Learning German – I’ll Have What She’s Having…

So I know some of you will hopefully come visit me in Germany at some point in the future. I figured that I could also do a series where I teach you little things here in Germany.  Something I will teach you is how Thorsten and I transliterate when we speak our non-native language. Transliteration means that someone is literally translating from one language to another. You will see a prime example in this post.

I also plan on covering Spanish at some point as well.

Anyway, German has some of the funnest words I have learned in regards to food. Some of them make sense (due to English having Germanic roots) while others just make you cock your head to the side (like Abner does)

Here are words that you will find easy to remember (mind you, the way they are pronounced is different):

Tee – Tea

Kaffee – Coffee

Brot – Bread

Milch – Milk

Butter – Butter

Zucker – Sugar

Fleisch – Meat

Wurst – Sausage

Apfel – Apple

Bier – Beer

Cola – Cola/Soda/Pop (depending on your region)….this usually is in reference to Coca Cola

Honig – Honey

Basilikum – Basil

Öl – Oil

Schwein – Pork

Salat – Salad

Now let’s get into the not-so-easy-to-learn:

Zwiebel – Onion

Kartoffeln – Potato

Knoblauch – Garlic

Birne – Pear

Brötchen – Rolls

Pilze – Mushrooms

Ei – Egg

Eier – Eggs

Schinken – Ham

Essig – Vinegar

Ok, so I think you get the picture. But if you want a great glossary to get yourself ready for Oktoberfest, here is a great site that should get you prepared: http://german.about.com/library/blmenu1.htm

While being in a relationship with a German, I have noticed that even when we are ordering food it’s different. This comes from our cultural differences.

When asked what we want to drink, we answer the following:

Me: I would like a coke.

Thorsten: I take a cola.

To an English speaker, the second sounds a bit off. But if you translate to German, the first would sound unnecessary.

When you go to a restaurant in Germany you simply say the following:

Ich nehme ein Cola/Brot/Apfel/Ei.

This translates to ‘I take a cola/bread/apple/egg.’ It’s a perfectly legitimate answer to the question in Germany. This is the go-to response when asked (in Germany) what you would like to eat/drink.

I know as a Midwesterner, to simply say “I take” something sounds weird because it’s considered rude, in a manner.  It’s like they’re saying “I shall take this cola and I shall conquer it!”  That is not the case.

When I first went to Germany, I would always answer “Ich möchte…” Let’s take a closer look at this word:

Möchte is the first (or third) person singular subject II of the German word mögen, which means ‘to like.’ This means that the word möchte (which can also be written as moechte) translates to ‘would like.’

So when I would respond with “Ich möchte…” I am saying ‘I would like.’ This is from my years growing up being polite above all else. This also stems from my attempt to transliterate from English to German. In Germany, if you want to politely request something, you simply add the word ‘bitte’ to the end of the sentence. So if Thorsten were to politely ask for his coke, he would say:

Ich nehme ein Cola, bitte.

This is a prime example of transliteration. Both of us would take from our own culture and try to exactly translate when speaking another language. Neither of them is wrong from a literal standpoint but culturally can be jarring for someone who doesn’t understand the nuances.

Anyway, I hope you enjoyed a little cultural and language lesson for today. I think I will try to make these a Saturday event.

Bis Bald! (Until Later!)

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