Tag Archives: requests

Why it helps to know the local language – IV

While out for a jog a few weeks ago, I spotted a table and four chairs with a sign saying zu Verschenken (the expression used to indicate that someone is giving something away). Since I was not far from home, I picked up one chair and proceeded to run home with it. I then rushed back to stake claim to the rest of the set and found a woman and her daughter considering the remaining chairs and the table and discussing how they might get them home. This is where it helped to be able to speak German. I told them that I had already taken one chair and began to ask if they might at least allow me to take another one to make a pair when the woman completed my sentence by commenting on my being unable to manage to carry much at one time (she was quite tall, I am not). She said that they already had a similar set at home and didn’t really need this one. and then she and her daughter smiled and went on their way.

I took away two messages. First, don’t be afraid to ask, all someone can do is say “no.” And second, if you see a set of things left on the curb for anyone to take, first remove the item with the sign welcoming you to help yourself.

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Why it helps to know the local language III

Two weekends ago I went on a ramble/tramp/hike. As it was led by a German and all of the other participants, as far as I am aware, were German, that was the language of choice. Early on, it was helpful to know German so that when I was struggling with getting my mittens on, my backpack adjusted and my water bottle in place, and I was asked by the woman next to me if she could hold something, I could respond with “yes, please” – „Ja, bitte“.  And  when she later asked if I could hold her things for a moment, I could reply, “with pleasure” – „Gerne“. The second request also made it clear that we were going to duzen (use the informal) rather than siezen, always a place where I like the native speaker to take the lead.

halten – “to hold something/something [for somebody]”

Würdest du bitte kurz meinen Schirm halten? “Could you hold my umbrella for a second, please?”

In researching this post, I learned that hold is also a word in German:

hold  (humorvoll, lieb) – dear, beloved, sweet
jdm/etw hold bleiben/sein – to be kind to somebody/something

I would have to say that everyone on this trip was indeed kind to me!

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