Saturday, March 13, 2010

You Speak a Little German too

I feel like my family has always liked words. I'm not sure it always comes from a true desire for learning and knowledge, but sometimes just so we can feel smart. You see, we like to bust people up when they use a word incorrectly, make a spelling error, or use poor grammar.* We are canty like that.

One of my big pet peeves is "I could care less". In case you didn't know...the phrase is "I couldn't care less". I think 80 - 85% of people (my own verifiable statistic) say "I could care less". Let's think about this for a second here. You are trying to convey that you just don't give a dang, right? Then you care SO LITTLE that you could NOT care any less. And, Art doesn't like when people misuse the phrase "begs the question". I promise he didn't create this website though...we are not that feisty.

My older brother is a Scrabble dominator and many fear a round at the board with him. {I will refrain from gloating about my first time playing Scrabble EVER and beating him. (And we are not the kind to let others win)...although, I admit it was mostly luck...I have never played him again as I probably won't have the same good fortune come round 2.}

My grandfather, father and older brother are all crossword puzzle lovers as well. Some of my most vivid memories of my late grandfather are of him at his kitchen table working on the daily crossword and asking me about my softball pitch. {I did the windmill kind of pitch where you wind your arm up and throw...and mine usually went lobbing up into the sky and dropping on home plate.}

My brother even churns out his own self-made crossword puzzles. This is not easy folks. He made one for his wedding and it was passed out to family and friends beforehand. The answers were then revealed at the actual wedding in the form of fondant icing on his groom's cake. This is true love of the written word.

And, I've heard that my mother has become addicted to a new iPhone app called Words with Friends. It's like Scrabble and you can play with other people that have the app on their iPhone.
I've been informed by a little birdie, ahem..a blonde one, who lives with Mom that no venue or time of day is exempt from a quick round of WWF. And often in the middle of serious conversation, instead of an "Oh my gosh, that's terrible...I can not believe you lost your job" you get an "dang thing! {shaking of the phone}, I keep getting vowels!"

So, what was my point? Oh yeah, I like words (and fonts!) too and that helps when learning this language. It's sometimes such an 'Aha! moment' to finally look up a word in my nuggie, Elsie-bitten dictionary after seeing it over and over. Now, there are some English words that are actually German. This .00000005% I already know and don't have to spend time flippin' thru the yellow book!

Take a peek at some:

Doppelganger - someone that looks like you. Doppel means "double" and gänger is "walker". This word was floating around Facebook recently as everyone was scurrying to find their celebrity look alike. And sorry, just because you're blonde, doesn't mean you look like Charlize...maybe get some cinnabons for breasts and we'll let it slide:

Gesundheit - we say this when someone sneezes. It doesn't translate to "God Bless You", k? It means health. So, we're just saying "health" when someone blows snot. K, it works.

Kindergarten - meaning children's garden. Here Kindergartens are like preschools for kids from's not a grade level like in the States.

über - meaning over and above, we all know this.

Poltergeist - we all know this movie. Was extra freaky for me as I am Carolyn Ann...come to the light Carol Ann. It means "noisy spirit".

zeitgeist - zeit means time and geist is ghost and that's exactly what this word means.."the spirit of an era".

wanderlust - a strong impulse to travel. wandern is the German verb meaning to hike. Lust just means plain old "desire" and not only the sexual kind.

angst - means the same thing. Common phrase "keine Angst!"...Don't worry!.

delicatessen - "delikat Essen" which is "delicious food". Essen is also the verb "to eat".

hamster - from the German verb, hamstern, which means to hoard or to store.

kitschy - inferior, tasteless, low quality art? used often in describing decorating...hard to explain. look here.

There are obviously more, but I'm done playing Webster for now. Peace.

* {That doesn't mean I think my writing, grammar and spelling are perfect...the blog has unfortunately highlighted all of my flaws. I KNOW my sentences are run ons, I use way too many parentheses and an absurd amount of dot, dot, dots. Entschuldigung! I hope you are a nicer bunch of people and couldn't care less.}


Unknown said...

You are funny my dear! Love the way you love words and language. At your speed you will be fine in German in no time!
So nice to see your brother has been visiting, hopefully he enjoyed Austria!
Alles wunderschoen! Ich hoffe Ihr habt schon etwas Fruehling! Hier ist es immer noch so kalt und wir haben unglaubliche Regenstuerme!
Alles Liebe und noch einen schoenen Sonntag!


Em said...

Here are some verbs for you that are just like English so by the time you add the German words you know which are used in English too, to the words which are nearly the same, you have a large German vocab at your disposal already.

Kimberly said...

Doppelganger is one of my all time fav words. BTW...if my memory serves me correctly, I do believe my very own mother has beaten said brother in a game of Scrabble many moons ago.

Molly said...

i liked this post! could i perhaps be that little blonde birdie? :)
and who thinks they look like charlize? or was that just an example?
we learned about some of those words in history when we did learned about the German immigrants. you forgot to mention sauerkraut and hamburgers though. we just learned how they were called Liberty Cabbage and Liberty Sausage during the period of the 1st world war due to the hostility towards the Germans at this time. kinda like freedom fries!
i've been updating my blog ps!

E Money said...

haha love this post. and did you know your sister erin and her hubby jason are into scrabble? dude. they draw blood. erin mocks jason until I challenge b/c she doesn't want to lose a turn and I can't stand to hear it anymore!! ahaha it's a lot of fun-especially b/c i don't mind when they kick my booty! and they do. every time.

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- Carolyn