There is just something fantastic (or fantastisch!) about German vocabulary. The common perception is that Germans are straight-forward, literal and as a by-product, not funny. I say bully to that! It’s this literal approach to everything — including language — that makes for oodles of funny. At least to me.
When a German wishes to express several concepts, ideas, titles or events at once they will simply mash the words for these concepts together; thus forming one super-word! The classic example being Donaudampfschiffahrtsgesellschaftskapitän, which in English becomes four words: “Danube steamship company captain.”
Awesome. … except of course if you are a journalist being paid by the word.
I’ve been surveying my friends here to find out their favourite words. One friend has already weighed in with his pick: ordnung. Here are some others that you might enjoy. Special thanks to Lisa, Valeska, Milena and especially The D who is helping me translate basketball trash-talk into German.
This is the word for gloves. Literally it means, “hand shoes”. Pretty self-explanatory. Also, awesome is the Ukrainian word for toes. пальці ніг (paltsi nih) this converts directly to “foot fingers”.
If I was a smarter person I’d know all about the entomology of certain words found in both German and English. Since I’m not, all I can say is the single German word combining the concepts of “fucked” and “up” sounds way similar, yet way cooler than it’s English counterpart.
In short, this word means mullet. It’s a stellar mashed-up abbreviation of the expression, “vorne kurz hinten lang,” or, short in the front, long at the back. I’d like to propose a new word for the German lexicon: Vogehipar. “Vorne Geschäft hinten Party.”
When I see these all I can think of is some nurse in the future rolling over her elderly ward for a sponge bath, only to be confronted by the smeared withered remnants of what North Americans would call a “tramp stamp.” Over here, they’ve really out-done us on the vocab-creativity front. They call these tattoos, Arschgeweih, or ass-antlers. Bravo Germany, bravo!
Teen alienation is just as prevalent here as anywhere else where people have lots of money and free time. Most recently a young man in Bavaria lost his marbles and began lobbing Molotov cocktails all over his school. Formally we might call these types, disaffected teens, troubled, whatever. In private we’d probably reference the Columbine School shooting, as in, “he went all Columbine!” In true German style, they’ve fashioned a word for just such an unfortunate occasion: Amoklaufer. Literally this means, “amok runner.”
Literally this means “porno-bar.” Figuratively it means that your moustache is like the black bar they used to use to disguise someone’s identity in an explicit video. I think we have an equivalent in English, but it’s been so long since I’ve been bar-hopping on Ossington Ave. I’ve forgotten.
The German word for nostalgia is nostalgie. The word for east is ost. If you miss the “good old days” of communist east-Germany you’re feeling ostalgie. More than just a concept this word has become an industry. Beyond the old pins, tvs, and books from the DDR found at flea markets, larger ventures have tapped into the sentiment. Here in Berlin you can stay at the Ostel, a hotel reminiscent of an old communist apartment building.
I’m still a little fuzzy on this one. I think it literally means, “fucked-through,” or “over-fucked.” In the context I heard it, someone was describing a concept as being over-done, done-to-death or as Adam Carolla would say, “fucked-out.” It’s a little crass I know, but when I saw this ad for NCIS L.A., I realized I needed to find as many words in as many languages of the world to describe what a lame, tired abortion of a show this is.
Again, I’m not clear if this is correct, but in Germany, Voegeln means, “to make like a bird.” It’s what you’re doing whilst getting it on with your lover. Why? I have no idea, and I don’t want to find out. Okay, I do want to find out. I’m so lonely.
Even more confounding than, to bird someone is the word for nipples in German. Brustwarzen comprises the words, “breasts” and “warts.” Gross. Why tarnish something we can all celebrate by comparing it to a small, rough tumor, typically on hands and feet but often other locations, that can resemble a cauliflower or a solid blister.
(ed. note. I originally had a lovely picture of a woman’s chest here. I guess it got some people in trouble at work, so I’ve changed it to a pic of man-nipples.)