbauen to express this same notion in German as PONS includes examples of using this word when describing building up a new relationship, a new life, one’s stamina or strength. What I can definitively say, however, is that learning German has helped me to build all four of these things.

 

Tagged , , , ,

Verknüpfen gern miteinander?

Purzelbäume – “somersault”

Pferdeapfel – “horse dung”

Knoblauchzehe – “clove of garlic”

Kein Baum, Apfel oder Zeh in Sicht. Man muss zugeben, dass diese Wörter ziemlich seltsam sind.

Tagged , , ,

Compound, Thy Name is Mud

Yesterday morning at Dialog in Deutsch we were presented with the word die Haarspalterei and asked to take a guess at what it might mean. My guess was that it might mean “split ends,” as spalten is “to split” (as in wood) and das Haar is “hair.” And, indeed, one way to say “split ends” is die gespaltene Haarspitzen – “the split hair tips” – and the two other options – der Haarspliss and der Spliss – rely on a different verb for “split,” spleißen which has spliss as the third person singular (and sounds a bit like the English word “splice” making it a false friend as “splicing” involves joining things together). I also had a moment where I wondered if it might indicate a place where you could have your hair worked on as there are several shop names that end in -ei (e.g., die Bäckerei and die Metzgerei). However -ei is simply one way to form a noun from another noun; canoo.net gives the example of forming a new word from das Ferkel – “piglet” – plus -ei which doesn’t mean a shop where piglets can be purchased but rather die Ferkelei means “mess” or a “dirty/disgusting/filthy thing to do.”

We also discussed a few other ways to get across the concept of “hairsplitting” including the words that could be applied to people:

der Haarspalter – hair-splitter
der Erbsenzähler – nit-picker (or “bean counter,” from the more literal reading “pea counter”)
der Federfuchser – petty-minded pedant (literally, I think this is “feather annoyer/nettler”)

Finally, there is the somewhat more neutral adjective penibel – “persnickety,” “painstaking,” “fussy” or “fastidious.”

I look forward to having fun to making a fine mess by debating the difference between nit-picking and hair-splitting!

Tagged , , , ,

999

Today when I made a mistake and put on lip balm/salve before, rather than after, brushing my teeth, I shook my head and said to myself „Nein, Nein, Nein.“ Just then I realized that if overheard by a Brit, this exclamation could be taken either as something truly dire or something ironically exaggerated, because to get the emergency services one calls 999 (I started to write “one dials” and then was struck by how rarely this would literally describe the motion one would make in this age of smartphones). Yes, the sounds are a bit more clipped in the German version, but I would add “nine, nine, nine” and neinnein, nein to my list of English-German/Deutsch-Englisch false friends.

All this put me in mind of when I was taking Japanese back in the early ’80’s because we were taught a bit about word play involving numbers. This type of wordplay is based on the fact that the characters that name the digits 0-9 have three different spoken renderings. This page from Wikipedia gives a number of examples, including the numeral 23 being used as a race car number by Nissan since one rendering of these two digits is pronounced /ni-san/. And as you do, I started to think about how you might put the sounds of the German number names together in order to get something meaningful in English, and at once 69 – sechs nein– came into my head. The bad pun on “head” is fully intended, so here’s hoping no pun-loving and precocious children are reading, or, if they are, perhaps learning German just got a bit more exciting?!

Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , ,

Unfortunate songs?!

Tonight is one of my favorite kitsch classics – The Eurovision Song Contest – which puts me in mind of an error I made a few months ago when talking about this event. Instead of saying “songs” – die Lieder – I said *die Leider which, if it were a noun, would perhaps mean something like “the unfortunates” as the most common meaning of leider is “unfortunately.” Now this is an error that should only be common among people whose native tongue includes both “ei” and “ie” as vowel combinations and who have some idea of how the word “song” is spelled in German. In other words, I made this error as a result of mis-recalling how the word das Lied – “song” – is spelt, rather than mis-recalling how it sounds.

It is also possible that pushing me away from the correct spelling, and thus the correct pronunciation, is the English false friend “lied” which shares the spelling but neither the meaning nor the sound of das Lied. Or perhaps some interference was caused by the fact that we use “lied” in English to talk about a type of music, but keep the English pronunciation so that it matches the past tense for “to lie” (lügen – past participle gelogen)?! (You may know the “lied” as the “art song” – it is usually a poem on a romantic or pastoral theme that has been set to music: http://www.recmusic.org/lieder/.)

Of course, doing the research for today’s post also allowed me to discover something else new and wonderful, namely this blog about die Rechtschreibung (“correct spelling” but somehow also something more than that since this was the result of a planned to change to German in 1996) : http://woerter.germanblogs.de/archive/2012/09/23/es-tut-mir-leid-oder-es-tut-mir-leid-wie-schreibt-man-das-richtig.htm I have to say that I am impressed that someone would make a series of videos about spelling – Rechtschreib TV.

Not to be too critical of the Eurovision, as it is certainly a cultural phenomenon worth understanding – Abba got their start this way and Bonnie Tyler is performing this year’s British entry – if for no other reason than then one can say nil point with authority, but I have to think that there might be more value in watching a couple hours of Rechtschreib TV!

Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

Week 4 Anniversary

I picked up my earth science book again on this the 4th anniversary edition of Earthquake Words and almost immediately stumbled across a familiar false friend, der Herd, but not with the meaning I expected. I was surprised to learn that in addition to being the name for a “stove” or “cooker,” der Herd also means “epicenter” when it is used in the context of earthquakes. Which got me to thinking about the way in which a stove might be thought of as being a center. It turns out that Herd and “stove” both have their roots in Latin and in the idea of the “hearth” which certainly would have been the focal point about which much of a family’s life would revolve as in the expression Heim und Herd. Thus it was intriguing to find that “focus” can be translated as der Brennpunkt because this word can be taken apart and its own fiery origins revealed: it is a compound formed from the verb brennen – “to burn” – and der Punkt – the “spot,” “dot” or “point.”

Canoo.net suggests that the “focus” meaning of der Herd is “the origin of something negative” and gives der Krankheitsherd (“seat of a disease”), der Brandherd (“trouble spot” or “source of fire”), der Unruheherd (“flash point” or “source of unrest” in addition to “trouble spot”), das Pulverfass (“powder keg” or “tinder box”) and der Erdbebenherd as subordinate meanings.

I also discovered that while der Herd – “the stove” – and its plural die Herde are false friends of “the herd” (as in “a group of animals”), die Herde (whose plural happens to be die Herden) is a cognate. Now I don’t know if this would qualify as a Teekesselchen because the one noun is singular and the other plural, but it certainly had me confused. In checking out which animals could make up a herd – for example, die Schafherde “sheep” – I discovered two nifty words for referring to “flocks of birds,” namely die Vogelschar and der Vogelschwarm. Die Schar is given many meanings on dict.cc such as “flock,” “bevy,” “gaggle” and “crowd” and der Schwarm gives us “school” as in fish, as well as “swarm” as in bees, butterflies and meteorites.

But, if we want to translate a favorite phrase of mine, “herding cats,” we have to turn to instead to the phrase einen Sack voll Flöhe hüten and “herd or tend a sack of fleas.” Hüten also has a second reflexive form sich hüten – meaning to “to beware of” or “to be on one’s guard against” and this is one place where we need to heed another expression – sich for falschen Freunden hüten!

Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

Both a borrower and a lender be

Imagine waking up and finding it’s okay to say “Hey, will you borrow me some money?” Well, you might just be in Germany!  On dict.cc, leihen is the translation most commonly given for “to lend” and ausleihen for “to borrow.” Keep looking, though, and “to borrow” shows up under leihen and “to lend” shows up under ausleihen. Moreover, if you look up leihen or ausleihen in ein Wörterbuch you will find both translations given as possible meanings . When I saw a translation of Shakespeare’s line as Kein Borger sei und auch Verleiher nicht, I began to hope that borgen, which looks and sounds quite a bit like “borrow,” might mean this and only this. In turns out, however, that it can also mean “to lend.” (Interestingly, the Online Etymology Dictionary shares this gem in the entry for “borrow” – Old High German boragen “to beware of” – perhaps Shakespeare had this meaning in mind when he put those words in Polonius’ mouth?!).

A Practical Dictionary of German Usage, while confirming the substitutability, did offer a bit of help. When “lend” is the intention, there is often a dative pronoun indicating the recipient – Kannst du mir bitte Hamlet leihen? When the sense is “borrow,” there is often a dative pronoun but in this case it is reflexive, referring back to the subject who is doing the borrowing, and the sentence can include a von or a bei – Ich habe mir Hamlet von dir geliehen.

Two other family members intrigued me. The first is verleihen which is used when it is the figurative sense of “lend” that is intended.  DWDS.de gives as an example die dicken Wände liehen dem Raum angenehme Kühle – “the think walls lent the room a pleasant coolness” – and from the Practical Dictionary comes Der Hopfen verleiht dem Bier den bitteren Geschmack – “The hops lent the beer its bitter taste.” The other, pumpen, which is the familiar version of leihen (and like it can be either “lend” or “borrow”), makes me giggle because I see someone “pumping” someone else for a loan: könnte ich mir bei dir etwas Geld pumpen?

Speaking of loans, to add to the fun, there is der Lohn which means “wage” or “pay” as opposed to “loan,”  which makes your “income tax” die Lohnsteuer. I imagine some of you reading in the US have the feeling that the taxman is “pumping” you for money today!

Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,
deutschlernerblog - für alle, die Deutsch lernen

Deutsch lernen: Hörverstehen, Leseverstehen, Wortschatz, Grammatik, Online-Übungen, Grammatikübungen, Wortschatzübungen, Deutschtests, Deutschprüfungen

a free state of mind

Thoughts from the Journey...

The Diversity Dividend

Doing Diversity Differently

Lirean

Smart language learning

Leading with Trust

Trust is the essential ingredient for leadership success.

Akademie für geile Texte

Literaturnobelp-Reis, Basmati, 3min

Idol Musings

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

PAUL'S EFL REVIEW

Taking a Fresh Look at the English Language

Marathon Sprachen

Unravelling the complexities of German in English

The Elementalist Epoch

Stories and Poems from the mind of Tristan Nagler

Reality Swipe

Welcome to the Reality Swipe experience... Brace yourself